‘Chiefs Kingdom Comin’ is the surprise football banger of the Super Bowl run
So. There’s this song. If you’re KC based, you’ve almost assuredly heard it. If you haven’t … Hello. Welcome to a bizarre situation.
Local band Yes You Are recorded a track called ‘Chiefs Kingdom Comin’ which is a rally-cry for our sports team to win the Super Bowl, but also dunks upon anyone whomst would doubt our inevitable victory. Everything about the intent is a delight, but most of my friends had an initial reaction of cringe upon hearing it. It’s either overly sincere or almost cloying in how it seems to be aware of leaning into trying to profit off a local sports anthem. Upon first listen, it feels like an odd joke.
There is, at least for locals, a transitive property here. The second or third play of the song absolutely eviscerates any of those criticisms. I’ve personally gone through that transformation as well, so I can testify to it. It is an alt-rock song with a female vocalist that goes from feeling like a nonsense corporate trick into an absolute earworm almost immediately.
Here is the music video for the song. Chiefs Kingdom Comin’:
I consider myself a curmudgeonly dick regarding music. Yet. I’ve spent two weeks wandering around my house while my wife and I absentmindedly mumble lines from this to each other, because we genuinely love it.
So with the Chiefs headed to the Super Bowl, I sat down with the lead singer of the band to ask about what the hell happened here, and the entire interview just blew my mind. Especially discovering that the lead singer was a part of an emo-adjacent Omaha band that I loved since high school.
Yeah. I’m shocked too. I’m so thrilled I dug into this.
This is our interview with Kianna Alarid of KC’s own Yes You Are.
So first things first, just wanted to let you know: I’m such a huge Tilly and the Wall fan. I feel like I’ve been putting you on mixtapes since 2002.
Kianna Alarid: What?! That’s amazing.
When I looked up who was responsible for putting together this Chief’s fan song, I was like, “You’ve gotta be kidding me. Her?” What kind of journey you go on, from being in a small scale band like that to writing football anthems.
Alarid: Right? Like, I was raised in a baseball house, and my parents were and are big Cubs fans. I didn’t get it. I don’t get the support, so I didn’t join them with that love. It wasn’t until I moved here that we had a professional home team.
In Omaha, there was football and I caught a game, I’d be like, “This is fun, but I don’t really follow it.” Not having a professional sports team in the city,
I will say that when I moved to KC, it made a big difference. I started to watch football and started to realize that it was a pretty big thing between me and my parents. So I definitely caught the bug when I moved to Kansas City for the Chiefs and the Royals.
As far as that song goes, my husband Jared and I were the two songwriters there. Before it was the playoffs last year, his mom was like, “You should write a Chiefs song!” We rolled our eyes at it.
I love that this started with one of those parent suggestions that you spend too long reacting, “Okay guys, I get it.”
Alarid: Seriously, we would just roll our eyes at her, like, “That’s not what we do. We’re artists.” But for some reason, we had this track that we recorded in LA, and it was obviously not our band. But we also do licensed music, and we were like, “This song would be great for a sports thing.”
We kind of put it into that file, and we never thought it would sell. We put it on the back burner, and then last year we were like “Oh my gosh.” Within a day, we had written the whole song, the next morning we recorded it, and that night we recorded a video and stayed up all night making a highlight reel for this video. I gotta say, I never had a turnaround like that. It was really invigorating to realize how much we could do when we put our minds to it.
I can’t even imagine mastering a track in a day or mixing levels. And you’re shooting the video on Day Two.
Alarid: It was Day One! It infected our entire lives, and two days later it was out on YouTube. It was awesome. It all came really fast, and Jared was just a madman that day. Usually, if we’re writing a song and he’s working on the lyrics, I’m working on whatever else. We collaborate. On this, he did it, and I’m just watching him work. I couldn’t believe it. It was so perfect, just beaming out of him. So I just let him work.
You’ve sort of hit it on the head with the fact that you do licensed songs that absolutely don’t feel like your current band. Do you feel like this is such a departure that people will fall in love with it and look up your band and be like, “This is… not that.”
Alarid: We have a couple of shows coming up before the Super Bowl. I was saying, you know, if they win the Super Bowl, people might want to hear that. Jacob, one of our other band members, and I are not concerned with that kind of stuff. I get where Jared is coming from too, but I’m very multi-dimensional. I’m very serious about my work. I also love the Chiefs song. I just want to have fun, you know?
You’re like, “I’ve spent a good deal of my life making capital-a Art, so it’s okay to have fun as well sometimes.”
Alarid: Exactly. Obviously, with Tilly and the Wall, all we did was have fun. But we also made art, and I feel like you don’t have to be one or the other. I don’t have to be an indie artist or a rabid sports fan. I think it’s part of who we are.
I think that’s what makes the song so fascinating to me. It’s worth mentioning that the first time we heard this song, my wife and I were in the car and we were having a fight. So I was distracted and the song was playing in the background. The next day, she was like, “Do you remember that song where the verses were just listing off players from the Chiefs?” I was like, “That never happened.” We tracked down the song, and now it’s a thing that we walk around the house, just absent-mindedly singing to ourselves. When did this burrow into our brains? Now we go out to the Chiefs games at local sports bars and we’re disappointed when the digital jukebox doesn’t have it. So we try to plug our phones in so that people at the bar can hear it.
Alarid: You know what? It’s on there, as of today.
That was going to be my next question. Thank god. Finally.
