Athlete, celebrity music playlists go 1-on-1

Matt Bonner and Gary Clark Jr. are the first celebs on Track Wars, the Bonner brothers' new site. Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner was recently in the market for a personal jukebox, and to fill his catalog of music, he sent out a mass email to his friends and family asking for their favorite 15 songs. Bonner wanted to make a personal playlist on the jukebox for everyone close to him.

But as the emails were exchanged and people began debating each other’s playlists, Matt’s younger brother, Luke Bonner, noticed that people were getting pretty heated in their arguments because “everyone wants to be a DJ.”

And that gave Luke an idea: Put famous people’s playlists up on a website for others to vote on to see whose playlist really is the best.

Thus was the beginning of Track Wars, a Tumblr site created by the Bonner brothers that will feature a one-on-one vote between the custom playlists of two athletes, musicians or celebrities every week. Each celebrity’s playlist will consist of five to 10 of their favorite songs ever, not necessarily the best songs ever.

“The whole idea of viewership and fandom has changed in this day and age; we want to know more about the people we’re watching,” said Luke, who played college basketball at UMass from 2006 to 2009 and then a couple of years overseas. “Like, I’m watching WWF and I wonder what the Undertaker is going to listen to on the way home.”

This week pits Matt Bonner’s playlist -- a diverse array of tracks ranging from classic songs by Bruce Springsteen and The Clash to the club-banging “Southern Hospitality” by Ludacris -- against musician Gary Clark Jr.’s playlist full of mostly soulful joints such as O.V. Wright’s “Ace of Spades” and Buddy Guy’s “Worried Mind.”

Through Friday, Matt Bonner had taken 64 percent of the vote.

“I went with the strategy of picking a lot of songs that people forget they loved,” said Matt, whose playlist featured only two songs released this century: “Rococo” by the omnipresent Arcade Fire and “Gimme a Beer” by the up-and-coming Diamond Rugs. “To narrow it down to your favorite 10 songs or so, it was almost impossible. I went back and forth a thousand times. That list changed 50 times before I submitted it.”

Just like a pickup basketball game, winner stays on. So assuming Matt holds onto the lead till the end of Sunday, he’ll take on a new celebrity challenger next week.

“A person’s playlist provides a lot of insight into a person’s musical taste and even personality,” Matt said. “I try to keep an open mind and listen to music for what it is. I’m not a music snob who won’t listen to a Kelly Clarkson or Miley Cyrus song. If it’s good, I’ll listen to it, regardless of genre.”

The Bonners’ basketball network helps get plenty of famous athletes involved in Track Wars, and they’re hoping to get enough interest for a 32- or 64-playlist bracket in the coming months.

Maybe they can even get the Undertaker involved.