PHOENIX – Playlists are difficult to build. A shared one, that must accommodate a whole group of people with different tastes and interests, is even more challenging. But that’s the burden resting on the Mercury’s Alanna Smith.
“I don’t think anybody knew that I had a good selection of music. … Somebody’s got to do it,” said Smith, the power forward from Australia. “So it fell to me.”
Smith’s playlist varies from day to day, consisting of a wide range of artists. From Megan Thee Stallion to Dua Lipa, from Rihanna to Pop Smoke, from Lil Wayne to Lauryn Hill, this playlist has something for everyone.
“(Alanna) has the fixes, she has a variety of music,” Shey Peddy, a guard from Massachusetts, said.
Although Smith never asked for this role, she has certainly embraced her duty. While the team personnel handles the music during practice, it is Smith’s playlist that brings everyone together before the game in the locker room.
And like any ritual that has proven successful, Phoenix players plan to keep spinning the same tunes as the end of the regular season nears and the WNBA playoffs approach. The Mercury, with a 19-11 record, play in Seattle Friday night before closing out the season at home on Sunday against the Aces.
“I’d say it’s pretty important enough to get you hyped and get in the mood to go out there and give 110%,” Smith said of music’s role, adding, “You want to play something upbeat. Something that people know the words to as well.
“You get people singing along, everybody’s singing along, it’s a lot of camaraderie and everything.”
The wild range of emotions allows for players to fluidly zone in and out, and match their presence of mind. With a locker room as diverse as the Mercury’s, that flexibility is key to getting everyone in the zone.
“I listen to whatever song I like at that moment,” said Kia Nurse, a guard from Canada. “And if it’s fast, if it’s slow, if it’s Disney, it’s just some random stuff. Like whatever vibe I’m feeling that day.”
Recently, the hip-hop artist of choice has been Drake, with his recently released album “Certified Lover Boy” getting some love from Bria Hartley. Since returning to the court after her lengthy recovery from last year’s ACL tear, the new album has been on repeat for the guard out of New York, although one track in particular stands above the rest.
“‘Pipe Down’ is my favorite one,” Hartley said.
Music’s motivational power can be seen every day with the Mercury. But it feels especially poignant after a win. One song in particular is played in the locker room after every victory, one song everyone enjoys and celebrates together.
“That’s just like, our little tradition,” Peddy said.
She can’t remember the name of it, but the tune still rings in her ear.
“Uhhh, it’s Spanish,” Peddy said, laughing as she began to hum and dance.
The song “Par-Tusa” by Argentinian artist El Dipy was introduced by Diana Taurasi while the team was in the WNBA’s bubble last year. As Sophia Cunningham remembers it, the players “just kept playing it over and over when we won,” as they ripped off a seven-game win streak soon after Taurasi shared it.
The team brought back the tradition this season, and the tune was on repeat during the Mercury’s recent 10-game win streak. While that streak came to an end last Saturday, the players are confident they can start the party again and ride that vibe deep into the playoffs.