For the most part, a fan’s enjoyment of a sporting event is visual. We see the start and end of a perfect Chris Paul to Blake Griffin alley oop; we watch amazed at how Patrick Kane dangles the puck on a breakaway just before putting it in the back of the net, and we sit back and watch Sebastian Giovinco make a soccer ball dance in midair while changing direction and going bar down from a free kick.
As visual as sports are however, the other senses do get their fair share of usage. A baseball game really isn’t a baseball game if you don’t taste the ultimate hot dog and beer combination. Nor is attending an F1 race proper without filling your lungs with the smell of petrol and you feel your chest thudder as cars zoom past you in excess of 250 km/hour.
Then there are the sounds. A hit in hockey is nothing until you hear someone getting crunched along the boards. Also, there is nothing as sweet sounding as the mesh on a basketball rim as Steph Curry, once again, hits nothing but net. The cheering and chanting (or singing if you are at a soccer game) all make for an amazing atmosphere and an unforgettable experience. Music also plays a big part at sporting events and is used either before, during or after a game to help generate a buzz through the crowd.
This may be one of the longest introductions to a Fringe Friday post, but I am trying to set the proper stage here (pun intended) as we look at songs that helped promote a team. We are not looking for songs just about sports or to be “put in cold”, like John Fogerty’s Centerfield; we are looking at songs specifically created for a sports team. This is what we call Fringe Friday – the Songs of Sport edition.
We shall start on this journey with a local classic to help us “Canadians” understand the finer points of baseball, that great American pastime. Created in 1983, OK, Blue Jays was a campy, little tune to not only help the fans with the seventh inning stretch, but also to help fans get into a cheerful mood. Clearly it works as you can’t help but smile as you sing along.
From there we have a couple of soccer tunes. There is nothing more important, specially for an Englishman, to play football for club and country. So we start off with one of the most popular club songs called Come on You Reds for Manchester United, created in 1994 by the team and the band Status Quo. This track actually made it to Number One on the UK singles charts and proves that the country is mad for soccer… like really, really mad for it.
The next song was for the England national team. There have been several songs made for them throughout the years including Three Lions and Shout for example, but this one was created for the 1990 World Cup in Italy by the unlikeliest of groups, New Order. I say unlikeliest because the band New Order rose from the ashes of Joy Division, one of my favourite bands and yet, one of the most depressing (lyrically and musically) bands found anywhere in the world. It would be strange that a group with ties like that would try to write an “uplifting” soccer anthem. But they succeeded in being able to infuse dance music with stadium chanting in a way no one had done prior. They also managed to turn the word England into a three syllable word, and there is nothing wrong with that. I can’t tell you how much I now love to chant En-ger-land every chance I get. This also reached number one in the charts despite the video being quite… well… special.
Finally, now that we have reached the end of this short list, it’s time to put the kids to bed and have that adults only moment. This is nothing vulgar or sexual but it is intense. I am talking Liam “I will find you and I will kill you” Neeson intense. So, yeah, we had our little fun with Ok, Blue Jays and it was nice to feel a little proud of the Reds or our World in Motion, but sometimes… sometimes, music is used to instill fear into an opponent. Now there may not be any music that is going on, but this is the song for the New Zealand All Blacks and the players perform the Haka before every game and it really is quite the spectacle. It is done with the utmost of patience, precision and purpose. The particular one below I believe was done after their coach had passed away.
Yup, I am not afraid to admit that this intimidates me immensely.
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