The way the music industry has changed over the past two decades, it’s no wonder that WWE doesn’t put out CDs anymore. Now it’s standard practice to just dump CFO$’ latest compositions on iTunes or Spotify, where they can be safely ignored by wrestling fans. For example, you probably weren’t aware that WWE Music has release thirteen different full-length digital albums in the past four years. It doesn’t even matter if hardly anyone buys them, because digital releases cost the company so little in the first place. They’ve already created the songs to use on TV – what’s the risk in putting them on the internet to make a few extra bucks?
But back before streaming and (legitimate) downloading were the norm, WWE had to put out physical albums, which meant a big investment in manufacturing the product, and then another huge investment in advertising it. That meant that, whenever WWE was selling another music CD, they’d litter WWE programming with commercials and plugs. And heaven help us if the CD consisted of new music by outside musical artists!
That usually meant that the superstars’ familiar themes would be replaced by garbage tunes from the new album.
That’s the one redeeming quality of the WWE Originals CD – few of the songs on the album were ever used as entrance music. Released in January 2004, the album’s gimmick is that the WWE Superstars themselves sing the tunes. Mike Post and Jim Johnston were faced with the unenviable task of getting the Superstars into the studio and producing a listenable record that would sell well. And it did sell well, reaching #12 on the Billboard Album charts! So, mission half-accomplished.
You’ll probably recognize Jim Johnston as the composer of countless classic WWE themes…
…or as that one member of the DX Band who wore glasses and could play his instrument.
The CD opens with a comedy skit between Stone Cold and Jim Johnston, where Austin complains about his backing track featuring an acoustic guitar, which he smashes. Such sketches are interspersed throughout the disc, and you can probably guess where they’re going. Stone Cold is actually a certified guitar hero and master wordsmith, but this Johnston guy keeps getting in the way of his musical vision.
The first proper song is “We’ve Had Enough” by the Dudley Boyz. To be honest, there’s not a lot to complain about with this track. It’s an angry rap without any tricky rhythms or musical pitches to speak of, all about kicking some poor chump’s ass, performed by two angry guys without any training in singing but a lot of training in kicking some poor chump’s ass. Or should I say, poor chumps’ asses? They do usually wrestle two-on-two.
The Dudleys do, arguably, go a bit overboard, such as when Bubba Ray raps sixteen straight bars laying out not just an outline but a move-for-move choreographed routine of how the Dudleys’ next match is going to play out. It’s almost enough for Randy Savage to make a diss track titled, “Call it in the Ring”.
But on the positive side, the song plays at exactly 100 beats per minute, making it an even better aid for giving CPR than Stayin’Alive (which I had to slow down 3 bpm to make this mash-up).
Even better, it fits nicely, after just the slightest tempo adjustment, to the WCW classic, “Don’t Step to Ron”.
Trish Stratus is next on the mic but doesn’t quite muster the strength of voice to match the overwhelming power of the backing track. C’mon, Trish, Muzak ain’t cheap! Do it some justice, please.
Trish knew she wasn’t the world’s greatest singer, although she did sarcastically claim that her voice was so perfect that Jim Johnston didn’t know what to do with his knob, which I hope was a reference to his mixing board. In fairness, Trish’s voice isn’t that bad as long as she doesn’t hold any long or medium-length notes.
Track 4 opens with some Spanish guitar playing reminiscent of Fernando. Could it be an ABBA cover? No, it’s Rey Mysterio, the former No Limit Soldier, delivering a bilingual rap called, “Crossing Borders”. True to its name, the topic of crossing border shows up in the track’s main hook, which does something I’ve never, ever heard in a song:
Cada persona tiene sueños. In order
move ahead you gotta cross the border
The lyric would have been perfectly fine as, “To move ahead you gotta cross the border”, except there would be no rhyme for “border”. So Jim Johnston, Mike Post, or whoever it was who wrote the lyrics, stuck in a (and I looked this up) subordinating conjunction and had the nerve to rhyme it!
The song couldn’t have been any worse if the lyrics had gone like this:
Cada persona tiene sueños. There–
you gotta cross the border if you dare.
Cada persona tiene sueños. In
you cross the border if you wanna win.
Cada persona tiene sueños. Of
I crossed the border to the place I love.
In case you weren’t already confused by the awkward rhymes, the song throws the listener for another loop when, out of nowhere, someone starts talking to Rey. Some producer was so adamant that somebody start saying “Hey, Rey” that they stuck it into the song. If you ask me, they should have saved that bit, looped it, and written a new song out of it for a follow-up CD.
