Here's the thing: I've grown up loving college football with an unfathomable passion. I do this every day, and I have a respectable mainstream audience here. And still, somehow, I sense there's something I'm fundamentally missing about a very, very large swath of college football fans. I base that perceived disconnect largely on the surprisingly long life of this travesty, for which I apologize in advance:
But I only bust out the Big 'N Rich to prove a point: Everything about that abominable production is an insult to college football fans, most of whom (from what I gather) hate it with a furious, unifying passion that very nearly transcends the many other intense hatreds that define the sport. Or at least it should be, and I thought it did, until confronted today by the latest in a long, long list of evidence that a) Where aesthetics are concerned, the consensus opinion of any large group of people always leads to horrible results, no matter their individual preferences, and b) The suits behind the ABC/ESPNiverse think college football fans are best attracted to the glow by generic redneck rockers. To be more specific, they've tabbed Kenny Chesney for the latest College Football on ABC/ESPN theme song:
The song, "This is Our Moment," captures the passion and dedication of the players to perform at the highest level each week with the understanding that every game counts. It will be used during game and studio telecasts and during promotions of upcoming programs and show elements across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile TV and ESPN International. On select occasions, the song will be accompanied by a video montage of Chesney performing at a recent concert, along with college football highlights.
The song will reek and drive you slightly more insane with rage each time the first chords chime out of your speakers, which will be 50 billion times per season. I have haven't heard the song, and still I'm absolutely certain there is zero percent chance that anyone anywhere will find it tolerable over any period of time.
Well, OK, so make that a 50 percent chance, just based on demographics. I am also absolutely certain that this decision was market-researched to the ends of the solar system and it was scientifically determined that, yes, college football fans as a targetable consumer group are best defined as, um, non-pretentious sorts who -- if not as an actual majority, at least as a per capita consensus -- are prone to enjoying Kenny Chesney. Certainly more so than the suits who actually decided on the music, who probably like whatever quasi-obscure emo whimpering was on Grey's Anatomy last week, or the population at large, which is instead bombarded with Fall Out Boy or Green Day or some other homogenized punk act and clearly has no patience for another homogenized country act. Which is why Awful Announcing may be depressingly right when it says Chesney is "a brilliant move" from a marketing perspective, considering college football's locus of popularity in Red States, and particularly in the South. I don't know how "brilliant" any piece of bumper music could be in terms of gaining or especially retaining viewers -- "Whoa, Kenny Chesney, guess you know where to find me for the next three hours, baby doll" -- but it is probably a broad demographic match.
Yet it still mystifies me based on personal experience. I've lived my entire life in the South. I am so from the South I just met my first Canadian in June. Almost everyone I know is from the South, and I could not at this moment call, text or e-mail a single person whom I suspect of even potentially enjoying Kenny Chesney. I'd be a little bit surprised if I could go out on the street right now in the middle of Texas and yell for anyone who liked Kenny Chesney. The absolute worst thing I can possibly think to say about Tim Tebow is that he appears to be a Kenny Chesney fan.
Of course, the Child is not alone: Somehow I've lived my life mostly oblivious to the fact that (according to various returns from a search engine which shall not be named) Chesney has wooed huge movie stars; pitched major beer brands and who knows what else; won like a billion awards I've never heard of; sold out a huge percentage of his shows and sold something like 25 million albums in his career. That's about two-thirds of the total attendance for all college football games last year, and there's good reason to infer some substantial overlap in those two numbers -- enough, at least, to suggest that fully half of college football fans will probably support or at least be very comfortable with Kenny Chesney as the de facto Musical Voice of the Sport for the next three or four years, some of whom may be reading this blog and wondering where I get off acting like his intrinsic lameness is a scientific principle*. And the other half of us will spend the fall scurrying to change the channel before we're tempted to smash our televisions into 25 million pieces.
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* Even though it is: Light travels faster than sound, every force has an equal and opposite reaction and Kenny Chesney's music is turrrrrrrrible.