An elite set of songs — like Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What” — have become so known as sports anthems that they’re almost divorced from the original context in which they were released. To take off in a sports setting, plenty of factors must align — not just the fundamentals of what makes a song appealing to the masses, but also hard work behind the scenes and a little luck. But if sports teams, TV networks and of course fanbases get behind them, these tracks get massive boosts.
The songs below are some of the current standouts blasting in stadiums around the country — and likely to do so for a long time.
Key Glock, “Let’s Go”
“The infectious beat and earworm chorus make it a lock — either for pro athletes’ stadium walkouts or intramural athletes getting ready to put up a very solid five points at the YMCA rec league, like myself,” EMPIRE’s Harrison Golding says.
Jelly Roll, “Need a Favor”
CAA’s Dave Aussenberg calls the country-rock hit “the most under-the-radar anthem for all sports fans. As the clock winds down and the team is down to its last play, this is the soundtrack. It was all I could think about during the recent, incredible College Football Playoff semifinal games.”
Thanks in large part to the Texas Rangers — both fans in the stands who sang along to it karaoke-style and players who belted it in the locker room post-World Series win — the rock band’s grandiose 1999 hit is experiencing a resurgence “equal parts hilarious and awesome,” Def Jam’s Gabe Tesoriero says. “The memes re-creating [Creed’s] iconic, bizarre Thanksgiving halftime performance” from 2001 “ruled my timeline [this year].”
Sheck Wes, “Mo Bamba”
“That is becoming a ‘Seven Nation Army,’ ” Interscope’s David Nieman says. “It’s a third-down stop song; it gets the people going. We took Sheck when that song first came out to St. John’s [University] to do Midnight Madness for the basketball team, and in that moment, I realized how big of a stadium anthem that was going to be when the kids were singing back along with it, the way it sounded and the bravado of it all.”
Saweetie & P-Lo, “Do It For The Bay”
Warner Records worked with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers on this anthem for the football team’s playoff run by Bay Area natives Saweetie and P-Lo, which lined up with the team’s “Do It For The Bay” marketing campaign — and the song quickly took off, impacting Rhythmic Airplay and Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and becoming a rallying cry for the team’s fans. “When you have an artist that has a personal tie to a sports organization and is genuinely excited to get in the studio and write a song for them, you end up with something unique and authentic that the fans and community will support,” says Warner’s vp of brand partnerships and ad sync Rob Santini. “Saweetie’s grandfather won a Super Bowl for the 49ers and her uncle is currently a coach on the team, so there was a real connection there.”
Fast Life Yungstaz, “Swag Surfin’ ”
The Atlanta hip-hop trio’s 2009 track gained popularity at historically Black college and university parties, became an anthem for teams like the Chicago Bears and the Washington Mystics and is now in the spotlight thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs. “Since I’ve been here, it has been a huge fourth-quarter, big-time moment, big-time drive in the game for our defense” hype song, the team’s Travis Kelce said on the New Heights podcast in January. Its signature wave-like dance can “make the stadium feel like chaos.” As a widely circulated game clip showed, even Taylor Swift and Kelce’s mother got in on it recently.
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