I know that not everyone here can hablar español, so I’ll summarize the song’s contents: As a kid in San Diego, Rey wanted to be a wrestler, so he had to decide whether to go to Tijuana and wrestle. He did. And then the song ends. Still no word on who’s bought the movie rights.
“Can You Dig It?” is a rap by, of course, Booker T. This track all about making a difference with the youth of today. If you read his book, you’ll know all about his rough childhood. You’ll also know about the time he dated a cult leader’s daughter. Why can’t there be a song about that on this CD? Anyway, three minutes is all Booker has to spare, as he has a plane to catch. That might explain why the producers left in such rhymes as “midget/dig it” and “movie/spinaroonie”.
Interrupting Booker’s song is Kurt Angle, whose track serves as a 3-minute ad for Pro Tools and that audio program’s pitch-shifting feature. Either that, or Your Olympic Hero has quite the ear for harmonies. His rhythm is noticeably lacking, however; “I Don’t Suck” is a spoken word track disguised as a rap. Now it’s easy to nitpick such lyrics as:
“Anything you can do, I can do better/
Even when I rap, I rap more better”
But in case you missed the song’s chorus…
…nothing about this song should be taken seriously. Besides, its biggest lyrical clunker is actually: “Start at the bottom and long for the top/ I’ll always be here to make your dream stop.” Fortunately, Kurt really upped his game for the following year’s “Sexy Kurt”.
Next up is “When I Get You Alone”, sung by the future lead vocalist of The Luchagors, Lita. “When I Get You Alone” is just the title, by the way; do not under any circumstances attempt to isolate Lita’s vocal track and put it on Youtube, lest she be retroactively barred from the Hall of Fame.
Eddie and Chavo’s theme, “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” comes next, bringing to mind the Guerreros’ over-the-top Mexican stereotype personas, riding to the ring in a low-rider. It sort of makes you wonder what exactly would have made that gimmick “cross the line” into racial insensitivity. Answer: lawnmowers.
The duo waxes metaphorical, comparing Eddie’s penchant for stealing and riding low-riders to his treatment of the chicas. “Find ‘em and forget ‘em”, says Chavo, leaving out one or two crucial steps in the routine.
Chris Jericho, already the lead singer of Fozzy, gets his chance to shine on “Don’t You Wish You Were Me?” Le Champion has done so much since then that he’s probably forgotten this song even existed. So to answer the question in the title, yes.
Rikishi shows his soulful side with the tender ballad, “Put a Little Ass On It.” “Put a little ass on it,” croons Fatu. “Like a baby.” Do I really want to know what he means by that? If that’s how Rikishi treats infants, I’d hate to ask the Usos about their childhood.
I’m sure that’s not what Rikishi meant, but I’m also sure that I have no idea what any of this song is about. Just what does it mean to “put a little ass on it”, a piece of advice repeated endlessly by the backing singers? Perhaps more importantly, what does it mean to “feel the smooth”? Is that… is that when Rikishi bends over to smooth out all the wrinkles?
I’ll forgive the backing vocalists for straining to reach some of the high notes; they were clearly hired in-house. I know if I were producing this track, I’d be too embarrassed to bring in outsiders to sing this song.
As if to comment on many of the other Superstars’ half-hearted efforts on this CD, the producer has Stacy Keibler literally phone in her vocals on the next track. There’s a not-too-hidden meaning behind “Why Can’t We Just Dance?”, so suffice it to say that Stacy isn’t actually asking to dance. (She’s asking to f**k)
The last and most famous music track on the disc is John Cena’s “Basic Thuganomics,” which we all know and… are aware of. Rather than comment on such a familiar song, I’d just like to point out that “thuganomics” doesn’t sound all that much like “economics”. “Thugonometry” has a better ring to it in my opinion, and imagine the Mauro Ranallo-esque puns the announcers could have made about it, if you’ll excuse my tangent.
Worse yet, it’s also just the slightest bit possible that this track kicked off a string of terribly contrived book titles over the next decade. Have you heard of Freakonomics?
How about Freedomnomics? And who could forget Spousonomics?
John himself might have written that one.
Closing out the disc is Stone Cold again. Having beaten up Jim Johnston, the Rattlesnake pours out a cold one on the record producer and gets to work recording his own song, which of course we never get to hear.
All in all, there are five of these comedy tracks. Now that I’ve heard them, I’m going to uncheck them on my iTunes so they don’t come up in Shuffle.
Oops! Now I’ve unchecked all of the tracks!