November 6, 2010

A look back at WrestleMania: The Album.

When I was a kid, I wasn't really into music. I remember owning the Jurassic Park soundtrack, the Living in the 90's compilation set...and WrestleMania: The Album.

It's not a stretch to say that this was the defining musical influence on my childhood. I loved professional wrestling when I was a kid, probably more than I've ever loved anything non-human. I used to put together fake pay-per-view events in my little plastic ring, starring my wrestling action figures. My friends and I would get almost every real pay-per-view, back when there were only five or six a year. I had T-shirts, I had VHS tapes, I had everything. And I had this cassette.

The entity that used to be the World Wrestling Federation has released numerous records featuring superstar entrance music, but I think this was the only one to feature awful songs sung by actual wrestlers with horrific singing voices (and to be produced by Simon Cowell!). Some of the tunes (Tatanka, The Undertaker, The Nasty Boys, all linked here for your listening pleasure) are less memorable and therefore shall not be discussed in detail, although I just listened to the Nasty Boys song and the Undertaker song about five minutes ago and they're both pretty sweet. But here are a couple choice cuts from the best wrestling-themed original music album of all time.

"USA" by Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Not much of Hacksaw singing here; its mostly him talking about his ring entrance over a beat, but there is a creepy deep voice repeating "A POWERFUL NEW FORCE." At the time, Hacksaw Jim Duggan was 39 years old. Not exactly a new force. And he never held a single WWF championship in his career, so I don't know how powerful he really was. But it's catchy as all hell, and it's sad that Hacksaw was overshadowed by Hulk Hogan as the WWF's 90's patriot. He was the William Dawes to Hogan's Paul Revere.

"Never Been A Right Time To Say Goodbye" by Bret Hart. After reading Hitman, Bret's book about his wrestling career, I can only assume this song was recorded while Vince McMahon held a gun to Bret's head. Otherwise, I see no way the overly prideful Hart could have been talked into participating. Again, it's unbelievably catchy, or maybe I just have no taste in music and enjoy shit. But honestly, listening to this album requires an open mind in the first place. It's wrestlers singing songs! If you aren't ready to buy into it fully, don't waste your time.

Bret Hart later spit in McMahon's face, suffered a debilitating stroke and participated in the worst match ever at WrestleMania XXVI.

"Speaking From The Heart" by Macho Man Randy Savage. This song is actually the reason I wrote this post; I was getting into the shower a few days ago and found myself saying, "The tower of power, too sweet to be sour, funky like a monkey, ooooooh yeahhhhh." That's how deeply this album is ingrained in my brain; I'm 25 years old and I'm singing lines from the Macho Man track. This one has by far the most absurd lyrics; Macho Man promises to help us "find the light at the end of the tunnel" and says that we'll "climb that mountain together and we are together forever." Did Vince let them write their own lyrics, or is someone else this insane? Viewed in the context of Savage's 2003 rap album, this song becomes even more intriguing.

"WrestleMania" by all the WWF Superstars. This is the album's opener, although it should probably be the closer. It's the classic WrestleMania theme, although it opens with someone screaming "I SAID ARE YOU READY, FOR THE SURVIVOR SERIES?!" Not a lot on this album makes sense. Big Boss Man is featured heavily on this track, which is good because his song "Hard Times" is pretty terrible. It's funny how seriously he takes his character, talking about how he took a vow to protect and serve. He later tricked Al Snow into eating his own dog, stole The Big Show's father's casket and was hung, and presumably murdered, by The Undertaker after their Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 15. I attended that event, and it was terrible. Looking back, wrestling angles were all pretty fucked up.

And if you're interested in the other tracks ("The Summer Slam Jam" is particularly incredible, although it's almost exactly the same thing as "WrestleMania"), please consult YouTube. I may have lost this cassette years ago, but thanks to the Internet, these songs will never die. If only wrestling could be this cool in 2010...but that's a whole other blog post.

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