The Daily Iowan

The art of the walk-up song

Adam Hensley, Pete Ruden, and Lucy Rohden, [email protected]

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There’s an art to finding the perfect walk-up song in baseball, believe it or not, and everyone goes about finding that one tune differently.

The consensus on the Iowa baseball team is that a walk-up song needs to energize the crowd. Some players want a song that will relax them when they step up to the plate, while others want to psych themselves up before taking that first swing.

The Hawkeyes have everything from old-school hip-hop, EDM, rock — regardless of the motives, walk-up songs are a big deal to the players.

“That kind of music is not what I was brought up on or what I listen to,” head coach Rick Heller joked. “But if that’s what they like, that’s the most important thing — it makes them feel good when they come up to the plate.”

The Daily Iowan selected the top-five best walk-up songs on the baseball team, including reviews. Ranked in the order in which they appear on the batting order, here they are:

Chris Whelan — ‘Fire,’ by Louis the Child

“I thought it got the crowd a little bit more involved, got them on their feet a little bit. I know it got the guys going in the dugout, because a couple of the guys wanted me to go back to it because they really enjoyed it,” Whelan said. “I decided to put it on right when we started playing Michigan. I kind of just thought it would turn things around the little bit and give me the same feeling in the box.”

Adam: I’m not going to lie, I hadn’t heard of Louis the Child before last year, when I started covering the team, and this song was Ben Norman’s walk-up song. This is a song that fires up the crowd with finesse and a beat that jumps out of nowhere.

Pete: Whelan said he would listen to about 15 different songs throughout the year before he made his walk-up choice. His process paid off. The track has a fun vibe to it and is sure to get more people involved than his old choice. The selection also may have rubbed off on outfielder Ben Norman, whose walk-up song is “Weekend,” by Louis the Child, sounding very similar.

Lucy: One time I heard this playing in a Forever 21 and I thought of Chris Whelan. This song is poppin’. It’s got a great beat, and when the games run more than three hours long, it’s nice to have a song to dance to keep myself entertained.

Robert Neustrom — ‘Roc Boys (And The Winner Is …),’ by Jay-Z

“I thought about doing the same one from last year, which was Jay-Z again, ‘Death of Autotune,’ but I went with ‘Roc Boys’ this year by Jay-Z,” Neustrom said. “Jay-Z’s the man, so I just decided to stick with him, and that was one of my favorite songs from way back in the day, like back in fifth grade. It kind of goes hard for a walk-up.”

Adam: Best song on the list. It starts off slow, kind of mellow, and then it explodes into an absolute powerhouse when Jay-Z and the horns come in. This is the type of song you’d bump when your paycheck comes — “We the dope boys of the year, drinks is on the house.” This song screams power and style, something Neustrom owns when he’s up to bat.

Pete: After bringing the fire last year, Neustrom did it again. Old-school hip-hop fans have to appreciate him sticking with Jay-Z, but making it a new song. The track is distinct and sets the tone for Neustrom at the plate, where he has taken advantage, hitting .333 on the season, which is tied for second on the team.

Lucy: If you’re ever at a baseball game and hear someone yell “SPEECH” from over by the Iowa dugout, that would be me. First of all I want to thank Robert Neustrom for choosing this walk-up song, most important person with all due respect.

Austin Guzzo — ‘Look Alive,’ by BlocBoy JB and Drake

“It was kind of last-minute, honestly. I was thinking, ‘I know I really want to do Drake for my senior season,’ ” Guzzo said. “Obviously, he’s from Toronto, so that would be kind of cool. That song came out I think a week before we had to decide our walk-up songs, so I just went with it. I thought it was pretty good — good beat. I think not a lot of people are going to use it because of how late it came out, so I just figured this would be a good one. It’s newer Drake, and a lot of people have done the popular ones, so I figured having something new would be nice.”

Adam: Guzzo hits a home run with arguably one of the best songs of 2018. You can’t go wrong with Drake (check that, you can if you blast “Marvin’s Room” as your walk-up song). But this is a song that makes you want to get up and move — a great way to make the crowd look alive.

Pete: Guzzo could not have found a better walk-up song for himself. Sharing a Drake bond with Elion, Guzzo stays true to his homeland, while getting himself — and everyone else in the stadium — pumped up. It is also impressive to have one of the best walk-up songs on the team, even though the song is still relatively new.

Lucy: Drake probably isn’t looking alive after his Raptors got swept my boy LeBron James. Anyway, solid walk-up song. I can’t do the dance to this song to save my life, so don’t ask. This song makes me angry, and I really like that. Good job, Guzzo. Go Canada.

Lorenzo Elion — ‘God’s Plan,’ by Drake

“My mom is always joking about how I’m a daddy’s boy, I don’t show her no love,” Elion said. “That song was hot at the time. I thought, ‘I love Drake, this is a perfect time to pick a song that says, I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry.’ ”

Adam: In my opinion, “God’s Plan” is overplayed (kind of like how “Closer,” by the Chainsmokers, was a year ago). However, when you’re working with a song that gets that much airtime, you need to get creative, and that’s exactly what Elion does, waiting for the infamous line to step into the batters box.

Pete: If you like recent songs that have caught fire, then “God’s Plan” is a smart place to start. It is guaranteed that every student in the stands knows this song, as Drake’s Midas touch really got ahold of this one. It is also at the perfect part, as Drake spits the most popular line right when Elion steps in the box.

Lucy: I, like Lorenzo, only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry. I also love this walk-up song. I feel like I’m at a frat party every time Lorenzo comes up to bat, so it’s up to you to decide whether that’s a good thing or not.

Mitchell Boe — ‘Return of the Mack,’ by Mark Morrison

“I heard it my freshman year traveling, we were down in Dallas Baptist,” Boe said. “I kind of liked it, looked up the song, really liked the song. Plugged it into my walk-up last year, and it ended up working out, so I like it.”

Adam: Excellent song choice. Morrison’s vocals mixed with a funky beat resonate exceptionally. “Return of the Mack” is super versatile — you can play it at a house party or just listen to it while you cruise around on a summer afternoon with your car windows down. Or it can become a flat-out banger of a walk-up song.

Pete: After changing his walk-up song from “15th and the 1st,” by Gucci Mane and Wocka Flock Flame, Boe found the perfect track with “Return of the Mack.” The Mark Morrison jam is laid-back but pumps people up at the same time. It has essentially become a universally known song, and Boe takes full advantage of that.

Lucy: Best walk-up song of all-time. Maybe the best song of all-time. I secretly just wait for the entire order to retire just so I can listen to this walk-up song. I’d like to thank the girl who broke Mark Morrison’s heart for blessing us with this song. Mitchell Boe, you win.

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