It is 2006. You are 2K Sports, the newly created challenger to EA Sports. You've been cleaved from Sega, bought up by Take-Two, given an exclusive licence to make Major League Baseball games. You're young and ready, lean and hungry, ready to establish a new order. The title card announcing games under the new 2K Sports label opens to the roar of the crowd and a smack-talking athlete announcing "You're in the big leagues, baby! The big leagues!" Oh yeah.
And then someone farts this tune through a kazoo.
This is the original 2K Sports Theme, as heard in the menu of MLB 2K6. My opinion of that song has not changed since I heard it six years ago: What the hell is this? It's awful, not awful in hindsight, the way Fall Out Boy was OK back then and you wouldn't be caught dead listening to that shit now. I mean just WTF bad.
2K Sports was in a bit of a jam-up in 2006. When the sports series had been published by Sega, it used ESPN branding and, therefore, ESPN theme songs for its broadcast presentation. But then ESPN and EA Sports did the deed, giving 2K's rival exclusive use of the Worldwide Leader's talent and imagery. So 2K Sports had to come up with something original, and this is the first stab at it.
Yes, that's a high-pitched vuvuzela with a trilling Meat Loaf guitar underneath, followed by the only groovy part of the song, the Sexy Sax Man solo, occasionally interrupted by the trumpets' high pitched bleating. I wanted to be sure I wasn't crazy in my appraisal. No, that really does suck, said Kirk Hamilton, the editor of Kotaku Melodic. "It sounds like every instrument was recorded separately, so disparate are their grooves," he added.
For MLB 2K7, the best-reviewed game in this series, that bombastic opening was cut out and the saxophone, the instrument actually pulling its weight in this, remained during broadcast cutscenes. Rock music current for the times opened with the main menu at startup.
Fortunately enough, this has a happy ending for the unlucky souls who had to hear that at their work. In menu soundtracks, an expensive obligation that nearly all sports video games do terribly, 2K Sports came to curate them extremely well. And its revised anthem and original broadcast presentation, particularly in NBA 2K, is best-in-class. But wow, did this get off to a bad start.