Written by El Puerquito Magnifico
It’s probably safe to say that very few people are buying WWE theme song albums because of their originality or artistic merit. Most folks who purchase these albums are probably either die-hard wrestling fans or stone deaf. Since I own a few of them and I passed my most recent hearing test, I’m going to put myself in the former category.
For years now, Jim Johnston has been the musical mastermind behind the WWE wrestlers theme songs, crafting tunes with driving, repetitive beats that might be well suited for action movies or workout tapes. With this effort he delivers yet another album full of derivative theme songs. WWE: The Music Volume 8 offers a smorgasbord of unoriginal tunes: songs that sound like bad bar-band versions of AC/DC songs, Jimi Hendrix songs, and a variety of pop music clichés.
This is not to say that pro wrestlers’ theme songs should be totally original works of art. Theme music is primarily used to get a crowd reaction. It’s an easy way to get a character’s persona across to a large audience who might be sitting in the nosebleed seats. It’s a way to show folks watching at home who the wrestler is and what he represents. “Hey, this guy’s music sounds a lot like AC/DC. He must be a badass!” To say that a wrestler’s theme music sounds derivative isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it’s quite necessary. Theme music should not, however, be bland and uninteresting.
In a business that thrives on getting a pop from a live crowd, introducing a character with boring music is akin to committing a form of career suicide. I’m going to assume that most of you who are reading this review are fans of professional wrestling, so I’m going to throw a few names at you: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The Rock. Hulk Hogan. Triple H. Ultimate Warrior. Ted DiBiase. The Road Warriors. What do these men all have in common? When you heard their theme music, you knew that business was about to pick up. You knew that the fit was about to hit the shan, in a manner of speaking. Their music was synonymous with their character. It put goosebumps on your skin and made your hair stand on end because when that music hit, you knew that the hard-earned money you plunked down for those tickets or for that Pay-Per-View show was going to be worth it. The theme songs on WWE: The Music Volume 8 will put you to sleep, if you’re lucky.
Typically in a music review, I might focus on several songs that caught my attention. I might tell you about a track that was particularly good, or one that was abysmally bad. Unfortunately, I cannot do that with this album, because it all ran together similar to the way that whatever foods you have eaten throughout the day might join together to form excrement at the end of the day (or the beginning or middle, or perhaps several times over, depending on how regular you are). But you’ve continued to read this far, so I guess I owe it to you to give it a shot.
I suppose I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a couple of standout tracks on the album. “Sliced Bread,” performed by WWE Diva Jillian, is a terribly sung rip-off of a Brittney Spears-style piece of pop trash, but since it’s supposed to be a terribly sung rip-off of a Brittney Spears-style piece of pop trash, I guess I would consider it to be good (I have a hard time bringing myself to use that word in association with this album). Considering his recent suspension for violating the WWE’s Health & Wellness Plan, the lines “… so you see the writing on the wall” and “You’re the architect of your own defeat” in Jeff Hardy’s theme song seem somehow prophetic and a bit ironic.
In a sense, the album does what theme music should do: there’s a boring hair-metal song for the guys with long hair, a power ballad of sorts for the guys who’re supposed to be known for having a lot of heart, and a faux reggae song for the guy from Jamaica. In that sense, they do represent the wrestlers’ personas, but if I listened to this album without being familiar with the WWE’s current product, I would assume their matches consisted of little more than a series of wristlocks and rest holds, with no fun, and no fast-paced, high flying action. I would assume that the show was outdated and couldn’t hold my interest for more than 30 seconds. Long story short, I wouldn’t be interested in the least.