Boston – The soundtrack of Baseball Clubhouse follows a predictable pattern, with its beats mostly studded with hip-hop, country, rock and Latin music. But when video clips of the Boston Red Sox celebrating various playoff milestones surfaced in recent weeks, players’ enthusiasm for a nostalgic club song from the Swedish pop star — and utterly singalong — stood out.
Or, more accurately, a Dutch DJ’s remix of a British singer’s cover of a Swedish pop star’s nostalgic club song.
Swedish star, Robin, first wrote and performed the hit, “Dancing on My Own”, in April 2010. Callum Scott sang it in 2015 for his audition on the reality show, “Britain’s Got Talent”. Dutch DJ, Tiesto then added his own beats for a version adopted by the Sox.
How “Dancing on My Own” became the team anthem of the Red Sox’s 2021 season—which now includes a meeting with the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series—is largely due to catcher Kevin Plewicki’s enthusiasm for the repeat button on his speaker. The story is there, but the story has its roots in baseball’s 2020 pandemic restart.
When the Red Sox met again in July 2020 for a postponed start to the season, many players were away from their families. Four opted to stay together: Plewecki and three now former teammates, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland and Kevin Pilar. Benintendi introduced the song to Plewecki, who immediately loved it and began playing it nonstop in the house, to the apparent shrine of Moreland.
“Moreland hated it — a ‘he said he hated it but really loved it’ type of deal,” Plavecki said. As a joke before an intrasquad scrimmage, the catcher decided, “I’m going to make this my walk-up song for Mitch,” playing first base for the opposing team. Plewicki made his first at-bat home and sang to Moreland as he rounded the bases. At that point, Plavecki was hooked.
“Its beat, its flow, puts you in a good mood,” said Plavecki, who describes himself more as a “vibe man”, while acknowledging that the song – about a former lover as a new flame. Regarding a club watching along – “makes absolutely no sense” to baseball.
Last season, Plewecki let his wife and brother choose their walk-up songs, but that home run convinced them to keep “Dancing on My Own” on the plate as their accompaniment for the tours. At first, it was a way to have fun without the fans at the ballpark in a terrible season, but then Plewicki had the best offensive season of his career. Plavecki scored .341 runs in 82 at-bats, backing Christian Vazquez during the 60-game schedule.
Since 30-year-old Plavecki carries his speaker with him everywhere, “Dancing on My Own” is now performed regularly before and after games.
“We play it all the time — just, pretty much,” Plavecki said, using a regal “we” and adding a profane descriptor to emphasize the increasing amount of play. “We just overdo it.”
When infielder Christian Arroyo joined the Red Sox for the final leg of the 2020 season, he was assigned a luxury suit similar to Plaveki to use as a makeshift changing room due to Covid protocols. Arroyo liked the song, even though he estimated, Plavecki played it 75 times in two weeks. Arroyo eventually asked his partner, “Kev, are you overplaying this?” Plewecki replied, “No, this song is wonderful.”
It’s become a running gag this season—a Red Soxian recoil—where Plaveki will ask his teammates, “Hey boys, have you heard this new song?”
“And then we’ll set it on fire, and everyone goes crazy,” Arroyo said during Wednesday’s workout, no joke, adding that “Dancing on My Own” played over Fenway Park’s speakers and infielder Jose Iglesias played his Raised the bat and danced near the batting cage.
“It’s become a bit of a joke now, but deep down, everybody thinks it’s a little catchy,” said infielder Travis Shaw.
“Ever since Kevin started playing that song in the clubhouse, on the bus, everywhere, it became our theme song,” reliever Hirokazu Sawamura said through his interpreter. “It’s part of who we are now.”
After the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to close their AL Division series on Monday night, a portion of their frenzied, sod-soaked rendition of “Dancing on My Own” was broadcast on MLB Network and social media. But it spread. Robin tweeted That scene was “bonkers” and, when a fan asked if Callum Scott and Tiesto could perform it if the Red Sox win the World Series, Scott wrote, “in a heartbeat.” (As of Thursday, Tiesto had not weighed in on its availability.)
Even though the song is such a critically acclaimed hit that it ranks number 20 on Rolling Stone’s 2021 edition of the 500 Greatest Songs of the Year, “Dancing on My Own” is the Red Sox’s most unexpected update of 21st-century Sonic. Catalog, which includes mainstays such as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”, played by Fenway Park in the middle of the eighth inning, and The Standels’ “Dirty Water”, which is played after every win.
There have also been season-specific songs. The 2004 team adopted Anniman’s “Lose Yourself” during their World Series title run; Dropkick Murphys wrote “Tessy” in the same season and then performed “Shipping Up to Boston” for the 2007 title team. In 2013, outfielder Shane Victorino’s walk-up song, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, always inspired the crowd to continue singing after the music stopped.
To be sure, Plewecki isn’t just a one-hit wonder—he’s also credited as the primary inventor of the team’s dugout ritual, which is a high-five receiving line through the living being in a laundry cart. Pushes a hitter – even though his musical selection is still limited.
“I’m proud of him, because when the season started, he had a playlist of about five songs,” said center fielder Kike Hernandez. “It was painful because it was the same five songs over and over. We started giving him a hard time, and he kept coming up with more songs.”
As the Red Sox took the bus from Baltimore to Washington between their last two seasons of the season, the Giants asked the rookies to stand in front and sing karaoke. The breakout star was Sawamura, who belted out a fabled cover of Alicia Keys’ “If I’ve Got You.” Sawamura’s English may be limited, but according to Hernandez, “he knows every word of some of Alicia Keys’ songs; Sawamura has a talent that not many people have yet discovered.”
Sawamura said he has been a fan of English-language music over the years, from Oasis and Keys to Ed Sheeran. “I have a huge collection that I can sing to,” he said. (Asked to review his bus-riding performance, Sawamura laughed, “I think I got the most excitement from the fans on the bus. I caught it.”)
But when all the rookies have taken their turn, Plewecki goes ahead and cites “Dancing on My Own”.
“I sang it on the mic for all the boys,” he said.