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The Most Iconic Skate Video Song
An argument to spark an Instagram competition
Well, How Did I Get Here?
This year, Friendsgiving featured a DJ with a complete living room set-up. The fascinating thing about all of this was the knowledge passed down about the music's beat per minute (BPM) arrangement. Chopped and screwed UGK flowing into Rolling Stones deep cuts like glasses of Grenache filled the night.
Friendsgiving also featured Skate Trivia Volume One. Back in peak pandemic days, I ventured to discover the Most Iconic Skate Video Song (MISVS). It was a reckless, soon-to-be abandoned project, resurrected thanks to an evening of Spanish wine, tough trivia, and a quick tutorial on how music works.
We all have a personal MISVS list, but as a trained journalist, I attempted to remain objective and include songs sourced from outside myself for this study.
Being a trained journalist means I failed everything outside of English class. But we must be scientific if we’re going to get into this (Uptown Top) ranking.
Here We Are Now, Entertain Us
Scientifically, Smells Like Teen Spirit ranks as the most iconic song of the modern era. For the sake of our argument, we can implore the framework computer scientist/musician Dr. Mick Grierson used to arrive at his list of iconic songs.
“We found the most significant thing these songs have in common is that most of them use sound in a very varied, dynamic way when compared to other records. This makes the sound of the record exciting, holding the listeners' attention.”- Dr. Grierson
When we think of iconic skate videos, an undeniable case is Arto Saari's effortless fakie flip at MACBA. At the same time, David Bowie prophesizes about time and cigarettes.
Pause and reflect if you need.
Dr. Grierson’s work was not a passion project but a corporate study to get people to buy Fiat’s. As much as we love skate videos, they’re primarily a marketing tactic. 25 to 60-minute commercials (now shorter) attempting to take your money or give you fodder to talk shit.
To sell more cars, skateboards, or pants, you gotta have a dope track.
As the architect suggests, the best songs come in at a BPM of 120-125. For our purposes, that limits our list to “Crawshay” and “My Girls”. From a personal standpoint, we could end this list now.
Classifying music also involves something called energy, which seems like an appropriate adjective and an empirical method to describe something that has to do with an “action sport.”
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” comes in at a BPM of 117 and an energy ranking of 91. Looks Okay To Me fell into a goldmine by throwing back to Dan Wolfe and using “Once in a Lifetime” (117/92) to elevate the plaza wizardry of Bobby and Hjalte while using Reese Forbes as a guiding light.
The Cheif, a force majeure helmer in his own right, skated to your party uncle's favorite tracks, miraculously cementing his place in the rail chomper Hall of Fame by parlaying:
Numbers do not lie.
According to Skate Video Site, “Smells Like Teens Spirit” was featured in the 1991 Sims, The Second Coming video. *Shrug emoji*
Other top ten Dr. Grierson rankings that cross over into skate videos include:
2. “Imagine” John Lennon
5. “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen
6. “Hey Jude” The Beatles
7. “Like A Rolling Stone” Bob Dylan
10. “Sweet Child of Mine” Guns N’ Roses
The tracks on the MISVS list tend to feature an:
Average BPM: 113
Average Energy: 69 (nice)
Falling closest into that formula is skateboarding's unofficial anthem, “‘93 Til Infinity”, at 103/67. From 411 to Tampa, the track will most likely forever spin.
Look Listen and Observe
Up in the sky? Up in the sky on the MISVS list, “Above the Clouds” hits our highest BPM at 172. In tune with the Crazy Monk himself, Inspectah Deck proclaims, “Yeah, I leave scientists mentally scarred.”
Laced with skatepark lines, closeout kink rails, and a ragdoll, the part and its song come “with a force that can't be compared,” says Guru.
By some galactic miracle, the lowest BPM (69) on our list belongs to Kurupt and Michael Shawn Carrol. “Trylogy” is laced with a Yeah Right preview and the line to solidify itself as an icon.
When it comes to heavy hitters, we notice a pattern. There’s a scientific formula here for sure.
The heavier the part, the lower the song's energy. For example, at an energy of 48, “Knights in White Satin” kind of fucks you up on its own. The flute solo in visual form pierces the soul.
It’s almost impossible to hear the song without seeing the Caprice Classic break the law down the I-5 to get to UCI for a flawless switch flip.
Even Justin Haward, the track composer, is perplexed at the song's effect on people.
“[T]here’s a strange power to the song...it’s the audience that brings something magical to that song. The atmosphere in the room is suddenly different. There’s a feeling to it that’s quite electric.”- Justin Haward, The Moody Blues
Could Holland and Hunt have possessed an orb to have known Dr. Grierson’s iconic song mixing and changing melodies formula? Visually we’re gifted with Kirchart going from slow motion to regular and vice-versa--sometimes mid-trick.
The energy is next to non-existent in The Moody Blues live version, but it becomes transcendental once that back noseblunt at UCI is about to hit. Was the song a love letter, never meant to send to the white hubba?
If you want the curtains, it pays to use a chill song:
Keith Hufnagle (RIP), an architect in his own right, nails the indolent BPM/energy formula by going relatively low on both sides (82/52) for his part in Penal Code. Taking a stand for his argument of “Nah pop no style, I strictly roots,” Huf knew when the ollies are that big, and the style speaks volumes, go ahead and lower them audio levels.
Diary of a Mad Man
If we heard this song once, would it be a skate video hit? Throw it at us some 70ish times, and you got a Munster winning run.
Could Logic videos have made a lasting impression with a theme song? Dustin Charlton had a banger.
In comparison, not a video part, but a vibe, “Street Hassle” (119/28) gets a nod for its repetition and juxtaposition to hi-jinx.
Similarly used in The Squid and the Whale, the song offers “a moment of clarity, and catharsis...the music suggests a blooming of independence.”
Peppered throughout Baker 3, we return to the hassle to announce Rowan going pro and again in Baker 4 to solidify the brand's maturation.
Lemonade Was A Popular Drink and It Still Is
This is a make
Go back to Skypager and Julien Stranger to find “possibly one of the most enigmatic lines in the history of hip-hop.” While others disagree, that bar hits just in time to show the most iconic gap to tailslide in the history of the game.
Speaking non-scientifically, we reach the most significant human energy levels when Rick McCrank hits the last bite of the Australian triple-decker and Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” kicks in. At 160/86 the anthem doesn’t technically stand out in the spreadsheet, but you know the dance floor is going explode when “WHO TOOK THE BOMP” drops.
Anthony Pappalardo, an alien, placed in the mosaic, gave us a classic in 2003 with the Dinosaur Jr. track, “Forget the Swan”. Interesting to note the energy (94) outpacing the BPM (76) makes for a fine yoga warmup.
If I Ruled The World
What is, The Most Iconic Skate Video Song? Like the argument of skateboarding in the Olympics, how can you put a score on art? Recent social media posts would tell you that some skateboarders do not believe in science, so this argument of numbers and data may not suffice.
Our best shot is if one of the skate historians like Village Psychic, Useless Wooden Knowledge, or SML Talk blesses us with a bracket-style grudge match. Until then, keep the conversation going in the comments below.