Jock Jams: Defining The Soundtrack For Sports The original CD promised ''The Greatest Crowd-Rockin' Sports Anthems of All Time," and it delivered. More than a decade later, the compilations are still blasting from stadium speakers to accompany everything from strikeouts to slam-dunks.
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Jock Jams: Defining The Soundtrack For Sports

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Jock Jams: Defining The Soundtrack For Sports

Jock Jams: Defining The Soundtrack For Sports

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DEBORAH AMOS, Host:

The Los Angels Lakers are facing the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association finals. It's a classic matchup. The 12th series these two teams have played to determine the NBA championship. Now, Nate Dimeo reports on the history of another classic matchup with the Lakers - the pop songs that have made up stadium playlists for nearly two decades.

NATE DIMEO: As the person in charge of choosing the music played during Lakers games, she's the inheritor of a great tradition of bold innovation.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

LISA ESTRADA: "Hit the Road Jack" when people foul out - we started that years ago. I think we might have even started that at the Forum.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DIMEO: So many classics.

ESTRADA: Steam (Band): (Singing) Na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NA NA HEY HEY (KISS HIM GOODBYE)")

DIMEO: So you can thank the Lakers and other pioneers whose names are now sadly lost to history for first discovering that songs like "We Will Rock You" make natural pairings with fade-away jumpers and entrances from the bullpen. But you can thank corporate synergy for the fact that you still hear them.

SHARYN TAYMOR: We were looking for ways to expand the ESPN brand.

DIMEO: Sharyn Taymor worked for ESPN back in the mid-'90s, when the company was making its first forays beyond TV. Taymor was its point person for an out-of- left-field collaboration with the hip-hop and dance record label, Tommy Boy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TAYMOR: An anthem music album called "Jock Rock."

DIMEO: "Jock Rock" pulled together the classic rock songs that were being played at a few influential venues. Soon, the album was in the CD player at just about every coliseum and veterans memorial auditorium in the country.

TAYMOR: My brother and I went to the Super Bowl that the Patriots first won, and we're both huge Patriots fans. And after every touchdown, they would play that song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK AND ROLL (PART TWO)")

TAYMOR: It just made me so happy - having that little bit of influence on our team.

DIMEO: Its cover promised, The Greatest Crowd-Rockin Sports Anthems of All Time, and it delivered. So ESPN and Tommy Boy had to find new anthems.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK AND ROLL (PART TWO)")

TAYMOR: The "Jock Jams" album took a different turn with more contemporary music.

DIMEO: Each CD collected high-energy dance songs that had nothing whatsoever to do with sports until ESPN and Tommy Boy said they did. And this both delights and perplexes a man named Phil Wilde, the Belgian DJ who co-wrote three songs that became jock jams.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PHIL WILDE: People are saying every big NBA sports games and everything, it's always played. Is that true?

DIMEO: Wilde says he knows it's true. He sees his royalty statements every month. But he's surprised that songs that used to be the soundtrack to nights twirling glow sticks at discotheques in Ibiza and Marseilles are now the go-to tracks when a Milwaukee Brewer strikes out the side.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WILDE: (Singing) It's a classic. And it still is after 50 years.

DIMEO: Wilde is quick to point out that the dance sounds that he helped pioneer have made a comeback in recent pop hits "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha and "I've Got a Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas. And that may not be a coincidence. Both of those songs sound like they were engineered from the ground up to get played at sports arenas for the next 15 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIK TOK")

TAYMOR: For NPR News, I'm Nate Dimeo.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AMOS: This is NPR News.

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