Welcome to Pop Music Survival Kit: The Perfect Song for Every Occasion
When I played a year of Little League baseball, I was the catcher, but I kept missing balls because I would always turn around and talk to people in the bleachers behind me. When I played a year of soccer, I actually got pretty good, but I was always more interested in going to Wendy’s after the game than I was in the game itself.
These days, I love running, and I love doing intense cardio workouts on TV. I also love throwing a Frisbee around, hiking up steep things, and watching the Olympics. But otherwise? Sports are not my jam. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey… they’re like Beatles music or soy cheese on a pizza: I can tolerate them, but they will never be my idea.
But sometimes, there’s just no escape. Sometimes, my boyfriend wants to watch tennis or my parents want to go to a Mets game while they’re visiting from out of town. And what can I do? I don’t want to spoil their fun, and I can always distract myself with snacks. To psych myself up, though, I have to listen to songs like this…
(1) “Power and Control” by Marina and the Diamonds
Sometimes, I can endure sports by observing them like an anthropologist in the rainforest. Oh, look! The ritual of raking the field! The communal release of the seventh inning stretch! The weird, primitive insistence on having urinal troughs in the men’s room, as though we’re all just a bunch of filthy animals!
“Power and Control,” by the spectacular dance-rock singer who calls herself Marina and the Diamonds, gets me in this mindset. Over a sick, sick beat, Marina drops some dark lyrics about love being a game… a game of (you guessed it) power and control. It’s an angry song, sure, but it’s a nice reminder that almost everything humans do can be more interesting if we observe the strange games hidden beneath the surface. You know, like the homoerotic ballet that is professional football.
(2) “One Moment In Time” by Whitney Houston
Oooooooh, lord! I will never forget you, Whitney! And I will never forget your stirring theme from the 1988 Summer Olympics!
Nothing makes me appreciate the emotional value of sport like this brilliant power ballad, which for real gets me choked up every time I hear it. If sports can give us this song, then I guess sports are doing something worthwhile. (Note: As I mentioned above, the Olympics generally get a pass from me, because they’re so often about the achievements of individuals, not teams. And I really prefer watching individuals push themselves to succeed instead of groups of dudes hustling around. But maybe that’s just me.)
(3) “Keep Their Heads Ringin’” by Dr. Dre
Why this song? For one thing, it’s a thumping kick in the ass from Dr. Dre, who commands us to be awed as he drops rhymes over thundering beats. For another, it’s got that awesome “ring-a-ding-ding-ding-dong” chorus, which is fun to sing.
But most importantly, this song was the theme of my high school’s homecoming football game in my junior year, and as a member of the Student Council, I selected it as the theme. That’s right! I soundtracked a football event! And it was awesome! So this song always reminds me that even for a solo exerciser like me, there might be a home in the sports arena.
(4) “Eyes Open” by Taylor Swift
This is a great, haunting ballad from The Hunger Games soundtrack. It’s the song that convinced me, once and for all, that Taylor Swift has matured from a precocious teen star into a fascinating young singer-songwriter. And if I’m dragged to a basketball game, it reminds me that it could always be worse. I could always be fighting in the Hunger Games.