On Twitter Friday, I posted a link to a ranking of each team's victory song, expressing surprise that "A New Pirate Generation" ranked as high as No. 18. A few tweeters took issue with my comment. I mean no disrespect, but here's the deal: "A New Pirate Generation" is beneath the Pirates or any respectable sports franchise. When I hear it, I feel like I've watched an episode of Boy Meets World rather than a baseball game. Actually, even the later seasons of Boy Meets World had a Beach Boys-esque theme that was much better than "A New Pirate Generation." The song is wretched. Here's why.
0:00 The drums here are so lifeless that they almost sound like a drum machine. Whoever mixed this went to great lengths to suck all the air out of the room.
0:03 The vocals have a faint tweemo tinge that sounds a bit like Blink 182's Mark Hoppus. (Before publishing this, I learned that Baseball Prospectus described "A New Pirate Generation" as "Fuel and Blink-182 split[ting] a few handfuls of quaaludes.") They are small, afraid of themselves, mismatched with the guitars we're about to hear. "Root, root, root for our home team," goes the lyric, which is generic (the team in question is the Pirates, not some random "home team"), useless (the song is often played after the game, in which case we already rooted), and awkward (when you say the phrase "our home team," you don't accent "our").
0:10 Here come the aforementioned guitars, rockin' you like a hurricane dressed in Spandex. It's like the 1990s never happened.
0:22 The squealing harmonic is nails on a chalkboard.
0:23 "Take me out to where the Pirates play." PNC Park, you mean?
0:25 "Catch the sights / Cheer the plays / Feel the glory of yesterday." The awkward rhyme might be forgivable if the lyrics weren't so banal. They could be about baseball anywhere.
0:29 "Center field, grand slam, fans and Cracker Jack." Word salad! Maybe the lyricist writes Taboo cards for a living. "Center field" is especially amusing -- "Hey, want to go to a Pirates game? They have a center field there at where the Pirates play! It's this big expanse of grass. There's also left field and right field, but those aren't nearly as exciting."
0:36 The prechorus is actually pretty good. The harmonies sound vaguely like a lot of good '80s songs -- the Outfield's "Your Love," for example, or maybe something by the Cars. But ...
0:39 "Clap along to the rhythm of a Bucco song." Wait, which Bucco song? Is "A New Pirate Generation" referring to itself? Did it just go all "You're So Vain" on us? Or is it referring to another song? If so, I prefer that one, whatever it is.
0:48 Ugh, the chorus. Wait, did he just say "With every slide there'll be Pittsburgh pride"? Why "slide"? "Because it rhymes with pride" is not an acceptable answer. The song makes no distinction between good slides and bad slides, or slides that lead to good outcomes and slides that lead to bad ones. Would the city of Pittsburgh feel better about itself if Pirates runners got caught stealing more often? Did this play fill you with "Pittsburgh pride"?
0:58 "At the old ballgame, everybody shout." Why is the ballgame old? Isn't it happening in the present? Is it a 14-inning game, maybe?
1:09 "Young and old stories told from your childhood dream." I'm sorry -- that makes no sense. Pop lyrics, even good ones, are often less than fully coherent, but if you're going to write a stream of cliches, the bar for coherence needs to be higher.
1:12 "Pops, Wagner, Traynor, Maz, and heroes yet to be named." Okay ...
1:14 "Great catch, clutch hits like Clemente played." No. No no no. Those are just random words, a bunch of mismatched puzzle pieces jammed together.
Most of the rest of the song just repeats what we've heard before, which I wouldn't hold against it if what came before had been any good. Aside from the '80s guitars, "A New Pirate Generation" is like an annoyingly catchy '90s alterna-pop hit, but worse -- it's comfortably below "Every Morning" or "Only Wanna Be With You" or even "With Arms Wide Open" in quality. The Pirates deserve better than this song, and so do we.
I know not everyone agrees. Here are a couple tweets I got last week when I mentioned the song.
I love the hell out of that song, and I love that the game recap is read to the TWIB theme.
Well, you're wrong, but okay.
What isn’t to like about that song? I associate it with some of the franchise’s happiest moments.
What happy moments? The Pirates started playing "A New Pirate Generation" when PNC opened in 2001, which means they've had 12 losing seasons in the 14 years they've used it. During the losing streak, when I heard the song after Pirates wins, it only reminded me that the Pirates were bad despite what had happened that day. And now that the Pirates aren't bad anymore, it's totally inappropriate.
I appreciate that a song that's been around this long has nostalgic value. But you know what? The Pirates can replace it with a better song, and over the next few years the Bucs will play much better than they did when PNC opened, and we'll all develop attachments to that song instead. You'll remember "A New Pirate Generation" existed in the same way that you now remember Tike Redman and Ronny Paulino. "A New Pirate Generation" is a bad song that celebrates a bad era of baseball. "We Are Family" is a much better song that celebrates a time when the Pirates were terrific. If we need nostalgia, let's use that song. Or not. Either way, there's got to be something better.
Thanks to Brian Spragg for his help with this post.