Clippers Arena Music: Not really my bag, man

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The music played at STAPLES Center during Clippers games is not anywhere on my personal playlist -- but that's OK, I'm there to watch basketball.

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Long time readers of Clips Nation know that I have a pretty full iPod. A feature of my game previews this season was to include a lyrical reference related to the opponent's team name, and I took some amount of pride in my choices (though sadly the team did not do well in games where I referenced Radiohead lyrics).

But I do NOT listen to the modern pop and hip hop music played on Top 40 radio stations. Nicki Minaj and Pitbull are of course unavoidable -- but I do my best. I love alt-indie new music, and went to see Kate Nash live a couple weeks ago -- but I would run screaming away at an LMFAO concert.

Which means that my musical sensibilities are almost completely out of sync with the playlist at your average NBA Arena; and indeed that is particularly true at STAPLES Center for Clippers games.

Ironically, the one ubiquitous stadium song that IS in heavy rotation on my personal playlist -- The White Stripes' iconic Seven Nation Army (which is an undeniably great song) -- has never been a fixture for Clippers' games. The Heat intros to the actual song are pretty damn cool -- even given how much I despise the Heat -- though I could do without the fans Seven Nation chanting (give me a soccer stadium chant any day). (Idea -- given the team's penchant for handing out white shirts for playoff games, maybe they should consider some songs from Plain White T's in the AAA.)

The Clippers have a DJ -- DJ Dense -- and honestly, I don't really know what he's playing most of the time. Of course there's the Electric Slide, played in conjunction with Clipper Darrel's dance routine antics. And there are various other situational standards that happen at all arenas -- Kris Kross' Jump during a jump ball, Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer during the Kiss Cam promo, etc. But mostly, I try to tune out the music, which let's face it, is too loud, and not particularly good.

In fact, I was struggling so much to come up with some semblance of a playlist for this post that I finally hit on an idea -- I searched for Clippers Spirit on YouTube and lo and behold, I found a series of songs that the Clippers dance team performed to last season. And sure enough, I don't know any of these songs. Right Now? Pound the Alarm? Turn Up the Music? Pop That? Boomerang? Goin' In? Follow the Leader? Dirty Bass? Got Me Good? Where Have You Been? We Run the Night? Startin' Somethin' (Finally, a song I know, but only because it's a remix of a 30 year old Michael Jackson song).

To their credit, the Clippers in-game entertainment folks do try to avoid what is to me the most egregious error -- playing music during live action. Sure, they'll play the occasional DEE-FENSE CLAP CLAP thing, that's fine. But while watching games at other arenas, I'm always more than a little taken aback when I see a team dribbling up the court with hip-hop blaring over the speakers. That's just wrong. The game has its own soundtrack -- the bounce of the ball, the sneakers on the floor, the referee's whistle, the trash talk -- when the ball is in play, the music needs to be off.

I assume that the individuals programming the music at NBA arenas know their audience -- but at the same time, given the demographic of folks who can afford season tickets, one wonders if a steady dose of Nicki Minaj is the answer. Contrasting the Clippers, and the NBA overall, with the music played during NHL games is night and day. I get it that these are different demographics and that the NBA is a much more urban game -- but those hockey guys are having all the fun, musically speaking, even if they do have to suffer through 1-0 games. The music at the STAPLES Center would certainly be very, very different if I were programming it -- but let's face it, I'm there to watch basketball.

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