Music enhances almost any form of entertainment, and sports are no exception. Many times, music helps to shape how we think of our favorite sport. It can also allow us to feel more emotion when watching these events on television.
Nathaniel Harrison, Marketing Manager for the United States Tennis Association’s Middle States Section (USTA Middle States) in Valley Forge, Pa., often finds himself making connections between his favorite sports and athletes, and the songs that represent them.
“Players in Major League Baseball have their own personally chosen song that plays just before they come up to bat,” informs Harrison during a recent telephone interview. “These songs become a brand for the players and even though you may not be watching the game intently you can tell who is coming up to the plate by their signature song. You may not remember the artist or may not even know the song, but can relate it to the sport and the player.”
According to Harrison, “Songs are often partnered with a sport, or the outcome of an event, and though that was not the intention of the song’s artist, it can make the sport appeal to a new audience.”
So what are the ten most powerful songs that automatically make you think of sports? Here is a guide of the biggest, and the best, along with YouTube links so you can listen to them over and over…
10. Star Spangled Banner – Francis Scott Key
What could be more American than placing your favorite ball cap over your heart and singing along to our National Anthem? This song not only pumps up many athletes and fans alike before the big game, it also reminds us of the adversity our forefathers faced to found our spirited nation. Many athletes and entertainers have touched us with their renditions of this signature sports anthem. Though you may not always hear it when watching on TV, it is a must-sing before anyone can begin to “Play Ball!”
9. Take Me Out to the Ballgame – Albert Von Tilzer
Fathers have been teaching their sons to sing this song for generations. Legendary Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray, who sang it proudly during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field, famously kicked it up a notch. Since his passing in 1998, many celebrities such as Adam Sandler, Eddie Vedder and Mike Ditka have sung this nostalgic anthem in his place at Wrigley Field. It’s a timeless classic that will be around for as long as baseball exists.
8. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
White Stripe’s intense Alternative Rock ballad has become a staple in Sport’s Music history. You may never hear it on the TV or even played on the speakers at the stadium, but you can hear the marching band playing it at almost any college sporting event. Try watching a Penn State football game without hearing it’s addicting, provocative tone which pumps up the home team, as if to tell the visitors: “We’re coming for you.”
7. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – Steam
Steam was a short-lived band that was created for the sole purpose of marketing this song. Though the band did not find much success in the business, the song has gone on to become one of the most used songs in the Sports industry. Marching bands have played it on the field for decades, and you can hear it at virtually any sporting event when someone is taken out of the game, fouls out or strikes out. It was reintroduced into popular culture with the release of Disney’s Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington.
6. Are You Ready for Some Football? – Hank Williams Jr.
Perhaps the most rewritten sports song of all time, Williams’ 1984 original “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” has been the theme song of the NFL every Monday Night since 1989. For the majority of the last 20 years, this song has pumped up eager football fans watching from home. Over time, the words have been changed to accommodate the present hosts and different formats, but Hank has always been there for “Monday Night Football” to ask that infamous question.
5. Heavy Action – Johnny Pearson
Not many television shows have gotten away with two theme songs, but the intensity of the NFL’s “Monday Night Football” defies the rules with this powerful marching band piece. The drums rule in this song, as the intense beats make this a great tune to dance to.
4. Chariots of Fire – Vangelis
Greek composer, Vangelis, composed this beautiful theme for the British 80’s movie about the Olympics and overcoming prejudice. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Original Music Score. Since then, this song has been the go-to anthem for slow motion sports montages, and is still considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces ever written.
3. Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti
As soon as you hear the powerful horn section of this classic theme song from the famous “Rocky” movies, you may feel the urge to run up a mountain and jump up and down when you reach the top. This song is often used in sports montages and parodies, and perfectly expresses the feeling of being “almost there”. Used in every Rocky film, there are several versions of this song in existence.
2. We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions – Queen
These songs are absolutely timeless, and you cannot have one without the other. Though Freddy Mercury has been long passed on, most school age children can sing right along when the infamous beats of We Will Rock You begin: “Boom, Boom, Clap!” It fires you up when you are in the stands, because you can hear everyone in the stadium stomping their feet twice, then clapping on queue. When this song is followed by We Are the Champions, it is easy to get teary eyed as a sports fan. Nothing is more American than celebrating victory.
1. Bugler’s Dream and Olympic Fanfare – John Williams & Boston Pops Orchestra
Few songs ever composed have been this big. The amazing sounds of this orchestral piece instantly conjure up the image of greatness. Every two years, during the Winter & Summer Olympics, this anthem unites the world, makes us cry, and allows us to feel that if we work hard enough at something, anything is possible. Because of the huge scale of sound this work of art achieves, it is easily the most powerful sports anthem of all time.
Nat Harrison, Marketing Manager USTA Middle States