2007 was a simpler time. I’m going to assume it was at least, I was, like, 12, and I don’t really remember. Soccer didn’t matter to me in 2007. Especially not MLS. I could have maybe named four teams if pressed.
That fact never bothered me much. I never felt like my life would have been inexorably improved if I followed a 13-team MLS that, by all accounts, played mediocre soccer at best. That all changed last week.
In researching/scanning Wikipedia to write the Hater’s Guide for F.C. Dallas, I made a discovery that undeniably would have changed my view on MLS ten years ago had I known about it then. Fortunately, we can still look back now and appreciate ONE OF THE WORST MARKETING IDEAS OF ALL-TIME.
In European football, clubs are forever linked with specific songs. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” immediately evokes images of Anfield and Liverpool FC, and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” is “that weird song that West Ham sings.” In Fall of 2007, the folks at Adidas attempted to make an imprint on the relatively blank canvas of American soccer culture by joining with MLS to create, out of thin air, an anthem for each of the league’s 13 teams in their (lol this name) “MLS Represent” campaign.
You’re probably wondering if I found these songs.
Yes. Yes, I did.
You’re probably wondering if they’re terrible.
Oh man, they’re worse than you can even imagine.
In an alternate universe, MLS was an extremely valuable commodity in 2007 and Adidas threw copious amounts of money into this project and snagged fantastic and well known musicians to create these songs and salvaged another bad idea that tried to inject European football culture into MLS (I see you Sporting KC). This is not that universe. The most notable artist on this list, by far? Barenaked Ladies.
Yeah. We’re about to go on a ride.
I’ve listened to each of the songs so you don’t have to.
Side note: I consider myself in to music. I own a record player and I read a Pitchfork article once. All that to say that you should consider my opinion on these matters incontrovertible. Because I’m right.
No one was asking for this, but here is each “MLS Represent” Anthem ranked from “best” to worst.
13. FC Dallas - “H-O-O-P-S, Yes!” - The Polyphonic Spree
At the top of this list is a cut from Dallas based indie-choir group/cult The Polyphonic Spree. You know, these guys.
You probably heard Polyphonic Spree on the radio and in sitcoms for like three months in 2004 when they dropped the catchy as hell “Light and Day/Reach for the Sun.” They were also the musical starting point for the brilliant Annie Clark, known now as St. Vincent. All considered, they relatively consistently produce enjoyable and interesting music. “H-O-O-P-S, Yes!” isn’t necessarily either of those things, but it ain’t bad either.
The songs opens with Polyphonic Spree spelling out the word “hoops”, which I can only assume comes from F.C. Dallas’ uniforms having hoops on it. Not exactly Bob Dylan. The bridge is also dumb. But then that chorus hits…
“WHERE IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GO?!?!?! THERE’S NO HIDING FROM THIS DALLAS, TEXAS (UNINTELLIGIBLE)!! WE’RE ROLLING ALONG AND KICKING UPSIDE DOWN! IT’S TIME FOR US TO GET THE (UNINTELLIGIBLE) AWAY!!”
Then there’s some weird thing about coming together for a Hoops Parade? And then some other boring thing. And then…
“WHERE IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GO?!??!?!??!??...”
I want to inject that chorus in my freaking veins. The horns come in and there’s like four people singing and dang it if I didn’t drive around in my car and blast this with the windows down multiple times.
I love it so much I fixed the song to be how God intended and I expect a 9.3 rating from Pitchfork within the week.
It feels like Polyphonic Spree wrote this song well before Adidas asked them to make it, then exchanged a couple of words for Dallas and hoops and called it a day. That may be why it’s the best of the bunch.
Be right back, listening to the chorus 20 more times.
12. Colorado Rapids - “Goal!” - Rose Hill Drive
“Hey what’s that thing that happens in soccer?”
“Yeah that’s a good name for this song, we should call it that.”
“Cool, what should the chorus be?”
Honestly though, it’s an enjoyable enough song. Props to Rose Hill Drive for producing the song that was hardest to make fun of.
11. Houston Dynamo - “Don’t Play” - Mike Jones
I recognized Mike Jones from the annoying kids at my school who would do the “Mike Jones, who?” thing all the time. Frankly, he doesn’t do a bad job here.
Mike Jones being excited to chill with the Houston Dynamo mascot.
“I’m from Houston, Texas chilling with our mascot / The crowd go crazy when they see the fox steppin’ out”
A chorus that is almost as catchy “H-O-O-P-S, Yes!”.
