Welcome to the first instalment of That Sounds A Bit Mental, a not-that-regular series of articles in which I take a look at the very best (worst) from the world of music.
If you have any albums you’d like to recommend for That Sounds A Bit Mental – and I’m talking novelty pish where every track’s a cringe here, not “Nickelback lol” – let me know in the comments below or email me at email@example.com pronto.
WWF Wrestlemania: The Album was executive produced by Simon Cowell(!), with songs produced and composed by Mike Stock and Pete Waterman (of Stock, Aitken and Waterman songwriting fame)
With such musical heavyweights in charge of the album, you’d think this would have resulted in some solid pop hits based on the wrestling superstars of the time.
Instead, the resulting 12 tracks (ten if you bought the US version) were an odd combination of cheesy music and various WWF superstars talking over it. Not singing, mind: talking.
Here’s a full track-by-track review of the album, along with YouTube links to each song so you can grimace along with the album in its entirety as you read.
1) WWF Superstars – Wrestlemania
Probably the most well-known song on the album, title track Wrestlemania makes an arse of things immediately by opening with a clip of someone asking “I said are you ready… for the Survivor Series?”.
If you’re a regular WWE watcher, there’s a chance the rest of the song may be at least partially familiar to you, or at least the instrumental part.
This is sometimes used round about this time of the year when the WWE shows montages of previous Wrestlemania moments, and back in the day when Linda McMahon used to be involved, it was also her entrance theme.
That’s probably because it’s the catchiest of the songs on the album, though it does start to fall apart a little when the wrestlers turn up. The verses basically consist of the likes of Bret Hart, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Tatanka and the Big Boss Man talking a load of random shite.
Best of the bunch are the Nasty Boys, who (perhaps unintentionally) threaten the listener with a year’s worth of sexual assaults, suggesting “you’re gonna get nasty stuff right down your throats all through ’93”.
The worst part is undoubtedly the rap which kicks in at the 2:10 mark and contains such meaningful lyrics as “here it comes, comes, comes, comin’ atcha / so pick it up, yo you better capture”.
So far though, so decent.
Sample lyric: “Hey, ever since I was a little bitty boy, I wanted to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s to be a law enforcement officer”
2) WWF Superstars – Slam Jam
Although it appears second in the album, this was actually the first single released from it. Remarkably, it managed to reach number 4 in the UK singles charts.
Known as Summerslam Jam in the US for some reason, it’s more or less the same sort of thing: a similar drum beat, more wrestlers talking pish during the verse, another catchy chorus and another inexplicable rapping bit.
This time the stars lending their pearls of wisdom include Bret Hart (again), ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, The British Bulldog and – somewhat bizarrely – The Undertaker, who wasn’t really much of a talker let alone a singer.
The inadvertent sexual innuendo also gets a little dodgier too, with the listener being politely informed that “everybody wants to pump with the British Bulldog” and Bret Hart adding that “the Hitman bends, but the Hitman does not break”.
Again, it’s another harmless enough song, and a bit of a toe-tapper. At this point you may have been under the impression that Mr Cowell had pulled off something magical. And by that I don’t mean he engaged in a lewd act with David Blaine.
Things are about to go downhill very quickly, though.
Sample lyric: “Yeeeah, Slam Jam thank you ma’am, it’s the Macho Man, yeeeah”
3) Hacksaw Jim Duggan – USA
When it came to dumb meatheads in the WWF, Hacksaw Jim Duggan was up there. No other wrestler actually came to the ring with a short plank so viewers could more easily compare which was thicker.
Hacksaw was also the WWF’s patriotic figure, the one who would help US fans feel good about being American when Hulk Hogan wasn’t doing it. Or Sergeant Slaughter. Or Lex Luger.
His chant of “USA, USA” was arguably the easiest ‘cheap pop’ in wrestling history, as anyone who didn’t chant along with him was clearly a traitor.
It’s this trademark chant that forms the basis of his Wrestlemania: The Album track, though it’s been given a little ‘flavour’ to keep things interesting.
The backing music for this one sounds like the sort of thing you’d hear in a promotional VHS tape for Nintendo 64 games, complete with a random man saying “POWER” every now and then.
And, of course, you’ve also got the inevitable verses in which Hacksaw, realising he can’t sing, instead has a little chat with us about his pre-match ritual.
This heart-to-heart reveals some things about the big man that you may never have known about him before, such as the fact he apparently can’t pronounce ‘apprehensive’ (39 seconds in).
Sample lyric: “Hacksaw Jim Duggan be-be-beats people up / Hacksaw Jim Duggan be-be-beats people up-up-up-up”
4) The Nasty Boys – Nasty Boy Stomp
I could never take the Nasty Boys seriously, mainly because one of them was called Knobbs.
Nasty Boy Stomp is apparently an attempt to establish them as a mean and moody tag team, but instead they come across as a couple of screaming numpties flanked by an R&B troupe.
They take great pleasure in telling us repeatedly that “93 is the year of the Nasties”, while samples of commentators Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon inform us throughout that, helpfully, “the Nasty Boys are just plain nasty”.
