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The Giant Foam Finger: What's Your Walk-Up Music?

Russell Martin of the Toronto Blue Jays chose the Nicki Minaj song "Truffle Butter" for his walk-up music.
Jason Miller and Ethan Miller
Getty Images
Russell Martin of the Toronto Blue Jays chose the Nicki Minaj song "Truffle Butter" for his walk-up music.

Baseball is a game of ritual and routine, and traditions aren't adopted lightly. But in the past 20 or so years, major-league stadiums have adopted a system in which each home-team batter takes the plate to his own theme song — usually a piece of popular music announcing his arrival. It's often something brawny and massive, like "Welcome To The Jungle" or the Game Of Thrones theme or any number of Metallica songs, or swaggering, like Aloe Blacc's "I'm The Man." But sometimes, the players throw... well, curveballs.

For the latest installment of Pop Culture Happy Hour's sports-themed spinoff, The Giant Foam Finger, Code Switch lead blogger Gene Demby and I discuss the way walk-up music has become a tradition, what makes players choose the songs they do, and how songs are just another way to invite inevitable superstitions involving Kelly Clarkson. But also, let's face it: We can't discuss walk-up music without speculating on what song we'd want blaring through loudspeakers in the incredibly unlikely event we'd ever get to take a pitch in a Major League Baseball game. For Gene, this means selections from Nicki Minaj and The Roots, as well as a more realistic choice; for me, talk ranges from the inevitable Andrew W.K. to my girlfriend's desire to take the plate accompanied by a Beyonce-adjacent moment — specifically, one with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and one with Nicki Minaj.

If you're curious about the songs chosen by every MLB starter, this website is highly recommended. And we'd love to hear your thoughts — and, more to the point, your walk-up anthem — so please have at it in the comments.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)

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