“Hater’s hate but lose when we in the race / We up in the place and we gon’ put it in their face / Let em’ know / Houston Dynamo (Who?) / Houston Dynamo (Who?) / Houston Dynamo (Who?) / Houston Dynamo (Who?)”
Mike Jones letting them know he’s he going to root for them.
“Imma root for ‘em / Imma root for ‘em / These little fox come and hear me root for ‘em / I got that orange on my back and imma root for ‘em”
Mike Jones mentions Houston’s fox mascot like ten times and I firmly believe that he only agreed to do the song if he got to hang out with the fox for a day. It’s a pretty passable song and secretly kind of bumps. Play it at your next big house party and see if anyone notices.*
*Do not do this.
10. Kansas City Wizards (Sporting KC) - “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Stop Us Now” - Blackpool Lights
Before they were soccer’s dumbest name, they were soccer’s dumbest name. Before Sporting KC, they were the “Wiz,” a name that received so much grief that I’m surprised the song wasn’t entitled “Please Stop Making Pee Jokes.”
In the not nearly as fun “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Stop Us Now,” someone named Blackpool Lights follows the popular MLS Represent Anthem trend of the artist yelling WHOA in place of actually writing any words.
It’s a perfectly fine rocker. It’s as boring and inoffensive as Kansas City and Sporting KC. I forgot I was listening to it halfway through and started checking my phone. It may be the best marriage of club and song of the bunch. Yawn.
9. Toronto FC - “TFC” - Barenaked Ladies
I forewarned you of the Barenaked Ladies section of this piece.
We’re here, and it is exactly what you think it is. The chorus:
“T is for Toronto / F is for football / C is for the club that we la la la la lovveee”
There is nothing here you wouldn’t expect from the folks that wrote the Big Bang Theory theme song. The whole thing is written like a book designed for children learning how to read but it’s mostly inoffensive and definitely not the worst of the bunch.
8. Chivas USA - “Chivas Explosivas” - Akwid
The now defunct Chivas USA predictably produces a song with Latin flair, meaning that there’s horns and I can only understand about an eighth of the words that aren’t in English.
7. Real Salt Lake - “Mighty REAL” - Meg & Dia
It’s not the worst song on the list, but it’s definitely one of the five worst Paramore songs I’ve ever heard.
The song begins with one of my favorite tropes in these anthems: chanting letters associated with the team. It then takes a page from Barenaked Ladies and explains what each letter stands for. At least Meg & Dia had the guts to create their own acronym rather than explaining that TFC stood for Toronto Football Club.
“R is for royal.”
That makes sense, Real is spanish for royal.
“E is for everybody.”
That also makes sense, it’s good to include everybody in the clubs activities, inclusion is positive.
“A is for armor.”
A is for armor??? In soccer? This only makes sense if L is for “LARPing.” Please tell me L is for LARPing.
“L is for love of the game.”
6. New England Revolution - “Revolution!” - Damone
The song opens with…helicopter noises? For some reason?
After that it’s a standard boring rock song until someone unleashes a guttural scream at the end of the chorus.
It’s bad. That’s all there really is to say about it. The scream is just enough to keep you awake through it. It’s like someone collected the feelings of every New England fan when Atlanta’s seventh goal went in last Wednesday and released them all at once. I’m fascinated by it.
5. Chicago Fire - “Here comes the fire” - OK, Go
OK, Go is that band you’ve only listened to on YouTube. Retrospectively, this is a decent get for Adidas.
It is the only song to feature near constant cowbell in it, as well as a 45 second vocal solo of “nah, nah, nah, nahs.”
Like most OK, Go songs, this needed a Rube Goldberg machine or some dogs on segways to make it entertaining.
4. Columbus Crew - “It’s Your Crew” - RJD2
I began to audibly laugh from the start and didn’t stop until the song was long over.
No idea who RJD2 was or is but bless him/them for this. The song opens with a kind of chant one could presume would be done by a crew of some type over top of a drum synth while people yell “Columbus” over and over. The opening itself is magical.
Then, the rapping starts.
“Columbus Crew / Back again / Pick up a cell phone / Call a friend”
First off, #BARS. Second, stating in a song that you need to pick up a “cell” phone specifically is the most 2007 thing I can imagine. Third, where did Columbus Crew go??? What are they back from? Someone please tell me. Are they back from the offseason? Is Columbus’ marketing so bad that they need people to call their friends the season is going to start? It starts the same time every year right?
