Why Kanye West’s “Amazing” Is the Perfect Soundtrack to the NBA Playoffs


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.