It’s the beginning of the season and we’re bringing back one of our favorite (and least popular) recurring articles. Song of the Game looks to capture the essence of the latest Detroit Lions contest. Sometimes the lyrics will properly invoke what transpired, other times it may just feel like the 60 minutes of football we all just witnessed. Sometimes we’ll just love a song so much that we try to force a match. It’s an imperfect science.
The idea is that at the end of the year, we’ll have a full 16 (or more) song playlist that will accurately describe the Detroit Lions 2017 season. In fact, if you want to relive the 2016 season, we have our full Spotify playlist embedded below.
But now it’s time to move on and turn our attention to Week 1 of the 2017 season.
Lions-Cardinals Song of the Game: “Hocus Pocus” by Focus (live version)
In the world of the NFL, Week 1 is all about first impressions. What will become of this team? Where do they stand now? Where will they be in three months? After a full offseason of anticipation, we are all just waiting for that first quarter of that first game to set the tone for the rest of the year.
The 2017 Detroit Lions and the band Focus shared the same first impression: What the fuck is this?
My first introduction to both the song “Hocus Pocus” and the band Focus, came from my unhealthy Summer movie obsession “Baby Driver.” I saw that movie four times in the theater, and was even more obsessed with the soundtrack. “Hocus Pocus” was the one song that I was immediately drawn to, both for its general kick-assery and its bizarre interludes. Imagine my elation when I stumbled upon the live video version of the song above.
Focus is a Norwegian band that never truly caught on in the states, but somehow the band still persists today. While the basic structure of the song “Hocus Pocus” resembles a pretty standard hard rock song from the early 70s, it was defined by its oddities: specifically, the bizarre yodeling, gibberish lyrics and flute solo.
The Lions season opener against the Cardinals shared all of the classic signs of a football game. There was a coin toss, a national anthem, a kickoff, some tackling, some touchdowns here and there. But this game will ultimately be known for its insanity.
Matthew Stafford and Carson Palmer, two near MVP candidates in 2016 and 2015 respectively, began the game by trading awful-looking interceptions. Just like the manic pace of this song, things quickly spiraled out of control from there.
(Mild “Baby Driver” spoiler ahead. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want it spoiled)
The scene in which Edgar Wright brilliantly uses the song “Hocus Pocus” is when all hell has broken loose. The bank robbery has gone terribly wrong, and Baby, surprised by his own sabotage, is forced to improvise. And what does he do? RUNS. The music intensifies as Baby hauls ass through the streets of Atlanta. There’s a small chance he escapes his pursuers, but we all know where this is eventually headed.
Punter Kasey Redfern is Baby. Hoisted by his own petard, Redfern had no other option but to book it down the sideline, as the reality of a football game had come crashing down upon him. Picture him running down the sideline with that guitar riff blaring and this face behind his facemask:
But my favorite thing about this song—and especially the live version—is how the intensity and tempo continue to increase at seemingly impossible rates. By the fifth or sixth time the guitar riff kicks back in, you’re no longer puzzled and confused, but hooked. Your heartbeat is racing without moving an inch. You’re not sure if the song is going to spiral out of control or if you’ll eventually weather the storm and ride out its final wave.
In the studio version, as the guitar riff kicks in for the final time, the leader vocalist—Thijs van Leer—lets out a maniacal laugh. I’m sure if you took this laugh and replaced it with my immediate reaction to Kenny Golladay’s game-sealing touchdown catch, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. We rode the dragon and survived. 1-0.