Songwriters enjoy success of Yao songPosted: Tuesday December 31, 2002 4:07 PM
Updated: Tuesday December 31, 2002 5:12 PM
HOUSTON (AP) -- Chance McClain and Kevin Ryan accomplished three things with their Yao Ming song: It's simple, has a peppy beat and it's easy to dunk to.
Houston Rockets fans, whether they like it or not, have been singing the incredibly uncomplicated yet infectious chorus to themselves for weeks: "Yao Ming, Yao Ming-Yao Ming-Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming," to the tune of the soccer-fan anthem "Ole, Ole, Ole."
The song, crafted before the 2.29-meter (7-foot-6) Yao had even signed this autumn, is getting into people's heads, especially now that Yao has blossomed into an NBA star just two months after the Chinese center's arrival in this country.
"Subconsciously I found myself singing it at home," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "I find myself wailing through the house, `Yao Ming, Yao Ming-Yao Ming-Yao Ming."'
Lyricist McClain and musician Ryan, who grew up together in the Houston area and reunited as friends in 1999 after losing touch for most of the decade, soon resumed their song-making hobby with a tongue-and-cheek homage to former Rockets reserve forward Matt Bullard called "Air Bull."
"We knocked it out in one night," said McClain, an affable real estate appraiser. "One of the Rockets guys heard it on (a KILT-AM sports talk show) and asked if we could use it. Bullard would hit a 3-pointer and they'd play `Air Bull' and people would sing along. It was hilarious, because he's such an obscure player."
McClain and Ryan, a graphic artist, began churning out more tunes, usually lighthearted looks at the Houston sports scene, with subject matter ranging from Rockets guard Moochie Norris' ever-changing hairstyles to flamboyant former Houston Astros pitcher Jose Lima.
McClain tried to get the Houston Texans to bite on their version of a fight song, but the team chooses to promote one performed by country star and Houston-area native Clay Walker.
The Yao Ming song, titled "It's a Ming Thing," has turned out to be their big hit.
"When I wrote the Yao Ming song, I was driving on (Interstate Loop) 610 and found out Stevie drew the ball," McClain said, referring to Rockets guard Steve Francis drawing the lottery ball for the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, which guaranteed the team could draft Yao.
"It was the first time I didn't have a six-pack and jot something down," said McClain, 30, whose duo is called Pull Tab. "I actually wrote it out."
The songs have led to several local commercial jingles and a record deal, with the first CD due out Jan. 7. It's called "Greatest Hit," a nod to the Yao Ming song that's getting airplay from Houston to Shanghai and points in between.
"We're kind of poking fun at ourselves with our title. We know most people will be buying the album for that song," said Ryan, the more reserved of the duo. "We have no idea all the places it's being played. It's just kind of gotten passed around the world."
The song was available for free on the Internet but now that there's commercial demand, only a snippet can be downloaded legally. Yao says he likes the song, though he blushed when told it's playing in his home country of China now.
"The Rockets games air in China when it's morning there," McClain said. "They call it 'Breakfast with Yao,' and our song is played before each game."
The duo produces new songs ceaselessly, including themes for radio shows of Texans stars Aaron Glenn and Steve McKinney and even an ode to new Astros second baseman Jeff Kent and his macho mustache.
McClain and Ryan, who sing and play instruments mixed with some synthesizer, say they have no grand expectations for their suddenly percolating musical careers, saying they understand the quick success could fade.
"We know we're the 'Macarena,'" McClain admits.
He also recognizes that many professional musicians struggle mightily before getting a nibble, yet he and Ryan quickly got an independent record deal and have a song that won immediate radio airplay and nightly exposure at Compaq Center whenever Yao makes a play.
"In eighth grade, I wrote out three goals in life: to be in a hit movie, have a hit song and a perfect wife, family and the picket fence thing," McClain said. "Well, I was an extra in 'Pearl Harbor,' I've got this song, and I've got the perfect family.
"I would have set loftier goals if I knew I was going to hit them by age 30."