The authoritative pre-game playlist
Where would we be without adrenaline?
We find it buried in the backseat of dusty, puberty-ridden school buses, or blaring on those trusted headphones that we’ve used since middle school. It reaches every corner of our sweaty locker rooms and, better yet, spilling into the arena lobbies with such volume that everyone knows we made it.
In short, we wouldn’t be anywhere without pre-game energy, and we wouldn’t be anyone without the music that soundtracks it.
As we evolve as athletes, so too do our pre-game playlists, chalk-full of timely classics and indie gems. As we attribute our soundtrack to memorable sports moments, the connections become irrevocable. Even after we retire, we are left with a group of songs that “get the people going” without fail.
When live sports and public gyms do return, you deserve a quintessential playlist, a spark for the adrenaline of a fresh season. The Observer Sports staff plans to give you exactly that with our compilation of walk-up songs and pre-game anthems that defined our sports careers:
Hayden Adams — Sports Editor
I could go the Dropkick Murphys route and go with “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” (too easy) or “The Boys Are Back in Town” (more of a season-opener, back-on-your-home-turf-after-the-offseason kind of vibe). AC/DC is a good choice, and I could always go for some more cowbell from “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” But instead, I think I’ll go with this one by The Hollies.
It’s a rock song that’s got it all (much like the titular figure). There’s a smooth guitar riff and a beat change that you can start jumping to. Plus the allure of a long cool woman in a black dress pretty much encapsulates how a sports junkie like me feels before a game. It’s just a bonus that hearing it brings up connotations of one of the greatest football movies ever, “Remember the Titans.”
Jimmy Ward — Associate Sports Editor
This threw me for a loop. As a rap fan there are plenty of songs that I turn to when I need a little extra push during a workout. The Lil Wayne lighter flick and inhale alone personally never fails to get me going. Kaynes ‘Heh!’ also does the same. Jay Z’s throat clear, Rick Ross’ ‘Huh’, Young Thug’s ‘Eh’ — those brief little ad libs can do it. That said, “Maybach Music 2,” “Forever,” “A Mili,” “Work REMIX,” Shabba REMIX,” “Champions” and many many more classics all could have found top spots on my list. But as of right now none does it better than this track off Jay Electronica’s new album, as the sample of “Get the Gat” underneath Jay Z’s vocals — in one word — slaps.
Liam Coolican — Sports Writer
It’s a classic for a reason, and I couldn’t pick anything else. It’s the perfect sports song; it is full of motivational lyrics and a track that is sure to get the whole team hyped up before a game. The song is about the long and tough road to success, and that is the perfect analogy for sports. The lyrics in the chorus are “I’m not afraid, To take a stand, Everybody, Come take my hand, We’ll walk this road together, through the storm.” To find success in sports, or in anything else in life, you’ll have to go through a storm at some point, and this song is perfect to get you through that.
David Kramer — Sports Writer
Allow me to reintroduce myself. Even before my career of long hockey bus rides and the countless baseball walk-ups in the plains of rural Minnesota, I ran into “PSA” during one of myriad weekends in my best friend’s basement. Almost eternally racing along his TV screen was arguably the greatest iteration of the NBA video game series, “2K13.” This game had it all: a ridiculously untouchable Kyle Korver outside the paint, a fluid Blacktop mode, vastly improved graphics and maybe best of all, an electric soundtrack executively produced by Young Hov. Jay-Z’s heavily understated and neglected “Black Album” gives sports fans and music fanatics alike one of the most ambitious anthems of personal pride in the modern rap era. Jigga flows through his lyricism with such ease that mere mortals on the court or inside the diamond unswervingly try to emulate. Not to mention, with Jay-Z finally on Spotify, he deserves a tip of the cap with his most adrenaline-inducing track on your pregame playlist.
Mannion McGinley — Sports Writer
This song, while not at all well known and highly underrated, is one of my favorites of all time. The number of times it has drowned out the guns and the running footsteps at a track meet is higher than I can count. I would sit next to the runway as the plunking of different notes built into a beat somewhat reminiscent of “Trashin the Camp” from Tarzan and yet with the intensity of the intro to “Crazy Train”.
It’s as simple as the title: “Don’t Play,” and especially, “Don’t Play” with me. I went to those meets with one goal, to come out better ranked than before. As I took my practice run-throughs, with that sentiment coursing through my mind and bouncing between my ears, I knew that I would.
Gregory McKenna — Sports Writer
I unapologetically chose “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” as my walk-up song throughout my uninspiring high-school baseball career, but I hope I can be a little more creative here. Enter my team’s nine-hitter during my sophomore year, who strutted to the batter’s box accompanied by Shane McMahon’s iconic intro song from the WWE blaring from two speakers attached to the backstop. He never missed an opportunity to take a big hack in sync with the lyrics “Dollar Dollar, Dollar Dollar, Ching ching, bling bling, cut the chatter,” often after being given the sign to bunt. Most infields never stood a chance.
Nate Moller — Sports Writer
After this hit was released in 2017, I would listen to it before every cross country or track race that I had. If you are a distance runner, this is the perfect song. In the intro it has lyrics such as “I was born to run, I was born for this” and it gives an analogy to being a racehorse. The song then builds into the chorus, which is perfect to get into a pre-race mindset. The lyrics talk about adrenaline flowing through your veins and breaking through the chains. Whenever the gun went off in a cross country race, I would have this song circulating through my head and it never failed to get me fired up when I needed it.
Aidan Thomas – Sports Writer
Ask me this question last year or this year, and my answer might change. I distinctly remember bus rides to freshman year baseball games, blasting “My House” by Flo Rida in my earbuds, or going through my pregame keeper routine with “Hall of Fame” getting me amped up for game time. There’s so many options, but “Jump Around” has always been a reliable option for me. The attention-grabbing musical intro is perfect for a walk-up, and then there’s my personal favorite part of the lyrics: “If you come to battle, bring a shotgun. But if you do, you’re a fool, cuz I duel to the death”. Nodding my head to the catchy refrain and beat while taking in the lyrics, this song never fails to get me going. An added benefit is its inclusion in one of my all-time favorite sports movies – “The Rookie”. That’s a highly underrated classic, but it’s also a discussion for another day.