The 8 Ball 04.06.13: The Top 8 WrestleMania Theme Songs
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 04.06.2013
From Metallica's "The Memory Remains" and Limp Bizkit's "My Way" to Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Snow (Hey Oh)," AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 WrestleMania theme songs of all time!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
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As pretty much everyone who frequents 411mania knows, this weekend the biggest wrestling event of the year goes down. That's right ladies and gentlemen, it's WrestleMania weekend and WWE will be putting on some of their biggest matches of the year with the likes of the Rock vs. John Cena II, CM Punk vs. The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H and more. While this is the Music Zone, we are wrestling fans here too and I'm no exception to that. WrestleMania has had its share of music-related content throughout the years with live performances, celebrity appearances and more, but no less significant is its use of theme songs. The official WrestleMania theme song truly came into play with WrestleMania 2000 and has steadily grown, to the point that last year's WrestleMania 28 saw no less than four separate official theme songs from major artists. This week I thought we could commemorate the grandest stage of them all by looking at the best theme songs in WrestleMania history.
Caveat: While song quality was a major factor in my song selection for this list, I was also looking at a song's appropriateness as a theme song for a major wrestling Pay-Per-View. No matter how good a song is, if it doesn't make sense within a wrestling context then it doesn't make for a good WrestleMania theme. Thus, some of the songs on this list may not be ones that I like outside of its use as a theme song but they made the list because of their appropriateness within the WrestleMania spectrum.
Just Missing The Cut
Young Guns - "Bones" (WrestleMania 29)
Tinie Tempah (ft. Eric Turner) - "Written in the Stars" (WrestleMania 27)
Since October - "The Show" (WrestleMania 26)
Kevin Rudolf (ft. Birdman, Jay Sean and Lil Wayne) - "I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)" (WrestleMania 26)
Saliva - "Ladies and Gentlemen" (WrestleMania 23)
#8: Metallica - "The Memory Remains" (WrestleMania 28)
First up on our list is a song that was used just last year. "The Memory Remains" may not be one of Metallica's greatest tracks (though it is a good one), but when it was used within the context of the third clash between Triple H and the Undertaker at a WrestleMania event then it was definitely one of the greats. The Hell in a Cell match was billed as the "end of an era" and was kicked off when the Dead Man said that he wasn't happy with being unable to leave the Georgia Dome ringside area under his own power and said he "did not want 'that scene' to be a lasting memory." That provided ample opportunity for WWE to seize upon and this song, from Metallica's ReLoad, was a perfect choice with lyrics like "Ash to ash/dust to dust" and "fortune, fame/mirror vain/gone insane/but the memory remains." The idea that the Undertaker could be at the end of his life thinking about everything in his life and that one moment remaining above everything else really added to the build for the match, making it a great choice for one of the show's marquee matchups.
#7: Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Snow (Hey Oh)" (WrestleMania 24)
Upon first impression, this song off of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium didn't seem like it would make sense for a wrestling theme. It's a rather upbeat-sounding song and doesn't have the edge of what you're generally looking for to promote in-ring battles among the greats of the era. However, when you pay attention to the lyrics you start to get a sense of just why this works so well. Frontman Anthony Keidis has said that "Snow" is about surviving and wiping away the mistakes of the past in order to create a blank slate that would allow one to start over and forge their own destiny. When you consider the matches that took place on the card such as CM Punk winning his first Money in the Bank championship and Ric Flair attempting to defy the odds and keep his career going against Shawn Michaels, that actually seems very appropriate. Of course, you also have the fact that the PPV took place in Orlando, Florida--billed as "The Biggest WrestleMania Under the Sun" no less--and the song does in fact have that sort of sunny disposition about it that lends itself to the climate. This is one of those rare times when WWE has gone with a song that wasn't particularly heavy in sound where it actually worked and fit into what they were aiming for without turning people off a bit.
#6: Jim Johnston - "California" (WrestleMania 2000)
We go way back to this one, to what is more or less the beginning of the WrestleMania theme song as we know it. (WrestleMania III had an Aretha Franklin song as its theme but that was a one-time oddity rather than the true beginning of the concept.) WWE tends to be continually off with their hip-hop selections and they love choosing rap with strong pop or rock tendencies instead of selecting more traditional hip-hop, which ends up satisfying few people. Good examples of that are Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" and "Wild Ones," Kevin Rudolf's "I Made It" (which did nab honorable mention for me because it's catch) and the like. Ironically, the best hip-hop oriented WrestleMania theme comes not from an outside celebrity but someone on the regular WWE payroll. Jim Johnston is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated men in music. The composer for a wide variety of WWE entrance music, he has shown that he can work within pretty much any genre and to so with quite a bit of success. For WrestleMania 2000 Johnston composed "California," a song that feels like a proper West Coast rap song and really sold the PPV nicely. The success of this song really lent weight to the idea of theme songs for PPVs and is one of the few themes to make it onto the WWE Anthology three-CD set released in 2002.
