A good sports movie tends to come with a good sports movie song – and here are some of our favourites.
We’re celebrating songs from the movies today, with a selection of tunes from sporting film favourites. Here’s our choice – leave yours in the comments…
Regulate by Warren G & Nate Dogg from Above the Rim (1994)
Regulate is one of those rare songs which takes on a life of its own and becomes more popular than the film that it first featured in. Although first released on the Above The Rim soundtrack, it was not originally written for the basketball drama. It began life after Warren G bought a job lot of vinyl from a record dealer outside a chicken and waffle restaurant. One of the singles he picked up was Michael McDonald’s Yacht Rock classic I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near).
Warren said “I was like, ‘Wow, this is an incredible record – plus it’s a record my stepmom and my pops used to play. It brought back feelings for me of living with my parents when we lived in North Long Beach. They used to jam with some good music, man.” After playing it back he decided to sample the verses to rap over.
While trying to work out what direction to take with the lyrics, he happened to hire the western Young Guns on VHS.
Following a speech in the movie from Casey Siemaszko’s Charlie, he found the inspiration for the song’s title and theme and also a sample for the introduction.
Do You Remember by Ellie Goulding from Fighting With My Family (2019)
Sometimes there’s not an amazing story to go with a great song. Sometimes a writer/performer is hired to write and/or perform a song, it all goes according to plan, the filmmaker loves it and everyone is happy. This is one of those times. The most interesting thing I could find out is that when asked if this is going to be an album track, Goulding said that it was written just for the film and not her next album.
I tend to share songs which have amazing stories behind them but if I come across a song I just happen to enjoy, sharing my love for the song is enough, right?
Prior to the film’s release Dwayne Johnson announced on Twitter that he liked the track a lot. And who am I to argue with The Rock?
Most Of All You by Bill Medley from Major League (1989)
Three songs probably spring to mind when you think of Major League: X’s cover version of Wild Thing which became the theme for Ricky Vaughan (Charlie Sheen) towards the end of the film; Randy Newman’s Burn On, which many believed to have been written for the movie as it fitted the opening sequence so well but in actual fact was an account of the 1969 fire on the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River; and Most of All You. Of the three, it’s the only one specifically written for the film.
Movie Lyricist Royalty Alan and Marilyn Bergman (Windmills of the Mind, The Way We Were) penned it with the film’s composer James Newton Howard, drafting in power ballad supremo Bill Medley who was a friend of the Bergmans. The melody crops up throughout Newton’s score as the love theme for Tom Berenger and Rene Russo’s characters and, for me, is the one that sticks in my memory long after the credits have rolled.
Glory Of Love by Peter Cetera from The Karate Kid Part 2 (1986)
After Pat Morita’s Oscar-nominated turn as Mr Miyagi in the first Karate Kid movie, the inevitable follow up attracted further award attention – but this time for its theme tune. Glory of Love was Cetera’s first solo effort after parting ways with Chicago. He claims to have written it for another John G Avildsen production – Rocky IV – only for United Artists to pass on it in favour of John Cafferty’s Heart’s On Fire (itself co-written by Joe Esposito, the performer of You’re The Best from the first Karate Kid film). However, the song does seem to contain a lot of imagery in The Karate Kid Part II including an explicit reference to the film’s climactic castle showdown.
In case you were wondering, it didn’t win Oscar gold. Despite Cetera performing it at the ceremony in 1987, it was Take My Breath Away from Top Gun which took the gong home.
Centerfield by John Fogerty from Bull Durham (1988)
Centerfield is regarded as Fogerty’s most successful hit in his post-Creedance Clearwater Revival days. It was written as Fogerty sat watching a game from the bleachers in, you guessed it, centre field. It’s become to many an unofficial anthem of baseball, being played between in stadiums between innings across the USA. In 2010 Fogerty performed it live at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on a baseball-shaped guitar for thousands of fans and Hall of Fame inductees. The song is also a permanent fixture on the soundtrack inside the museum.
Centerfield has, as you would expect, been used in several baseball-themed movies, including Bad News Bears, Little Big League, The Sandlot 2 and of course, because this is Film Stories and, well, Costner is royalty in these parts, Bull Durham.
Chariots of Fire by Vangelis from Chariots of Fire (1981)
Because you can’t have a list of songs from sports films without including this. It’s the law.
It’s also the law that if you grew up in the 80s there was a choice of two sounds to make if you were playing at running in slow motion in the schoolyard at break time. One was the bionic noise from The Six Million Dollar Man and the other was this piece of Vangelis synth loveliness. And as if to prove my point perfectly, Jack Kroll of Newsweek said that there was a “universality to the music” and that the opening shot, with the runners on the beach, has a “subliminal suggestiveness”.
See. Told you.
Make Some Noise (Put ‘Em Up) by The Crystal Method ft. Yelawolf from Real Steel (2011)
Real Steel‘s director Shawn Levy invited band The Crystal Method to his editing suite with the intention of showing them one scene for them to get inspiration for a song. The band loved the clip so much though that they demanded to see more of the film and reportedly got quite emotional at some of the underdog themes in the movie. In the end, they provided two tracks – this one which introduced the robot Noisy Boy and another instrumental piece intended to feature in the first round of the film’s final battle.
Of that track, Levy said “But we mix it on the movie, and I’m like ‘Shit, all of Crystal Method’s sounds are in exactly the same pitch as the robot sound effects,’ so the result was you couldn’t hear it. So then what happened is Crystal Method basically did a kind of collaboration with Danny Elfman, who wrote an overlay on top of the Crystal Method track, so what’s in the movie is this weird unexpected Danny Elfman/Crystal Method duet that works exceptionally well.”
Your Arms Around Me by Jens Lekman from Whip It (2009)
Swedish singer Jens Lekman wasn’t a fan of allowing his songs to be used in movies. In an interview with Stereogum, he said “usually I say no to film synchs because you just get a short synopsis from someone’s agent’s agent, and I always feel awkward my song will end up in the wrong context. You know, I write my songs for specific people, I find it hard to find them applied to someone else’s story.”
However, he was soon taken by director Drew Barrymore’s charm when she personally paid for him to come to LA so she could as him in person for permission to put his song in her film.
“But Drew listened to my concerns,” he said, “and we discussed the scenes she had in mind. At some point, our conversation drifted away and I think we were talking about monkeys, and it just struck me right there and then how surreal my life has become… In the end, what I make my money from is talking to Drew Barrymore about monkeys.”
Leave your own suggestions for tracks in the comments…
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