I was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather Sunday when AC/DC’s “Thunderstuck” started playing on the iPhone.
In just three or four notes I was taken back to a specific time in my life; when I was dressed in my school’s jersey and shooting layups prior to the start of our game.
“Thunderstuck” was the song to warm up to back then, and even though it came out in 1990, it’s high-energy theme pumped us up and got us ready for whoever we played that night. The song is still used today, which is why it goes down as one of the all-time greatest warm-up tunes.
And it’ll be hard to top.
You see, the point of a good warm-up song is to amp up the players and fans so, come tip-off, everyone is energetic, yet focused on the task at hand. With an overwhelming amount of younger generations filling the stands, it’s no wonder why the warm-up song has gone from rock legends to the latest hip-hop hit.
For most people reading this, the switch is driving you crazy. You sit in the stands wondering what the heck “these kids” listen to nowadays, and how Flo Rida has anything to do with preparing for a basketball game. In some cases, I’m with you, but we have to remember these songs are for the players, and as much as we hate some of today’s music, it’s what they listen to.
Which is why two recent artists showed brilliance by creating a song that can be blasted thoughout high school gyms and fields across America. I always wondered what the world did before “The Hey Song” came out, and in a few years, I might be wondering the same about DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” and Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.”
A lot of people have heard both tunes, but for those who haven’t, the first song title pretty much sums up the message of it, while the second one is about pride. “Black and Yellow” focuses on the rapper’s hometown of Pittsburgh and how every professional sports team in the city dons the same colored jersey. It’s a great concept when you think about it, and if you go to a school like East Hall, there’s no better song to come out to.
I thought about this a couple of weeks ago when the Vikings (24-5), who host Manchester on Wednesday in the second round of the Class AA playoffs, came out to “Black and Yellow.”
I realized how genius it is to create a song that is not only good, but one that can relate to what most kids pride themselves on the most: their school colors.
It doesn’t take the biggest fan of hip-hop to understand the hook in “Black and Yellow,” and the fans at East Hall undoubtedly take the same pride in the school colors as the players. When the song started playing, everyone in the gym knew the focus was playing for that name on the front of the jersey and doing whatever it took to make sure the end result was a win.
Although it might sound ridiculous, that might be the difference in a win or loss during the playoffs. How a team starts can directly correlate to how the game plays out, and when the song over the loudspeakers effect you like its supposed to, you’re more than likely to have a strong beginning to the game.
The Vikings have it good because they’ve found their anthem and get at least one more chance to come out to it. Other teams, which don’t exactly use a song with as great an impact, aren’t so lucky. Only five other teams are alive in the state tournament, and four of those five must play road games in the second round.
There’s no doubt they’ll have to play in front of a hostile crowd, and if that team chooses the right song to come out to, that crowd and those opposing players might be nearly impossible to beat.
That’s why having home court advantage is so important; not only do you get to play in front of your own fans, but you get to prepare while listening to your own song.
Believe it or not, that song will remain with you for the rest of your life.
Jonathan Zopf is a sports writer for The Times. Follow him at twitter.com/gtimesjzopf.