Shinedown's "Diamond Eyes" was already associated with a WWE alumnus before it was used for WrestleMania 27; the song was written for The Expendables which co-starred none other than "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Considering that the song was created for one of the biggest action star smackdowns ever created, it only made sense that it would be used for a clash between the big names in WWE. The music of this one has a fast, driving sound that really gets your blood pumping and lyrics about a "fist-first philosophy" and "a suicidal maniac with nothing to lose" really fit into the idea of a wrestling PPV. I actually felt that this one was underused by WWE; the promotion instead made the lesser "Written in the Stars" its primary theme and while I'm happy to see Tinie Tempah get some exposure, this was by far the better song for a show like WrestleMania. It is possibly my favorite song in terms of pure enjoyment and not just wrestling appropriateness on this list.
#4: Drowning Pool - "Step Up" (WrestleMania 20)
There have been times where WWE could be accused of going too soft with their themes in an attempt to lure in more casual fans to drop the big bucks for their biggest PPV. WrestleMania XX is not one of those times, as Drowning Pool's "Step Up" was the primary theme and this is perhaps as heavy as the promotion has had for a primary theme. The lyrics are absolutely perfect to describe an epic battle; they're defiant and aggressive with then-new frontman Jason Jones snarling "You had your chance to walk away, live to see another day" and the thundering guitars driving the song forward. WrestleMania XX was major even among WrestleManias for WWE, being a milestone for the company and seeing a changing of the guard (albeit one that would be tarnished by Eddie Guerrero's death and Chris Benoit's murder-suicide) along with the personal feuds between Undertaker and Kane, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar and more. (Yes, Goldberg vs. Lesnar didn't work the way they wanted but the point was still there.) When you want a song to really get your blood pumping--which most WrestleMania theme songs should do--there are few better than this one.
#3: AC/DC - "Thunderstruck" (WrestleMania 26)
WrestleMania 26 is one of the most themed 'Manias of all. The Arizona-based show saw five official theme songs but only one is recognized as THE overall 'Mania 26 song as far as I'm concerned and that is this AC/DC classic. (One does rank higher, but I'll get to that shortly.) Coming off the hard rock band's 1990 album The Razors Edge, this is another hard-edged song that really fits within every context of a wrestling show. It is also the third AC/DC theme to be used; WrestleMania 25 saw both "Shoot to Thrill" and "War Machine" as themes and with all due respect to them, this is my favorite within a WrestleMania context. From the opening riff and the building "Ahhh-ah-ah-ah" that sounds almost like a buzzsaw and the pounding drums that kick in before the song is even into high gear, you're up and moving. The lyrics largely fit with the theme of a wrestling show but this is one that for my money just really works musically more than anything else. Brian Johnson's vocals just get that hard rock kid hyped up and the guitar work from Angus Young is really impressive, designed to trigger your heart into beating a bit faster in preparation for what's to come.
#2: Placebo - "Running Up That Hill" (WrestleMania 26)
Quick, name an artist whose song you want to see used for WrestleMania if you could pick anyone. I'm willing to bet that Kate Bush, even if you're a big fan of hers like I am, was not the name you thought of. Nonetheless, it was a Kate Bush song--or rather, a cover of it--that sits at #2 on my list. Placebo's cover of "Running Up That Hill" is one of those rare instances where a great song was equaled by another band's take on it. The original is incredible but Placebo's take is musically richer without sacrificing much in poignancy. When WWE needed a song to pair with their potential retirement for Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, they went to this song. The promo videos for this really helped sell the feud and no small amount of that was because of the use of this song, which added a haunting quality to the whole thing and helped carry off the emotion between Michaels and the Dead Man. I said before that "Thunderstruck" was THE WrestleMania 26 theme and I hold true to that because I associate this one more specifically with the Taker/HBK match. With a more focused direction, that gives this the edge for me in terms of overall theme song quality.
#1: Limp Bizkit - "My Way" (WrestleMania 17)
I am not a big Limp Bizkit fan. I have never forgiven Fred Durst and company for mutilating The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" and even before that they had a few solid hits at best in my mind. That being said, it is a marvel of WWE marketing that they got me to fall in love with this song because that love is completely based off of the build around The Rock and Steve Austin for WrestleMania 17. Whatever other criticisms you may have about WWE, you have to acknowledge that their production team is one of the best in the entertainment business and they can put together videos that turn even the blandest feud into something to be anticipated. When they're handed something like Rock vs. Austin they're pretty much unstoppable. "My Way" is a song off of Bizkit's ridiculously-titled Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water and is easily one of the group's best songs. Paired with the idea of Rock and Austin, two icons of the Attitude Era coming head to head as babyfaces who just desperately wanted to beat each other at WrestleMania, it achieved a sense of transcendence. The promo videos showing these two against each other were top-notch and made this one of the most anticipated matches of all time, and the song rode the ride all the way to the top of my list.
MUSIC VIDEO A-GO-GO
You're probably not surprised to see more Garfunkel & Oates here, and I'm glad. Take a look at yet another comedy classic, "Self-Esteem":
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.