Backing them up is a group of people only there to sing the word “nasty” over and over again, in a similar style to Janet Jackson’s song Nasty, while a bunch of other chaps keep chanting “you nasty boys, you nasty, nasty”.
My favourite bit however – and by far the least nasty part – is when what sounds like Cameo (of Word Up fame) pop up out of nowhere to sing “oh you nasty boys” (1:07).
Eventually, they clearly decide nobody’s buying this ‘nasty’ pish no matter how many times people say it and so, at the 2:29 mark, they decide to change things up and add what sounds like a rejected Inspector Gadget theme.
Incidentally, in case you were wondering, throughout 1993 the WWF World Tag Team Title was held by three different teams: Money Inc, the Steiner Brothers and the Quebecers.
So in reality, ’93 was the year of the Nasties about as much as 2014 was the year of James Dean.
Sample lyric: “It’s just you and us, and you’re going to Nastyville, and this is one trip you’re not coming back from”
5) Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart – Never Been A Right Time To Say Goodbye
Easily the most bewildering track on the album.
I’d love to meet the person who came up with this decision and spend a week on holiday with them to try to find out what makes them tick.
Take Bret Hart, who at this point was the company’s biggest star (after Hulk Hogan took a leave of absence following steroid allegations).
Here’s a guy who was supposed to, quite simply, be cool as fuck. He came to the ring with outlandish pink mirrored sunglasses, and would end his promos by declaring himself “the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be”.
That’s why the most obvious thing to do with this most confident and self-assured of individuals is have him ‘sing’ (i.e. speak) a ballad in which he struggles to think of the best way to break up with his girlfriend.
It’s never made explicitly clear in the lyrics why he’s leaving his missus, though at one point he says: “if I stay, she’ll only see right through me, and then that look of shame inside my eyes.”
As far as I’m concerned, that means he was cheating on her. And given that earlier in the album he and the British Bulldog were more or less flirting with each other, I would wager that “everybody wants to pump with the British Bulldog” was more accurate than we realised.
Allegations of sleeping with his brother-in-law aside, the real point I’m trying to make is that this song is such a bad fit for Bret Hart that it actually goes all the way around the shit-o-meter and actually threatens to become good again.
Let me leave you with this little tidbit of (true) information, though: the song was originally intended for David Hasselhoff. I think that says it all.
Sample lyric: “And I know lies will only hurt her / And I could never see her in that way / But either way she’ll end up crying / And I’d sooner walk away and let her love again”
6) The Undertaker – The Man In Black
Never in the history of music has something descended so rapidly in quality as The Man In Black.
Opening with a bloody filthy guitar solo that grabs you by the collar and slaps you in the face after Bret Hart’s ballad, your attention is well and truly captured.
Then the man himself pops up and, sounding suitably moody, growls: “The man in black has got a Tombstone just for yoooooou.”
“YAAAASSSSSSSS”, you yell. “NOW WE’RE TALKING.”
Then he says: “Dance with the Taker”. You stop yelling. You prepare your heart for inevitable disappointment.
“Slam jam death,” he says. It makes no sense. And then…
Well. It saddens me to even try to describe what happens next. Listen for yourself from the beginning and notice how it only takes 44 seconds for the whole thing to go tits up.
How did we go from a cool as hell guitar riff to something that wouldn’t sound out of place in Sonic The Hedgehog 3 in less than a minute? Argh, it’s so bloody depressing. If only the next track was something truly incredible…
Sample lyric: “The Undertaker will embalm you / Rotting flesh, blueing carcass”
7) Macho Man Randy Savage – Speaking From The Heart
YES. This is far and away the best song on the album.
If you ask me, there aren’t enough songs in the world that start with the lyrics: “The tower of power, too sweet to be sour / Funky like a monkey, ooooh yeeeeeah.”
Randy Savage (now dead) was best known for three things in the WWF: having a hot wife (now dead), being able to drop a hell of an elbow drop, and having a voice so distinctive that John Wayne (now dead) would have been jealous of it.
One thing he is not, however, is a rapper. But he doesn’t appear to have been informed of this.
Speaking From The Heart is the only song on the album that I’m almost certain the superstar performing it also had some input with the lyrics. Savage is fucking mental and his raps in here are also suitably batshit.
“Soaring with the eagles and slithering with the snakes, I’ve been everywhere in between, I am your friend,” he politely tells us.
“This is the way it is and I will be there when it happens, the past the present and the future all in one time,” he adds. This man is deeper than Churchill’s war bunker.
I can’t stress enough how amazing this song is, especially with the provided music video. How many rappers do you know who take the time to start listing planets halfway through a song? Exactly.
Sample lyric: “Wherever you go, I will be with you, I’ll always be with you, yeeeeaah / The moon, the stars, Venus, Pluto, Sat-turn, yeaaaaah, lookin’ down”
8) Tatanka – Tatanka Native American
Following the sheer glory of Speaking From The Heart, this is where the album starts to hit a slump it can never recover from.
