A Crazy Train of Upsets as Arena Anthem Death Match Marches into Sweet 16

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You people are weird.

I’m not saying … yeah, no, I am saying. You = weird. Because the second round of this thing went hinky in a number of spots and I am genuinely staggered — and I’m a grumpy, old, jaded tabloid hack who’s seen it all and isn’t surprised by anything this world can throw at us. (“This thing,” btw, is the Deadspin Arena Anthem Death Match and welcome back to it — if that is not the reason for your click please close your tab and re-click elsewhere). Covid, global warming, a disgrace for a president, balloon boy, throw whatever you got at me: been there, wrote the dick-joke headline … but some of these results? Double-take city. Spit-take even!

I mean … Sabotage?! SANDSTORM?!? Y’all said, “Mmmmmm, nah, we good” to two of the bangingest songs in arena anthem history. You just … hand-waved them. WTF?

Another two all-time classics, Sirius and The Final Countdown? Burnt toast. Whoomp! (There It Is)? Whoomp, there it went. And yet … Party Rock Anthem lives on. Just … wow.


So now what … so now what? Well, I think there will be less and less shock as we go on, because what we are left with now in our Sweet 16 are all pretty legendary tunes. And Party Rock Anthem.

Wheat, chaff, separation, etc.

So let’s break down what happened and where I think it’s going, which seems like a really good exercise in futility, something I obviously live for or I wouldn’t create such weird things as arena anthem death matches.


Here we go! ...


1. Seven Nation Army, The White Stripes 81% ✅

16. Gonna Make You Sweat, C&C Music Factory 19%

(686 total votes)

I had a boss at the New York Daily News who was a Mets fan (and a cynic and a realist) ... and at some point in every baseball season, often as early as April or May, the Yankees would do their usual Yankee “aura and mystique” instant classic bullshit, and someone like Wilson Betemit would hit a game-winning homer in the bottom of the eleventh inning after climbing back from an early nine-run deficit and Michael Kay would blow a gasket and his vocal cords, and John Sterling would “that’s baseball, Suzyn!” for five minutes straight while she hyperventilated, and George Steinbrenner would immediately green light a “Yankeeography: Wilson Betemit” — and, yes, I AM now vying for the longest sentence in Deadspin history, thank you for noticing — and the point of said sentence was to tell you that at those moments in every season, Bob would stand up in the newsroom and announce to everyone in earshot, “YOU KNOW WHAT….?” and I’d get giddy with anticipation because I knew it was time, so I’d reply, “IS IT TIME?” and he’d pause for dramatic effect and then bellow “... JUST GIVE ’EM THE FUCKING TROPHY!”


Aaaaaaand … scene.

Just give Seven Nation Army the fucking trophy, FFS.

5. Song 2, Blur 54% ✅

13. Whoomp! There It Is, Tag Team 46%

(657 total votes)

Close one. And should have been. Two of the best songs for fan interaction with their sing-songy chori (yes, I just pluralized chorus). And now I think Blur has a legit chance to keep The White Stripes from once-again winning by more than 60 percentage points. But that’s not saying a lot about their chances of actually pulling the upset. I’m not seeing that, but again Y’ALL = WEIRD so … do your thing. I’ll count the votes.


6. The Final Countdown, Europe 44%

3. Lose Yourself, Eminem 56% ✅

(1,369 total votes)

Definitely a surprise to me. Look, Lose Yourself is easily in my all-time Top 10 rap songs, but it’s not exactly an arena jam. Certainly good for a tense moment. Obviously powerful. But TFC is iconic, and I expected a better run from it. But seeding holds and Em moves on to face a similar, and I believe even more beloved, classic ...


7. Eye of the Tiger, Survivor 56% ✅

2. Sabotage, Beastie Boys 44%

(1,562 total votes)

Probably should have known from it’s narrow 2% escape in round one that I had overseeded Sabotage, but I really just couldn’t believe it. WHO DOESN’T LOVE THIS SONG? Apparently you. You again! OTOH, perhaps Eye of the Tiger really just is the preeminent sports montage song in the catalog of American music and we collectively just cannot imagine it not reaching at least the Elite 8 in a tourney such as this. Em has already taken down one of those type anthems … this is gonna be a much tougher assignment.


Prediction? Paaaaain. I see a regional final of Seven Nation Army and Survivor’s monster jam.


1. Welcome To The Jungle, Guns N’ Roses 86% ✅

8. It Takes Two, Rob Base/DJ EZ Rock 14%

(454 total votes)

The numbers out West were a bit low in comparison to the rest of the bracket, but, oh, you know, the world was melting down that day and we hit the pause button on our little frivolity here for two days to give what deserved all of our attention its proper due. Much like the Big East tourney being cancelled at halftime of the first game because of Covid. But anyway … I really don’t think it would have mattered in at least three of these matchups. It would have been Blowout City no matter how many votes were tallied. Certainly it was the case here, where a beloved hip-hop dance ditty got stomped.


