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9 Most Iconic Songs from the World of Sports (Audio)
While there are a few exceptions (“One Shining Moment” at the end of CBS’ NCAA tourney coverage comes to mind), most of the songs we equate with sports are the soundtracks to the arenas and stadiums where we go to see live events. While variety isn’t exactly the name of the game when it comes to music at sporting events, the few songs that do make the cut have essentially become known as a sports soundtrack. If you go to a major league sporting event, you WILL hear three of the songs on the list. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these songs have been so hardwired into the brains of sports fans that even the first bar of “We Will Rock You” will make a sports fan drool…or at least stand up and scream.
1. Gary Glitter – “Rock and Roll, Part 2”
Everyone know this little ditty as the “Hey” song, which makes for quintessential arena rock, if only because there are no lyrics and a fiercely catchy beat that even the most mentally-challenged sports fan can run with.
What makes the phenomenon of this song so bizarre is that the song’s writer performer, Gary Glitter, has been once convicted of child pornography and convicted of two counts of a sex with a minor…in Thailand. So don’t get too into the song.
2. Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”
While this a New York-centric song, it warrants inclusion because it seems like the type of song that was crafted specifically with arenas in mind. The quickness with which it has become a staple at NYC sporting events (and others, even) leads me to believe that this was a pretty calculated move by Jay-Z. I’m guessing that he knew any song he wrote where the chorus is “Neeeeeewwwwwwwww Yooooooooooorrrrrrkkk” probably was going to get some airplay in MSG. Further, this was the song they played every time they cut to commercial during the 10 hours of NFL draft coverage on ESPN, permanently searing this song into my brain.
3. Blur – “Song 2”
The “Woo-hoo” song. I’m pretty sure it’s a federal law that this song has to be played during TV timeouts if your basketball team is involved in a close game in the Fourth quarter. If the arena announcer doesn’t play it, I’m confident he will get fined or jailed or executed or something.
This songs inclusion also proves the point that a band doesn’t need to be the Black Eyed Peas or Van Halen to get a song in the lexicon of the sporting world. Sometimes, it can be a one minute, fifty-nine second punk song that gets people to stand up and yell “Woo hoo!”.
4. Black Eyed Peas – “Let’s Get It Started”
Playing this song is essentially like telling the crowd or audience, “Hey. We think you should be excited about this, in case you didn’t know.” Sometimes, it’s warranted, like during the tip-off of a basketball game or Super Bowl coverage. But when the VS Network starts rocking this song during the NHL Supplementary Draft, I’m sorry guys, I’m not getting it started. No matter what Fergie, Will.I.Am, and that weirdo Taboo tell me to do.
The original song was called “Let’s Get Retarded,” again showing the foresight a band and production team can have when they want their hit to reach the widest album possible. They should play the original “Let’s Get Retarded” at tractor pulls simply for the ironic value.
5. Village People – “YMCA”
Speaking of irony, here’s a song that shouldn’t be played in a family environment ANYWHERE, but it always is just because it has a catchy chorus and little kids can’t screw up making little letters with their arms. It’s possible that some sports fans think they’re being discussed when the song opens up with “Young men!.” They’re not. You’re not the young men the Village People are looking for. Well, 90% of you aren’t.
And you wanna know why it’s fun to stay at the YMCA? Anonymous gay sex. Think about that the next time you see a ten year-old girl at the American Airlines center with her hands outstretched over her head.
6. Survivor – “Eye of The Tiger”
Also known as “the one reason the guys from Survivor live with a roof over their heads,” this song became ubiquitous after its appearance in Rocky III, which cemented its status an inspirational rock-out that would remain relevant for years to come.
Fun fact: This song was commissioned by Stallone for Rocky II after he couldn’t get the rights to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” which, in hindsight, would seem horribly awkward in a Rocky movie. I can’t see Sly punching meat carcasses and hauling lumber while Freddy Mercury raps, “Steve walks warily down the street with his brim pulled way down low,” but if anyone could have made it work, Rocky could have.
7. Queen – “We Will Rock You”
Speaking of Queen, here we go. While this song has SLIGHTLY more lyrics than “Rock and Roll, Part 2,” it’s no surprise that this one caught on and is perhaps the song most associated with sports, even over 30 years later. Elegant in its simplicity, this song is most satisfying and effective when sitting on the aluminum risers at a basketball or hockey game to get the most hollow stomping sound possible for the first two beats of the measure.
Because there is no message in the song other than the threat of “being rocked,” this song can be played at any time during the game. And lord knows it is.
8. Dropkick Murphys – “Shipping Up to Boston”
Another newbie that has caught on with its infectious mandolin line and conveyed drama, this song is of course a Boston staple, but has moved far beyond new England into arenas nationwide and even Visa commercials. Much like Jay-Z, these guys have cornered the market on anthems for their hometown sports teams. In light of the Boston-NY rivalry, it will be interesting to see which one demonstrates more staying power.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, this song is about a sailor that lost his wooden leg and is going back to Boston to find it. Again, not important.
9. Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”
This last song is a little different than the rest, because the psychedelic guitar droning throughout seems designed to get the crowd in a cannibalistic frenzy prior to tip-off/face-off/whatever. Also, Ozzy’s voice makes some people (me) want to try to eat their own face. Consequently, this song is strangely effective in getting people on board with their team and fired up. It’s strangely ineffective at getting people to eat each other and rip their seats out of the ground. Maybe on dollar angel dust night…