As I sit editing articles on Bleacher Report, my ears begin to wiggle a bit as the guitar of Jimi Hendrix engulfs them—and for a moment—I forget what I'm even doing.
Pictures of running out to a football field, or slowly walking to home plate staring at the pitcher as if to say, "I'm going to hit you. You know it and I know it, so you better throw the ball then get the hell out of the way," begin to run through my mind with "Voodoo Chile" in the background.
It is a mixture of the two greatest things in the world: sport and music. Both drive us to do things we never thought we could.
Why am I dancing like this? Why won't my head stop moving? How did I just hit that ball over the fence? How did I just knock that guy out cold?
We don't think, we just react. While partaking in sport or music, is one of the few times in life we do not over-think, we do not over-analyze, we just do. When you put these two animals together, you get the perfect fit.
It is the reason teams huddle before a game, rock back and forth, and chant. They get into a rhythm that only song can bring to prepare to go to battle. Music is their war cry.
The most interesting part of the sport and music psyche is the music used to prepare for sport is mostly of a genre we would never listen to in any other situation.
Headbangers will listen to techno to keep their pace on the treadmill. Hip-hop dancers will listen to "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica while lifting. The entire world loves to hear the "Summer Overture" by Clint Mansell put to their favorite team's highlights.
This is the greatness of music. You never know when a song will be perfect for your situation.
Here is a list (in no particular order) of songs that fit perfectly with sport.
1. The Head Bangers
These are the songs that are loud, but universally crowd-pleasing. A nice mixture of the old and the new. Beware of walls while listening to these for they may get punched or headbutted.
Jimi Hendrix—Voodoo Chile
Too smooth to not be on this list. There is something about that intro guitar work that gives you an extra push. If a song were to play in the background while I kicked down a door, it would be this.
Honorable Hendrix Mention—Machine Gun, Highway Chile
Extremely cliche, but I do not believe there is a song out there that can get a crowd crazier than "Thunderstruck." You know you used this song when putting together a power point of your high school team's highlights, you nerd.
You wouldn't believe what this sounds like before Game 163 of the baseball season.
Honorable AC/DC Mention—Hells Bells (Trevor Hoffman), For Those About To Rock
Metallica—For Whom the Bell Tolls
It tolls for thee. Find me a bass (yes, that is bass) that sounds like an electric guitar as in the beginning of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and I'll pay you a dollar.
Honorable Metallica Mention—Harvester of Sorrow (Paul Konerko), Enter Sandman (Mariano Rivera)
Led Zeppelin—When the Levee Breaks
Can't beat Jimmy Page using a slide on the guitar. If I were to walk in slow motion, this would be my background song.
Honorable Led Zeppelin Mention—Immigrant Song (live)
Black Sabbath—War Pigs
Notice, heavy metal bands, metal can actually have talented guitar work and decipherable lyrics.
Honorable Black Sabbath Mention—Paranoid, Iron Man, Crazy Train
Kings of Leon—Four Kicks
Known for their easy listening, Kings of Leon punches you right in the face with this nice southern diddy. You are allowed to punch the person closest to you while listening.
Pearl Jam—Even Flow
It must be this version of the song, however, because the recorded version is a bit too slow for the headbanger list. This was the pre-writing-awful-acoustic-songs-about-everything-stupid-and-stereotypical-regarding-the-Cubs Eddie Vedder. It's intense, but with a smooth rhythm and solo.
Honorable Pearl Jam Mention—Go, Animal, Do the Evolution
Fast rhythm, slower but good chorus, and awesome bridge. It's simple math.
Fast, loud, effective.
Honorable Soundgarden Mention—Spoonman, Mailman
Alice in Chains—Man in the Box
The perfect rhythm to walk to the plate to.
Honorable Alice in Chains Mention—Them Bones, Again
The White Stripes—Icky Thump
Jack White yelling, lots of bass drum, and lyrics about immigrants. Perfect.
Honorable White Stripes Mention—Seven Nation Army, Cannon, Black Math, Expecting
System of a Down—Chop Suey
This may be a little too loud for those with sensitive ears, but deal with it, the other team is probably sacrificing an animal (at least think like that, so you feel justified listening to System of a Down).
Honorable System of a Down Mention—Aerials, Sugar
Foo Fighters—My Hero
I was about to click "publish" when this song came on my iTunes, so that has to be a sign.
Honorable Foo Fighters Mention—All My Life, Monkey Wrench, Let it Die
Rage Against the Machine—Killing in the Name
You know it.
Rage Against the Machine Honorable Mention—Bulls on Parade, Guerrilla Radio
2. Smooth Rap
These are the rap songs that are not screaming at you, but rather, with a head-bobbing beat and some lyrics, preparing you.
Kanye West—Jesus Walks
The self-proclaimed genius helps any human gain confidence with "Jesus Walks". The slow, marine-style beat can't help but force focus. This was before Kanye began letting machines do his vocal work for him.
Honorable Kanye Mention—Stronger
50 Cent—Patiently Waiting
A nice easy beat with extremely fierce words said in the smoothest of ways.
Julez Santana—Second Coming
Fell upon this song while researching for this article. The song has a beat that would make anything you do while listening to it seem important.
3. Loud Rap
This is the rap that is screaming at you when you may need someone to yell at you.
Saul Williams—List of Demands
This one is a bit far-fetched, but I love it because of Nike's "My Better is Better than Your Better" commercial. You have to love the intensity.
Archie Eversole—We Ready
Never thought I would go from Led Zeppelin to Archie Eversole in the same list, but here we are. The refrain of this rap song is impossible not to enjoy before competition.
Eminem—Til I Collapse
He is a very angry man and if that's what you want to be before a game, here is your song.
Honorable Eminem Mention—Lose Yourself, Run Rabbit Run
Nas—You Can Hate Me Now
Lots of yelling from Puff Daddy with Nas lyrics. Genius.
Honorable Nas Mention—Hip Hop is Dead
Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy—Victory
Title says it all.
Honorable Puff Daddy Mention—Come With Me
4. The Techno Songs
You will never admit to having these songs on your iPod as seen by the fact you sprint to change it when these songs come on at a party. In no other time is it justifiable to listen to these songs.
A nice mixture of blues and techno from Moby to get your blood pumping. Most people mistakenly call this song "Bring Sally Up".
Fatboy Slim—Right Here, Right Now
Another one of those songs that you don't recognize, but i guarantee you've heard. The build up of the first minute is extremely intense then if you're looking for another gear, listen to the next minute.
Not really techno, but I was not sure where to put this song. Just listening to it will make you feel like running.
5. The Instrumental
Some times no words are needed. A violin or piano can say it perfectly.
Clint Mansell—Summer Overture
Made famous by the movie Requiem for a Dream, which one can't help but shudder when thinking about, this dramatic piece will make you run an extra five miles.
I watch this Chicago Bears clip before every game. It is physically impossible not to get pumped up after watching that, unless of course you're one of the players whose ankles were broken by Devin Hester or an Arizona Cardinals fan.
Honorable Clint Mansell Mention—Dead Reckoning
Slower than one would think for a song meant for sports, but nothing can be more intense than a well-played piano. This song was used in this Lance Armstrong commercial perfectly.
Explosions in the Sky—First Breath After Coma
They did the entire soundtrack for Friday Night Lights for a reason.
Honorable Explosions in the Sky Mention—The Only Moment We Were Alone
Piano solo used in the NBA "Where Amazing Happens" commercials.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go running or tackle someone...NOW!
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