12. Pump Up The Jam, Technotronic 77% ✅

13. Timber, Pitbull/Ke$ha 23%

(548 total votes)

Our 12/13 Cinderella matchup wasn’t as close as the seeds might’ve suggested. Pump pulled away early in this one and now gets the pleasure of facing off with GNR. And I’m genuinely curious to see how it goes. Vox populi so far has really liked the 90s jock jams. But enough to knock off Goliath?


6. Crazy Train, Ozzy Osbourne 86% ✅

3. Truth Hurts, Lizzo 14%

(1,324 total votes)

This was a bloodbath and sets up an interesting matchup of personalities in the next round.


7. Turn Down for What, DJ Snake & Lil Jon 52% ✅

2. Sandstorm, Darude 48%

(1,096 total votes)

You can keep your NC State last-second dunk and your Valparaiso buzzer-beater, I don’t think I’ve ever been more stunned by an upset. I really, really, really thought Sandstorm was destined, if not for the championship game, at least the Final Four. Poppycock. You sent it packing in round freakin’ two. So now we get Lil Jon against Ozzy Osbourne and … I just can’t help but laugh at this image. I honestly believe something like this could forge a friendship and a reality show for the two of them. Who’s with me?


Prediction? GNR and Ozzy battle it out for the title of West champs.


1. Thunderstruck, AC/DC 79% ✅

9. Sirius, The Alan Parsons Project 21%

(397 total votes)

“The Last Dance” nostalgia bug has clearly worn off. And/or it never stood a chance. Thunderstruck lost only seven percentage points from its round one win against a far stronger opponent. That’s staying power.


5. Let Me Clear My Throat, DJ Kool 67% ✅

13. Apache, The Sugarhill Gang 33%

(1,212 total votes)

This was a fun matchup with a surprisingly lopsided victory for DJ Kool. Unfortunately I think his fun comes to an end against AC/DC, but also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, you’re weird and unpredictable and I dig that about you, man!


6. Black Betty, Ram Jam 60% ✅

3. All I Do Is Win, DJ Khaled 40%

(421 total votes)

I asked you to do the right thing here and for once you listened to me. Bless you. Black Betty deserves this run it’s on, and in my book it should not end here. The best riff in the tourney (IMHO) moves on to face, in my mind, the biggest interloper we have in the Sweet 16.


10. Party Rock Anthem, LMFAO 52% ✅

15. Rock and Roll All Nite, KISS. 48%  

(1,300 total votes)

Again, surprises don’t come easily to me, so when KISS pulled the first-round upset, I rolled with it as “popular band does job.” But see, I then expected them to go on a mini-run as a result and welp, nope, rug pulled out from under. And the goofy dudes from LMFAO move on. Good for them! It’s a fun song and deserves some accolades for getting here. Now send it home.


Prediction: AC/DC vs. Ram Jam in the battle of repetitious band names in the regional final here.


1. We Will Rock You, Queen 85% ✅

8. Hip Hop Hooray, Naughty by Nature 15%

(487 total votes)

Yeah, Queen is just nasty here. The first time it’s even going to have to suit up to win should be in its next battle.


5. Paradise City, Guns N’ Roses 77% ✅

13. Right Here, Right Now, Fatboy Slim 23%

(463 total votes)

Man, I really thought this would be closer, given RHRN’s strength in Round 1. But NOPE! It got 77% in that one and LOST to 77% in this one — the biggest yo-yo performance of our bracket. GNR gets the distinction of being the only band with two songs in the Sweet 16. Getting two into the Elite 8 is gonna take the upset of the tourney. Do they have it in them?


6. C’mon Ride It (The Train), Quad City DJs 83% ✅

3. Bad Blood, Taylor Swift w/ Kendrick Lamar 17%

(942 total votes)

Debacle. Tay Tay got choo-chooed right over. The QCDJs are a force to be reckoned with in this thing. But they now draw the song that I chose as my champ. Which means they are definitely going to beat it.


7. Blitzkrieg Bop, The Ramones 45%

2. Kickstart My Heart, Motley Crüe 55% ✅

(1,091 total votes)

It got a scare from the Brothers Ramones, but the Crüe held on. Gotta be honest though, two middling performances do not give me hope that you see in this song what I do. I honestly believe it is in dire straits in the next round. Upset alert: code red.


Prediction: Queen rides that choo-choo into the Quad City for the Midwest title bout.

Eight more songs lose their chance at being truly elite starting Monday on the Tweeties … Vote and enjoy! I’ll see you back here with the tallies later this week.