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Devout NBA fans are well aware that every playoff season is highlighted by one theme song mercilessly drilled into your head — yes, Rob Thomas, “This Is How a Heart Breaks” is an excellent way to describe a Pistons-Spurs finale. This year’s model, Kanye West’s “Amazing,” is, commendably, at least a song an actual NBA player might conceivably be caught dead enjoying. “Caught dead” is an apt phrase, though, because repetition of the word “amazing” aside — “Where Amazing Happens” is the NBA Playoffs’ slogan, incidentally — it’s an unbelievably dour, almost suicidally resigned dirge. Which works great, actually, whether your team is currently trying to guard LeBron or not.
As your friend and mine Tom Breihan put it:
“Amazing” takes a triumphant-on-paper lyric (“My reign is as far as your eyes can see”) and–with Kanye’s flattened-out vocal and a death-march drum-track–turns it into a grim lament.
What’s more, the rest of the song is way less triumphant on paper: Verses include “It’s amazing/I’m the reason/Everybody fired up this evening/I’m exhausted/Barely breathing/Holding on to what I believe in” and “I’m a monster/I’m a maven/I know this world is changin’/Never gave in/Never gave up/I’m the only thing I’m afraid of.” Dogged pursuit of an amorphous, possibly unattainable, ultimately ego-stroking goal to the exclusion of all else, including your happiness/sanity? Sounds familiar somehow, particularly after watching a depleted, injury-ravaged Celtics team slog through yet another game 7 at just past the midway point of an insanely long playoff season. I can’t imagine the NBA did this on purpose (they could’ve gone with Aerosmith’s “Amazing,” I guess), but nonetheless, kudos. Go Cavs.