The Best Pregame Pump-Up Songs of All Time
Whether you're ready for a game, about to lift weights or just in need of a mental boost, music is always there to provide assistance.
Especially in today's world, the relationship between music and sports is undeniable, and the past several decades have featured a steady rise in that connection. For some athletes, music is a non-negotiable part of their routine.
And, usually, there's a specific song.
The possibilities here are practically endless. Plus, there is inherent subjectivity involved—my music preferences dictate my thinking. As best as possible, though, I've removed my personal tastes from the discussion and considered the collective thought.
NSFW warning: Several songs included contain explicit lyrics.
10. Metallica: 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'
You hear the bells, and you know—in the words of esteemed scholar Kevin Hart—it's about to go down.
While the song itself is a commentary on the complexity of war, its instrumentals provide the motivation. The bells continue to ring in the background of that unmistakable 1980s rock sound.
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" climbed as high as No. 18 on the Billboard Top 100 Hot Rock Songs in March 2019.
9. Fort Minor: 'Remember the Name'
While it's reasonable to say the song is overused, the message within "Remember the Name" is the primary appeal.
In an athletic environment, skill is only part of the equation. Mental toughness and determination are imperative, and a little luck never hurts. But the grind—the work in the offseason, behind closed doors and when the spotlight is off—is how superstars are made.
And we remember their names.
8. Bill Conti: 'Gonna Fly Now'
"Gonna Fly Now" is the background to one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history.
In the 1976 film Rocky, this Bill Conti song plays during the montage of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) completing his morning training. The scene famously ends with Rocky raising his arms on the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
While it's not necessarily a go-to song anymore, the Billboard-topping hit earned a place for its popularity in earlier decades.
7. Survivor: 'Eye of the Tiger'
Written as the theme song for the 1982 film Rocky III, "Eye of the Tiger" fits the classic definition of an inspirational song.
The refrain is the backbone of the song's encouragement: "It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight/ Risin' up to the challenge of our rival/ And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night/ And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger."
Today, it's a staple on your local high school's pregame playlist.
6. Jorge Quintero: '300 Violin Orchestra'
If you're a frequent visitor to sporting events, odds are strong "300 Violin Orchestra" has played in the background while starting lineups are announced or in the final moments before the game's first action.
Among many other examples, mixed martial artist Vitor Belfort used the instrumental as his entrance song. The 2018 Detroit Tigers used "300 Violin Orchestra" for introductions on Opening Day, as did the NHL for its 2011 All-Star Game.
Not every pump-up song needs lyrics.
5. Eminem: 'Lose Yourself'
All you need is the introduction to understand why "Lose Yourself" has become a popular song.
The track begins with Eminem saying, "Look/ If you had/ One shot/ Or one opportunity/ To seize everything you ever wanted/ In one moment/ Would you capture it/ Or just let it slip?"
Tireless effort and preparation is necessary. Still, becoming a superstar also demands excellence under the brightest lights. And in sports, there are no do-overs. Think of all the football players who reached the Super Bowl as young contributors but never returned.
You might only have one shot or one opportunity at greatness.
4. Kanye West: 'POWER'
Following the stage-crashing controversy at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards, Kanye West decided he was done with music. That didn't last, of course, and he returned in style.
West released "POWER" in 2010, and it quickly found a secondary role in the advertising world. Fittingly, trailers for The Social Network and Limitless, for example, used the track. You know, it's dangerous when one man has all that power.
As it relates to sports, the combination of the beat and vocal harmonies made a lasting impact in the world of pregame songs.
3. Roy Jones Jr.: 'Can't Be Touched'
As the saying goes, most musicians want to be athletes, and most athletes want to be musicians.
Roy Jones Jr. has the coveted distinction of being a success in both arenas.
One of the greatest boxers of all time, Jones released his first album in 2002 and a second in 2004. The latter includes "Can't Be Touched," a song with an easily identifiable beat and a refrain that speaks to the unshakable nature an athlete needs.
"Can't be touched/ Can't be stopped/ Can't be moved/ Can't be rocked/ Can't be shook."
2. Queen: 'We Will Rock You'
Good song? Up to you. Legendary? No question.
Stomp, stomp, clap. Stomp, stomp, clap.
"We Will Rock You" is perhaps the most elementary pump-up song because every age can be included. Everyone can handle that rhythm, and it's fair to suggest a strong majority of fans will never forget it.
Oh, and bonus points to those who actually know the first three phrases of the verse before "gonna be a big man someday."
1. Eminem: 'Till I Collapse'
Eminem launches at his industry in "'Till I Collapse," vowing not to allow any obstacles to stop him. That never-say-die attitude has resonated with athletes for nearly two decades.
Nate Dogg is the voice behind the well-known refrain, and the beat—rather similar to the one used in "We Will Rock You"—contributes to its widespread appeal.
However, the lyrics also speak to Eminem's desire to be authentic and his indifference toward not receiving the respect he felt he deserved.
Sure sounds like the professional athletes who wear a chip on their shoulder for, well, ever, right?