Tatanka was never the best mic worker, so it isn’t much of a surprise that Tatanka Native American probably has the shittest chat of all the tracks in the album.
“I wanna thank the great seas for the wisdom they have given me,” he says, “and I wanna thank the great spirit for the power he has given me”.
Whatever mate, save it for your Oscar acceptance speech.
Top marks for the chorus though, in which a group of men just shout “Tatanka! Buffalo!” over and over again, followed by some cool dudes singing “I got native American blood in my veins and I fight”.
Perhaps the most blatant sign that Tatanka isn’t quite as exciting as his fellow superstars comes at the 2:06 mark, where another random rapper is introduced to take over. Even he can’t be arsed though, as he seemingly gives up halfway through a verse.
In short: piss off, Tatanka.
Sample lyric: “I got the vibe from the tribe so let me be brief / I’m the warrior Indian chief”
9) Mr Perfect – I’m Perfect
By this point in the album it seems Stock and Waterman couldn’t be arsed making up more generic ’90s dance beats with wrestlers talking over them.
Instead, then, for Mr Perfect’s song they just took his WWF theme and made a dance version of that instead.
With Mr Perfect talking over it, of course.
If you’ve ever imagined what Mr Perfect’s theme tune would sound like if he wasn’t a wrestler but the star of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, then here is your answer.
Sample lyric: “Mr Perfect, Mr Perfect, Mr Perfect, Perfect / Mr Perfect, Mr Perfect, Mr Perfect, Perfect”
10) Crush – Cold Crush
So far, it’s safe to say all the songs so far have been minor embarrassments for the superstars involved.
The Undertaker can be the ultimate badass for the rest of his life, but he’ll always have the crushing disappointment that is The Man In Black as part of his legacy.
Spare a thought, then, for Crush. Not only was he also ‘blessed’ with a terrible track of his own, it ultimately didn’t even appear in the US version of the album.
When your song is in a terrible album and yet somehow stands out enough to be so bad that only Brits were allowed to hear it, that’s quite the achievement.
I’ll be honest, half the time I have no fucking clue what he’s saying in this one. It’s a lot of mumbling about thanking the fans for getting behind him and pushing him to the top or something, as if he’s a broken down jalopy.
At one point he says what sounds like: “One at a time, two at a time, a limbo competition.”
After much analysis I’ve decided it’s actually meant to be “I live for competition”, but given Crush’s gimmick was that he was a Hawaiian, for years I was sure he was just boasting about being really good at limbo.
If you’ve actually listened to all these songs so far you’ll have figured out the routine by now. Backing singers state the name of the song, the wrestler talks a load of shite, then a horrible instrumental bit kicks in.
This time it’s a weird fake saxophone that sounds a lot like Push The Feeling On by the Nightcrawlers, if it was performed by someone with no ears or fingers.
Sample lyric: “You know, I was just thinking, if I was back home in Hawaii, I’d probably be kicking back at the beach / Surfing, diving, diving, surfing, crushing open some coconuts”
11) Big Boss Man – Hard Times
Of all the wrestlers featured in the album, the Big Boss Man was the only one who already had an entrance theme with lyrics.
You’d have thought the easiest solution, then, would be to simply take that track and dump it on the CD with no extra effort, much like the WWF later did with its WWF: The Music collection of albums.
Instead, some bright spark decided what was best for business was to record a cover version of the song, complete with horrible synth bits and what sounds like a Bon Jovi tribute act on vocals.
Oh, and, of course, the now mandatory daft speaking bit with the Boss Man sharing his words of wisdom.
“Just like a Big Boss Man, I made a vow to protect and serve,” he tells us, confusingly. Wait… just like a Big Boss Man? Are you trying to tell me you actually aren’t one?
Are you… are you just pretending to be a law enforcement officer? Are you actually just some big prick dressed up like a policeman?
I’m shocked, sir.
12) WWF Superstars – Slam Jam 12″
Here’s another UK exclusive track that didn’t make it to the American version of the album.
Since it was pretty much illegal in the UK (well, it felt like it) to release a single without also offering a longer 12″ mix, when Slam Jam came out as a single this version was included too.
It’s just a longer version of Slam Jam with a longer instrumental bit at the start.
More importantly though, it serves as a reminder of the audio journey you’ve been on.
Over the course of these 12 songs you’ve been on a musical adventure: one that started with such promise (Wrestlemania and Slam Jam) and ended with such disappointment (everything else).
The inclusion of a long version of Slam Jam at the end, then, acts as an important message. If you start something positively and things start to look bleak, stick with it, because eventually that positivity will return even stronger.
Either that or they just wanted to beef up the CD a bit.
There you have it, then. Wrestlemania: The Album. Its impact on the music world shook the industry to its very core: it reached number 10 in the UK charts and failed to chart in the US Billboard top 200.
That didn’t stop Macho Man Randy Savage, realising he was the true star of the album, from releasing his own rap CD many years later.
But that’s for another article.