Alarid: Yeah, it’s live on Spotify, Apple Music, everywhere. So the problem was that we didn’t want to monetize on the song for any reason. We didn’t want anyone to think– we’re just legitimate Chiefs dorks. So we made the video, we put it out for free, we don’t want to monetize on YouTube, but we also can’t because the footage is under NFL copyright. That made sense. Our distributor was like, “Let’s just take out the NFL announcer.” No, it’s not for you, it’s for the people asking for it! So now it’s available for streaming.
It gets into what you were saying about being an indie artist and also to be an unabashed Chiefs fan. For some reason, indie music can’t like sports. You’re either into indie music or sports, you can’t exist between the two. So when rapper Tech N9ne does a song about the Chiefs, no one questions it. There’s a legitimacy about that because he’s in the rap world. But in the indie rock world, it’s like, “Who is this band that likes football? That crosses the streams.” And then you have a song that not only is a rock anthem but has several different kinds of breakdowns in it– including that mega-mix of radio announcer stuff. Every time I hear it, I recognize that there are four different kinds of songs within it. Which again… makes it such a bizarre outlier for a local radio hit.
Alarid: [Laughter] Yes. Even you describing that indie musicians don’t do blank blank blank, isn’t that just crazy? Such a construct. It’s such a cultural lie, and I hate that it kept me– like, I see myself back when I didn’t know anything about it. But your life gets affected by a group of people who are so determined to do something. They each have these different characters, and you get to know them, and it feels like they’re doing it for your city. You just care about them. It was like, “Wow, I’m not the only person that feels this way,” and millions of people feel this way. It just creates this energy, I think it’s amazing. There are friends I do have, who have realized that you don’t have to be this one way, you know? That goes across the board in life. That’s what I mean by me being a multi-dimensional person. It’s taken a lifetime to figure out (that) I don’t have to do anything like anyone else does, or be any way that anyone thinks I should be. I just don’t ride that train anymore, at all. It’s very freeing. I love getting up and– Jacob and I are like, “We’re playing the Chiefs song!” and everybody else is like, “Oh no!” But we’re doing it, y’all. Try and have fun.
You’ve also had a song that was featured in a Pepsi ad at a previous Super Bowl. What is it about your current band that connects to football audiences in a way that, say, tap-dancing sad ballads don’t?
Alarid: You know what’s weird? Tilly and the Wall had Super Bowl commercial too. I guess I’m the only factor in both things, but we had a song called “Heavy Mood” in the T-Mobile football commercial. It was slick, with cool vignettes of people dancing.
Good on T-Mobile. They’ve also used Niko Vega and the like. Who at T-Mobile’s ad agency has really good taste?
Alarid: I think they’re getting really hip. Their supervisors are basically looking for something new, but their stuff sounds really fresh. I think that that’s one reason our licensing firm has gotten a ton of placements, and the owner wrote about us during an interview with Forbes Magazine. I was reading it and he was asked, “What are some of your biggest spots?” He talked about The Black Keys, which is huge, and then he said, “Then there’s this band Yes You Are, they land everything.” Then he goes to talk about how I was in Tilly which was great.
I know one thing is the female voice is very in-demand, for lack of a better word. When people are writing in Nashville, they put you in “rooms” which means you get thrown into a studio with total strangers– for licensing, which means you go out and write songs for pitches– we wrote a country song, because we were with two Hall of Fame-winning country songwriters. It was like, “This is so fun, what a cool challenge.” It’s a husband and wife duo, and her voice is to die for. We get this whole thing written and it’s this awesome song, and she’s like, “Okay, now go get ready to sing.” I was like, me?! She has this perfect country voice and I’m like, no. She was like, “Listen. They want to hear your voice, trust me.” I was trying to compute what she means, and I think that there’s something about– I don’t know what it is about my voice, but it works for football people.
When you inevitably record an anthem for the Royals, what’s the song title going to be, and who from the Saddle Creek family do you want to come guest with you?
Alarid: [Laughter] Oh my gosh, that’s a great question. Well, the thing is that this one jelled together because all of the energy was happening at once, so you have something to really grab. No diss on the Royals, but they’re kind of re-configuring and it’s kind of hard to grasp something. But in 2014, if we had big ones then leading up to 2015, then maybe “Keep the Line Movin’?” It could’ve been a line dance. It could’ve been a country song.
Has anyone from the Chiefs organization reached out to you? Will you be playing a victory parade?
Alarid: No, but so many people want that! Somebody said that they played our song at the last game, but so many people have said that they hope they play it at the stadium. We haven’t been contacted by anybody, and I really want to get the song to their attention so that they can use it because so many people know about it now. If you read our YouTube comments, people were asking when it would be available on Spotify and if we were going to play it at the Superbowl. I’m like, “That’s not really our choice, but I’d love to.” They really want the song to play at the stadium. Someone today was like, “You got to get this on Madden.”
The final question is going to be the hard-hitting journalism and there’s no way out of this one: who’s your favorite player on the team?
Alarid: Patrick [Mahomes]– it’s hard to not pick him. He’s so good, obviously, but he’s kind of baffling people. They don’t know how to not say that he’s the best they’ve ever seen. His personality on top of it; he’s so humble and deflects credit out to his team. That being said, I also love Frank Clark because he has been crazy since this playoff run and confident. Lots of expletives involved.
You can download the song for free here.
Follow the band on Twitter here.