Monday, February 10, 2014

Six of The Best Sports Songs! (Contains Actual Sports!)

With the Winter Olympics in full swing (Sochi 2014), across the entire internet, you can find long lists of so-called 'Sports Songs' or anthems that are either fan-favourites or songs that are popular for being played in stadiums in order to get the crowd cheering and hyped-up.
  The Unfortunate thing about most of these lists is that many of the songs on these lists often were written with no intention of being a so-called sports anthem. If you include every song that 'gets people pumped-up for the game' then Ozzy Ozbourne/Randy Rhoads early 1980s song 'Crazy Train' becomes a sports-anthem and appears on most lists. The song Crazy Train has plenty to get excited about, but I'm not so sure the crowd really wants their team to go 'off the rails'.  And while the opening guitar riff of 'Welcome To the Jungle' is a great way to get people excited, the song itself is about a small-town boy's first visit to a crime-ridden large city, which might remind the spectators to keep to the more well-lighted areas while walking through the stadium parking lot on the way to their car or the bus station after the game.
     'We're Not Gonna Take it.' by Twisted Sister appears on several lists of favourite sports-songs, and the sentiment might seem to be applicable to many different situations. But let's be honest...when it comes to sports, the reality is that the fans already paid their money before the game starts, so the truth is... you are going to take it whether you like it or not.    So now that we've done our complaining about what many lists consider to be sports songs, we can start suggesting something that a sports songs should contain: Like maybe... something about sports! You'd think that was obvious, but in 1983 Huey Lewis & The News put out an album titled: 'SPORTS' which contained 9 songs, none of which had anything to do with any particular sport. The album sold upwards of 7 million copies, but other than telling everyone where the heart of rock and roll is, there still isn't anything to do with sports on the album.

 Center-Field: John Fogerty's dedication to Baseball is an obvious choice and one of the better songs written about the U.S. sport of summer.
  The song pays careful tribute to the old greats of the game Shoeless Joe, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio. At the same time mentioning the classic baseball poem 'Casey at the Bat'.
  But despite the mention of great ball players, the best songs about a sport are usually those about people who play just for fun, and this song maintains that as well.

The Hockey Song: Written by Canadian Country Legend Stompin' Tom Connors in the early seventies for the simple reason that he thought there should be a song about hockey. The Hockey Song is still probably the best song written about the sport so far. The words capture both the speed and spirit of the game as well as alluding to the history and culture of the sport.
   When kids play street hockey, they play with their imagination as much as with sticks and pucks. Sometimes they wear the sweaters and numbers of their hockey heroes and favourite teams, but in street hockey, every game is the last game of the playoffs, and they're always "playing for the Stanley Cup"
  Playing to this childlike spirit, The Hockey song cleverly starts with the words: "Hello out there. We're on the air." as if a hockey broadcast is starting and the announcer is speaking to the spectators and fans. The motif is maintained throughout the song. 

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner: Despite their British roots, Iron Maiden didn't choose to write a song about soccer or cricket. Instead they devoted a song to the less-glamorized sport of long-distance running.
   One of the lesser known songs (but tribute-band favourite) on the acclaimed Somewhere in Time album is The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, believed to be inspired by the movie of the same name.
  The lyrics seem written more like a poem, but the music definitely gives the impression that a race is going on, containing great dual-guitar melodies as well as the familiar gallop rhythm and power chords expected from an Iron Maiden tune.

 Bicycle Race: Of course, most people would think that if a Queen song about sports were to be included in any list of sports songs, it would and should be either 'We are the Champions' or 'We Will Rock You' or both.These two songs from the 'News of the World' album have, for obvious reasons, been adapted to sports stadiums to enhance audience participation (stamping feet, clapping hands and singing along), but the problem with We Will Rock You and We are the Champions is that these two songs don't state what game is being played or even if they are talking about sports at all.
However, there is one song by Queen that indelibly states aloud what sport they are most enamored with and that's the song Bicycle Race.  Queen's tribute to the bicycle is indicative of their capability and craft in writing a song. Using classically-inspired arpeggios as well as the sound of bicycle bells themselves to lend atmosphere to the song. It doesn't hurt that they made a video that contains plenty of nudity to give praise to the sport they chose to sing of.

Basketball Jones:
In the early 1970s and in between puffs, Cheech and Chong wrote a song dedicated to their own invented character: Tyrone Shoelaces, a man with an addiction to basketball.
   As we listen to the song, Tyrone tells his story in falsetto vocals. He explains how he was always dribbling, even before he had a basketball.
  The song features George Harrison on guitar and Billy Preston on Hammond Organ, 
And when you hear the backup singers (The Cheerleaders, including Darlene Love and Ronnie Spector) begin, you may find yourself also addicted to basketball, and perhaps the occasional spliff as well.

Ponta Da Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma):
Jorge Ben and his band wrote what is possibly the best sports song ever. Unfortunately those of us who don't speak Portuguese may not have realized it for years, or perhaps we just assumed it was Brazil's favourite party song when we heard it during the World Cup tournaments.
 Although the title means: "Tip of the African Spear", the song is one hundred percent soccer (futbol in Portuguese), with lyrics that literally translate to familiar sports-expressions like 'play ball', 'look for the opening' and 'make the pass'. It doesn't hurt that the song is danceable and has a great opening guitar riff.