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Let the Music Play

A soundtrack is a perfect complement to a tough workout. If that strikes a chord with you, there is a logical reason why. According to Scientific American, research shows that music can keep you exercising longer. Whether by keeping you distracted, quickening your speed to keep up with the tempo, or motivating you with a musician’s strong emotions, music rocks your body. 

According to Psychology today, listening to some uptown funk while exerting energy can delay fatigue, increase physical capacity, improve energy efficiency, and influence mood. Professor Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University concurs. He told The Guardian that performance can be enhanced up to 15% when listening to your favorite tunes. “music lowers the perception of effort. It dulls or masks some of the pain of training. We know from scanning the brain that when athletes are played loud, upbeat music there is an increase in activity in the ascending reticular activating system.” Translation? That lights up the part of the brain that is in charge of paying attention, achieving your goals, and staying alive. In addition, when you’re rocking out the brain also releases chemical opioids, which act like musical morphine. These can work like organic painkillers and even enhance your mood. Music can even soothe the savage beast, i.e. your immune system, according to a study at Massachusetts General Hospital. Their study found that certain songs and sonatas helped relax sick patients and lowered their stress hormone levels. 

If this isn’t already music to your ears, then there is evidence that some block rockin’ beats will keep you coming back for more. According to a NY Times article about exercise, a study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences looked at 20 healthy volunteers who were new to interval training. Some were led through a grueling workout without music and some were able to listen to their favorite songs. The group that worked out to a rocking playlist were more apt to keep coming back and continue working out.

 There are some songs that are classic motivators and are constantly used to get people to move to. So whether your Juke Box Hero is delivered via a set of wireless headphones, an old school boom box, or a stadium-style Marshall stack of speakers, here is a list of some of the most popular anthems for athletes and fans alike:

We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions by Queen – A classic arena stomp slash taunt, this Queen duo somehow became an anthem for jocks everywhere which would certainly bewilder Freddie Mercury if he were alive today. 

Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor – If you are doing a training sesh with a set of stairs which is intercut with a round of hitting the bags, you can’t ignore this omnipresent song. Adrian! 

Basketball by Kurtis Blow -  He likes the way they dribble up and down the court. Not only is it an ode to hoops, but he name checks Bill Russell and gives props to Wilt Chamberlain’s prowess. No wonder this is a popular gym jam. 

Super Bowl Shuffle by the Chicago Bears football team – possibly the most awkward shuffle and canned rap ever recorded, it was still a mainstream hit that was released after the Bears won Super Bowl XX, beating the New England Patriots. They can revel in having a hit song, but their rap prowess may have cursed them. They have yet to make it back to the Super Bowl and the Patriots have since won five SB rings. 

Don’t Stop Believing by Journey – This song is a sing-along full of hopes and dreams when your team is way behind in the game – basically a sports version of Sisyphus. It also is one of the most commonly heard songs at a karaoke bar during last call. 

Jump Around by House Of Pain - That squealing horn in the beginning to the song is like a siren signifying the beginning of complete mayhem. A staple of Irish parades and long time-outs during games, this rap has a bouncing beat that asks you to jump up towards the ceiling, if you got the feeling. 

Lose Yourself by Eminem -  This is the song for every athlete trying to psyche themselves up ever. It is for underdogs trying to prove themselves. It is for the little guy trying to make good. You get one shot. Try not to vomit on your sweater. 

Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne – This is Ozzy’s first single about going off the rails. Normally athletes are a disciplined bunch but this is for that extra oomph or power and brawn when you have to show your opponent what you are made of. Good for bursting onto the field, or showing your game face. Maybe with a growl or something.

Chariots of Fire by Vangelis – This title song from the movie became a number one hit and is somewhat of a theme for runners and Olympic athletes. However, if you really listen to it, it is soooo slow. Like slo-mo. In fact, it seems like the slowest song ever about fast runners. It is a nice tribute though.

I’m Shipping Up to Boston by The Dropkick Murphys – A rousing Celtic punk song with Woody Guthrie lyrics that seems to inspire hooligans, drinkers, and sports fans. It became an anthem for the Boston Red Sox during their 2013 World Series win, as well as dozens of baseball player’s walk-up songs. Not to mention, it is the theme song of the Boston gangster film, The Departed. Wicked.

Rock And Roll All Night by Kiss – This is classic stadium fare. “Scary” glam rockers Kiss were made to piss off parents but this song was created to get the stadium rocking, whether it be a sold-out tour or a stadium filled with sports fans waiting for a game to continue. Athletes want to rock all night and party every day too, just as long as they win.

Welcome To The Jungle by Guns And Roses – If you want to push through your workout and go harder, or you want to make sure the other team knows you mean business, break out the GnR. Axl and co will get you over the hump. When you bring in your relief pitcher or your kicker for the game-winning points, or you are about to win the gold…this is what you play. Welcome to the jungle, baby. You’re gonna die.

You Shook Me All Night Long by AC DC – This classic rock mega-hit is a hard rock anthem staple that talks about a fast machine. It is hard, driving and goes at a good clip. So, if you’re into that kind of workout, then this is your jam.

Sabotage by Beastie Boys – The crowd likes it when their team is a spoiler and this song is a good way to get everyone cheering and razzing the visiting team that is about to be overtaken. Plus, the Beastie Boys are fun, run to run to, and wear fake mustaches in the video. Any questions?

Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic – Whether you are pumping iron or the crowd is getting pumped up, this song will get your booty on the floor tonight. A hip-hop house song that has withstood the test of time since 1990 and still is a crowd pleaser today. Like Clint Eastwood says, make my day.

Living On a Prayer by Bon Jovi –  This karaoke power song may start off explaining about Johnny’s job working on the docks, but it diverts into a milestone marker for everyone who is halfway done with their challenge. For the religious, this song is meant to keep hope alive. For those who are willing to persevere with grit and determination, this is a fun song by a guy who single-handedly kept the hairspray industry going for years.

It Takes Two by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock - One of the most popular songs used by arenas for the past few decades. Some argue it may be the greatest hip-hop single ever. Usually played when the camera scans the stadium to settle on fans who are busting moves in between plays. For those who want to rock right now.

Mony, Mony by Billy Idol – A timeout energy rouser. Not sure how Generation X punk Billy Idol’s music became a fun way to get fans happy at the park, but this one is an iconic energizer. People clap along to it to it like it’s a musical red bull. “I said Yeah, Yeah.”

Song 2 by Blur – This song is a shot of adrenaline. Short and sweet and loud and buzzy with a guitar riff to pogo to. Not much in the lyric department - to most, it is an unintelligible jumble ending in ‘heavy metal’ and a “who hoo” hook. But it is fast for those who want to up their speed and frenetic for those who want to slam dance. Perfection.

Shout by The Isley Brothers – Ever since Animal House, this classic song has been about keeping the party going. A classic used in stadiums gets people dancing and lying on the floor to shake or scream just a little bit louder now, it is participation heavy and jangly fun.

Whoomp, There it is by Tag Team – Not to be confused with the song Whoot, There It Is, this hit has been on best of lists and worst of lists, but if you aren’t polarizing you aren’t getting noticed. This song just makes you want to snap someone with a towel. Or sink a basket. Either one would be satisfying. “Chackalacka chacalacka chacka boom!”

Turn Down For What by DJ Snake & Lil Jon – When the stadium says “Let’s Make Some Noise”, it is a pretty simple request. They want you to fire up that loud. If you need some assistance, well you are in luck. For anyone who has ever been told their music is too loud, this one is for you.