Why the Caps fist pump to DJ Pauly D
As soon as HBO concluded episode 2 of its 24/7 series with DJ Pauly D Beating Dat Beat, it was obvious that the song would become the fans' anthem. And indeed.
"Beat that beat up washington," John Carlson wrote on Twitter not long after the Winter Classic ended, and Washington did. One Caps fan apparently requested the song from a Pittsburgh DJ on Saturday night. "Get that DJ Pauly D ready!!" another said on Twitter. "Pauly D and fist-pump dance time?" asked yet another. A fourth anointed Beat Dat Beat the song of the day on his Tumblr page on Sunday. Several Washington Post sports writers represented Sunday night on Capitol Hill.
Caps fans have shared stories of buying the song on iTunes or humming it on game days. And when Elliot in the Morning interviewed Mike Knuble this week, he was introduced to the strains of DJ Pauly D. "You had me fist-pumping there, with that music," Knuble said.
And yet, the unanswered question lingered: whose idea was it to link a Jersey Shore sensation with Washington's hockey team? This demanded a Sports Bog investigation.
My immediate thought was that it had to be someone with a European taste in dance music and enough dressing-room standing to rule the iPod selection. That meant Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom. Alternatively, it could have been a wry veteran with a strong taste for irony. In other words, Matt Bradley.
Here's the part of the story I was missing, though. There's one member of the team who's young, in touch with pop culture and with two seasons playing for the New Jersey Rockets of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League on his resume. That player's name is John Carlson.
"It kind of started when Jersey Shore came out," Carlson told me Saturday night, after he had finished his last interview about the actual hockey game. "Everyone was kind of making fun of me, but I stayed strong. I love New Jersey, and I'll rep it all the time. Then everyone started actually watching it, and I think it just kind of spiraled from there."
Karl Alzner remembered Carlson playing Beat Dat Beat for him on the way to the airport earlier this season. Alzner, who's nobody's dummy, recognized the potential right away.
"Obviously it's not the best lyrics, because he's just talking for most of it," Carlson's defensive partner told me. "But the beat is good, the chorus is fun, and that's what I really look for in a song."
(If you listen to the entire song, which I've now done in the interest professional propriety, you'll realize that Alzner is, in fact, correct about the talking thing. Sample spoken word lyric: "This is DJ Pauly D. Being a Guido's a way of life. I don't represent all Italians. I represent myself." Or this. "Yo, how come every time I'm DJ'ing, there'll be a hot-ass girl, but she got an ugly-ass friend. C'mon man, I ain't got no time for that." And so on. Can't really sing along to that.)
Now, Carlson is not the official postgame DJ -- he said that honor is performed by a more senior player, typically Backstrom or Brooks Laich. But after initially playing the tune off Carlson's iPod, one of the vets scored it for himself and it became the victory anthem, or what Carlson refers to as the team's "feel-good song."
"Every team does it, I think, they have a feel-good song after a win," he said. "After every win, they throw it on."
"We didn't have to convince anyone," Alzner added. "Because one of the older guys wanted it. And when one of the older guys want it, you can usually make it happen."
So, the fist-pumping? Was that done for dramatic effect with the HBO cameras looming? To the contrary. That's actually part of the routine.
"Well, I think no one really wants to fist pump on TV," Alzner said, referencing some of the bashful looks above. "I don't care. It doesn't really matter to me."
And finally, after one of the biggest January wins in franchise history, in front of a massive national audience, against a bitter rival, did the Caps actually Beat Dat Beat on Saturday night? Well, sort of. There were so many post-game interviews on the ice, and such a massive post-game media horde in the dressing room, that the team's normal private time was cut short. So they indeed played the song, but in abbreviated fashion.
"It wasn't loud enough, though," Alzner said, gesturing to the tiny speaker in the Heinz Field dressing room. "The sound doesn't carry well. That's just a little guy; you need the big speakers. I came over here to turn it up and it wouldn't go up any louder, and then I kind of lost the buzz."
So what's next? Well, DJ Pauly D already knows what's up.
"Washington Capitals fist pumping to DJPaulyD in the dressing room This Is Great!!!!" he wrote on his own Twitter feed, which has 580,000 or so followers.
"I'm trying to get someone to get him down to a game," Carlson said. "I doubt he's a hockey fan, but maybe it'll help his reputation."
Anyone in a position to make this happen?
| January 4, 2011; 1:09 PM ET
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