After the first line brings up a million questions, RJD2 drops this:
“Let ‘em know we’ve got goals to defend / So root for the home team / Time to win”
So to clarify, we need to specifically pick up a cellular phone, call a friend and let them know they’re apparently playing keeper tomorrow because the Columbus Crew have returned from a hiatus of an unknown nature. Oh, and they also need to root for whichever team happens to be the home team in that game. Whether or not that home team is Columbus is unclear. This feels like a lot to spring on a friend, but at this point RJD2 has me under his spell and I’m doing whatever he asks.
The final line of the first verse may be my favorite.
“Columbus Crew/ Say it loud / The Buckeyes aren’t the only game in town”
This line is amazing because Columbus’ front office 100% explicitly asked for it to be included.
“We don’t care who you get or how it sounds, just make sure they let people know that Ohio State isn’t the only team in this city. We’ve been trying to let people know that for years, but maybe, just maybe, saying it in a song will do the trick...What do you mean by ‘inferiority complex’?”
3. New York Red Bulls - “Whoo! Alright, Yeah...Uh Huh” - The Rapture
Wow. That title.
Wow, this whole song really.
It is by far the most electronic of the anthems and it is stunningly horrible. An absolute mess of a song musically as a million instruments feel like they’re trying to play different songs at once half of the time.
But the real highlight lies within the lyrics.
For example, the the hook for this one is simply “Go New York” repeated into infinity. The best moment though happens when The Rapture decides to lay down some hot fire against the posers trying to score against the Red Bulls.
“You people can’t score no more / You just stand there like this / You cross your arms and stare around and cringe and moan and diss”
The Rapture throws those flames down about eight times before going into one last rousing edition of “Go New York” for the next minute and a half before ending it with a prolonged “GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLL!”
2. LA Galaxy - “We Are The Galaxy” - Kinky
Kinky’s approach to their anthem was, “What if everyone needed a shower after they listened to it?”
The song is essentially two choruses over and over again.
For the first chorus (“WHOOOAAAohhhhOHHHohhhOHHHHohhhOHH We Are the Galaxy”), Kinky discovered there was a voice effect called “atmospheric” on GarageBand and milked it for all it was worth because it reminded them of galaxy.
Chorus two is...covertly sexual?
“Kick em off/Let it go/Ride it in my golden goal (??????? ) /Taking off the ground to my Galaxy.”
They keep the ”melody” the same the second time chorus two comes around but they change the words. It doesn’t feel less...erm...coital.
“How far can we go?/ Riding on the Cali sun/ Taking off the ground to my Galaxy.”
After that, a post-coital-chorus-post-chorus comes in and folks it is the rug that ties the creepy, dirty room together.
Repeat after Kinky (or don’t please don’t):
“Take another round / Take another round / Take another round to my Galaxy”
I can only imagine Kinky had a member who was a son or daughter of someone high up in the front office that had the power to convince Adidas to run a song by a band named “Kinky.”
“Oh my boy Paul’s group can do it.”
“Uhh, his band that sings solely about fetishes?”
“They come cheap.”
1. D.C. United - “D.C. United” - Bad Brains
The worst song on the list is mercifully the shortest.
Before even listening to “D.C. United,” the song written for the soccer club D.C. United about the soccer club D.C. United in a promotion for D.C. United, you notice first that it’s named “D.C. United”.
The second thing you notice is that it’s one minute and 47 seconds long. By far the shortest of the anthems.
When listening to the song “D.C. United” about the soccer club D.C. United, the first thing you’ll notice is that it opens with a strange bass instrumental and a percussion fill that sounds like bongo drums (???).
The second thing you’ll notice is that your ears are bleeding.
The song is powered by one of the absolute worst “”metal” riffs you will ever hear and people chanting “D.C.”
Midway through, this song allows me to say my new favorite phrase in the English language:
Then, the rapping starts
And folks it is edgy. There is actual cursing in this song. I mean they bleep it out, but still.
“Up in the RFK / Because this type of *bleep* don’t happen every day”
What awful, cataclysmic event has forced “Bad Brains” to take refuge in the post-apocalypctic (yes, even in 2007) wasteland that is RFK Stadium? The world may never know.
The song’s best moment comes at the 56 second mark when someone inexplicably yells “AYYYAAAHHHHH” in the background. It’s gone as quickly as it comes before returning for a brief moment of bliss about forty seconds later.
Congrats to D.C. United for “D.C. United”. Your song’s placement in this list reflects your placement in the standings. The song is so bad that it somehow just beat Atlanta United three times in one year.
Atlanta United - “Welcome to Atlanta United” - Jermaine Dupri (and others)
This project got me thinking about what Atlanta United’s may have sounded like if they had been around in 2007. I eventually realized the Jermaine Dupri already wrote that song back in 2001, it just needed a slight adjustment. So I slightly adjusted it.