Lackey scores praise for UK basketball song parody

Apr. 26—Two things Pulaski Countians are passionate about are their local music scene and Kentucky sports. This week, those two things connected on a slam dunk for one local talent.

Chris Lackey, who recently released the EP "Blow Me Away" — recorded right here in Pulaski County at Mill Springs Studios, and available on Spotify and other streaming platforms — got a chance for a big blue audience Wednesday when the nationally-recognized Kentucky Sports Radio program aired a Wildcat-themed parody by the local singer-songwriter

Kentucky Sports Radio, or KSR, reaches a nationwide audience via radio broadcast and podcast with daily shows that focus on a variety of subjects of interest around the commonwealth — but sports, and University of Kentucky athletics, in particular. Perhaps no topic has been quite as discussed in the last few weeks for UK fans than the recent hiring of former Wildcat big man Mark Pope as the new head mens basketball coach.

Lackey was one of those with Pope on the brain last Sunday night and decided to deal with it as only a singer-songwriter can — by writing a tune. To do so, he took an assist from the work of country singer Jason Aldean.

"I was listening to 'Dirt Road Anthem' and when I heard the first line, 'I've been chillin on a dirt road,' the words 'chillin' out with Mark Pope' popped in my head and I just ran with it," said Lackey.

"I knew a lot of UK fans were excited about him and remembered watching him play as a kid, so I figured it would be fun to write," he added. "I love wordplay and writing lyrics, whether it's for an original song or making a parody."

That's evidenced in his original song "Taco Bout It," released as a single in 2023, a unique break-up tune with a distinct flavor Tex-Mex flavor. Produced by Tony Armstrong, the song has been Lackey's most widely heard — perhaps until now — with over 4,200 listens on Spotify and a particular appeal to kids, Lackey noted.

"I used to mainly just write and practice at home and had been a little nervous to go for it, but playing with my band Statelaw has really helped me get past the nerves and get comfortable putting myself and my songs out there," said Lackey. "... My biggest passion has always been writing and developing these songs the way I hear them in my head when they come to me, so I spend a lot more time working on that than playing live at the moment."

He added, "I'm constantly writing and coming up with new ideas and would love to produce and share this content for a living, but for the longest time I've been afraid to really put myself out there and go for it. My band, starting to pray again, and my wife have all been the driving factors in getting me over that fear and helping me believe in myself."

Lackey was less familiar with Pope than perhaps a standard Mexican restaurant's menu, and had to do a little research before fleshing out his ode to the new UK coach.

"I looked up a few articles on him and read that he was captain of the 1996 championship team and a second-round draft pick for the (Indiana) Pacers," said Lackey. " I knew (former Kentucky coach Rick) Pitino coached in '96 and I could use that since I was looking for words with 'O' sounds that sounded similar to the words of the original song."

Lackey also checked in with his brother Cam, whom Lackey called "an expert" on all things Kentucky basketball, to get more minute details right; "I was tickled to rhyme Brennan Canada with Collin Chandler," he said, referencing a recent walk-on with the team and Pope's first recruit, respectively.

The song, which Lackey titled "Mark Pope Anthem," took about 20 minutes to write. It helped that Lackey knew "Dirt Road Anthem" by heart, having covered it for years. He spent a longer time practicing the lyrics because he recorded it, and struggled to keep from laughing while he was doing so.

But perhaps the most important play Lackey made — on words, that is — was in referencing Matt Jones, well-known as KSR's creator and host, and the word "radio" at the end instead of repeating the chorus as he'd originally planned, since Lackey's family are fans of Jones' show.

"My man Matt Jones was glad to get him; shouting out to Matt Jones, Kentucky Sports Radio," sings Lackey near the end of the song.

The song, recorded Monday in Lackey's own office studio, was posted on the "Chris Lackey Music" Facebook page on Tuesday — and on Wednesday, the song was being played on none other than Kentucky Sports Radio itself.

"It got shared quite a few times after I posted it to Facebook," said Lackey. "I think my dad tried to send it to Matt Jones at KSR, but from what I can tell it mainly got shared through the Pope's Cats Facebook group and that's the main place it seemed to get traction."

Jones listened to the song along with fellow KSR personalities Drew Franklin, Shannon "The Dude" Grigsby and Ryan Lemond. Franklin and Lemond both said that they were expecting not to like the song, but were won over by it. Grigsby said Lackey featured a "good voice, clever lyrics (and) good guitar-playing." He added that he doesn't normally liked parodies but enjoyed this one more than most.

Jones would have preferred it without the reference directed at him as he felt that was an attempt to "suck up," but enjoyed the detail about Pope being drafted by the Pacers and felt the tune was "solid" overall and better than the average fan-produced song.

"The experience was surreal," said Lackey. "I'd hoped fans would like the song, but I was amazed and honored at how much it was getting shared and how quickly it made it to the air. I was so so surprised and excited it felt like I was floating for a minute. I couldn't believe that it got played, let alone that they all actually liked it!

"From what I've heard, the guys on KSR are notoriously hard to impress, but every one of them had some really nice and positive things to say about the performance," he added. "It made me feel like the efforts I've been putting into my music and making content are focused in the right place, and I just need to keep sharing what I make and am passionate about. It gave me confidence in my work and meant the world to me. Feels like I'm finally doing what I'm supposed to be doing."

The song was played again on Thursday by KSR, with Grigsby continuing to make positive comments, and the group giving the song an "8 out of 10" rating — "near 'Weird' Al level," said Grigsby, referring to parody song icon "Weird" Al Yankovic.

A full version of the song to publish to all streaming platforms will soon be made available, said Lackey, along with another song parody called "The Way I Toss," based off Morgan Wallen's "The Way I Talk." Lackey said he has four new songs in the works that he's working on self-producing as well.

Lackey isn't sure how much the exposure might help his musical career, but having his name on KSR couldn't hurt as he continues to build a social media presence, under @thelackster on Facebook, Tik Tok and Instagram. The video has already been seen close to 770 times on YouTube as of Friday afternoon, on the "Chris Lackey Music" channel.

"If nothing else, this just encourages me to keep looking for new places to play and keep putting myself out there," he said. "... I was really, really thankful for all of the support from everyone that shared it and for the opportunity to be heard."