When CBC allowed the historic, beloved theme song from "Hockey Night in Canada" to be swallowed up by the competition, it devastated puckheads all over North America; we compared it to "The Simpsons" suddenly coming back next season with the latest Fall Out Boy single instead of the decades-old opening theme.
Staring down the barrel of a PR nightmare, CBC did what any red-faced, miserly corporation would do: Attempt to pay off its disgruntled customers. So the network announced the "Canada's Hockey Anthem Challenge," in which viewers could submit their original songs for the chance to have their tune heard on "HNIC" and win $100,000 (CDN) along with half the royalties for future public performances.
Problem No. 1 with the contest: The contest originally offered viewers the chance to "submit audio or video files with their bid to provide the new theme music for Hockey Night in Canada." Now, the CBC's rules site for the contest claims that "the winning Theme will be broadcast as a key part of the program during the 2008-9 hockey season, and potentially beyond." A key part of the program? Could be the opening, could be the end credits. It's called "wiggle room."
Problem No. 2 with the contest: The Anthem Challenge ends on August 31 at 11:59 p.m., so there's still time. But the CBC's contest site has close to 40 pages of entries, and many of them ... how to put this? ... suck. Not all of them do: This fanfare from a Vancouver-based opera composer actually gets a little goose-bumpy at the end. But mostly, they make one hope the CBC just drops the dough for "Hockey Monkey" or "I Want to Drive the Zamboni."
Puck Daddy took a listen to some of the more popular entries on the CBC's contest site, as well as to some of the more creative "candidates" from YouTube. In the end, we believe we may have found a winner, from a rather unlikely place.
From the CBC site, we focus on the two most-viewed theme song entries. First is "I'm a Canadian" by The Dropjoys, which features a nice alt-country riff behind perhaps the most annoying coffee house folk singer not currently found in San Francisco. It's the perfect song for a montage of polite, weaponless Canadians smiling at each other in a Michael Moore documentary:
The second most-viewed anthem on the CBC site (as of July 7) is "The Heartbeat of Hockey" by Jenny Robinson. "Feel your heart pound with the speed of a Snowbird, as the pulsing native drum, hypnotic bass and 'Rocky-like' horn section propel your excitement to thrilling heights."
Eh, not quite. Any successful hockey theme should not afford the opportunity for one to sing along: "Spider-Man/Spider-Man/He plays hockey in tights."
If nothing else, her dandy synth-pop skills could earn her a songwriting gig for a Geocities home page or for an NES sports game published in 1989.
As usual, the real ingenuity in this contest comes from the warped minds on YouTube. Some users have taken to "mashing up" the HNIC opening with theme songs from other sports programs. Like this one, which retrofits the ESPN Hockey Night theme. Or this one, which uses the NFL on FOX opening. But the entry below not only uses a famous ESPN/ABC ditty, but also re-imagines the opening montage. Obvious, but genius:
Here in the U.S., we use the Academy Awards for crass political messages. In Canada, it's the HNIC theme song contest, as The Consumer Goods take aim at Don Cherry, the CBC and war in the Middle East. Please enjoy "Hockey Night in Afghanada":
This one ... good god, someone please buy these guys a hooker.
Finally, there's this entry from Retro Winnipeg on YouTube that we keep coming back to again and again. The visuals, the way the song builds ... it just fits. Same with the virtues associated with both this theme and with hockey: Blue-collar work ethic, the us-against-them battle between a scrappy team and incompetent management, and the occasional foray into physical comedy.
Maybe it's just our unending desire to see Dwight Schrute engage Don Cherry in a debate about visors and ninjas, but this might just be the best option in the new "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song: