Musicians weigh in on ‘HNIC’ anthem
TORONTO – Rock icon Burton Cummings would like to see a hockey anthem that suits the toughness of the game. Members of the Stills and the Arrogant Worms prefer a puck theme with charm. And country star George Canyon wants something with a Celtic flair.
Canadian musicians are weighing in on CBC-TV’s “Hockey Night in Canada” anthem challenge as the field of five finalists is set to be whittled down to two on Thursday. The winner, as chosen by the voting public, will be unveiled Saturday.
Cummings, an avid hockey fan, listened to the five tunes during an interview this week and said the high-energy, funky “Ice Warriors” by Gerry Mosby of Toronto “kills the rest of them.”
“From what I heard there, I would go hands down with (‘Ice Warriors’), I wouldn’t even think twice,” Cummings – who was in the city promoting his new album, “Above the Ground,” set for release Nov. 4 – said after sampling all the tracks on a laptop in his hotel room.
“(‘Ice Warriors’) is miles above the rest as far as being suited for ‘Hockey Night in Canada,”‘ said Cummings, who was playing air guitar and bopping his head while sitting in a chair listening to the song.
“The visual will change from year to year – what shots they use of what players and whatever – but I think that one suits the mood of what’s to come: a tough Canadian game. To me, I’d go with (‘Ice Warriors’).”
“Sticks to the Ice,” a brassy tune by 13-year-old Toronto native Robert Fraser Burke, meanwhile, has caught the attention of a few other artists.
Chris Patterson of the Toronto-based farcical musical trio the Arrogant Worms says the song “set itself apart from the other ones.”
“I don’t think it made much difference that it came from a 13-year-old, to be honest, but it was just different enough from the other ones that it sounded the best,” said Patterson, who sings and plays bass in the band which released the album “Torpid” last month.
“It worked with the visuals that they’ve now provided for it and it just kind of got me excited way more than the other ones did.”
David Hamelin of the Stills is also rooting for the teen’s track.
“I think it’s got the most melody. I think it’s the most memorable. I think the other ones just sound like they rely on production tricks too much and they don’t really have the essence of that one that the 13-year-old kid made,” the singer-guitarist said over the line from Montreal, where the rock outfit is based.
“I really absolutely do not care that he’s young. He could be nine years old or he could be 100 years old or he could be a fetus or he could be a corpse or anything – like, it doesn’t matter. It’s a good song and … I think that should be the one.”
To country star George Canyon, the old “Hockey Night in Canada” theme – which CBC lost the rights to earlier this year – is one of the most recognizable melodies in the world.
“Replacing this is a really big deal. It’s a serious venture,” he said from his ranch outside Calgary, adding that his future grandchildren might one day be sitting down to watch hockey and listen to the new theme.
He was impressed by Burke’s entry, calling the youngster an “incredibly talented young man,” but said his favourite was the Celtic-tinged submission from Beaumont, Alta.-based elementary school teacher Colin Oberst.
“Being born and raised in Nova Scotia, all I knew growing up was hockey … hockey was life,” he said.
“And, of course, being of Scottish descent, whenever I hear the bagpipes, or anything that sounds like the bagpipes, I go into what I like to call battle mode. It just makes me stand up and feel alive, and it always has.”
Canyon, whose new record, “What I Do,” drops Nov. 11, says he thinks producer Bob Rock did a great job finessing the entries, adding that he never could have written anything close to what the five finalists have done.
The other two contenders in the Top 5 are “Let the Game Begin” by Christian St-Roch & Jimmy Tanaka of Chateauguay and Verdun, Que., and “Eleventh Hour” by Graham McRae of Burnaby B.C.
CBC received 14,685 entries for the contest to replace the old theme, which is now the property of TSN and was recently given a new arrangement by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
The Top 2 finalists in the CBC contest, as chosen by the voting public, will be unveiled Thursday evening during a double-header NHL broadcast (the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Detroit Red Wings and the Calgary Flames at the Vancouver Canucks).
Viewers can start voting for the final winner – via online, text message or phone – during Thursday night’s twin bill until Oct. 10 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
The winning anthem will be unveiled on Saturday during “Hockey Night in Canada.”
Musicians weigh in on ‘HNIC’ anthem