Want to make the stadium rock? Here are 15 songs that will do it

Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), singer with Queen, standing in front of a drumkit as he sings into a microphone on stage during a live concert performance by the band at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom, on 5 June 1982. The band's anthem, "We Will Rock You" remains a staple at sporting events.
Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), singer with Queen, standing in front of a drumkit as he sings into a microphone on stage during a live concert performance by the band at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom, on 5 June 1982. The band's anthem, "We Will Rock You" remains a staple at sporting events.

Credit: Fox Photos

Credit: Fox Photos

Most of us are skipping the stadiums this year.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still cheer on your favorite team — even if it’s only in your head — with some of those time-worn musical standards that accompany major sporting events.

And for those who are trekking to a stadium this season, you’ll still hear plenty of familiar sounds.

According to ESPN, 20 of the 32 NFL stadiums are — as of this week — allowing a smattering of fans, depending upon state health guidelines. As per sports industry trade magazine Sports Travel, 71 college stadiums have opened to reduced numbers of fans and students (for college football, attendance varies tremendously among the conferences and states).

As anyone who attends sporting events can attest, though, even a small crowd can be mighty, and with fewer (oft-drunken) voices screaming at players and refs or trying to out-coach the experts on the sidelines, it’s an ideal time to crank the music even louder.

Even at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where a limited pack of fans has been allowed for Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United games, the venue is in full production mode the same as if it were a full house of 70,000.

Of course, some stadium anthems are specific to the sport. A gem such as John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” only works with baseball (there’s always next season, Braves), and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” while used elsewhere, will follow Yankees legend Mariano Rivera even when he walks the grocery aisles.

Others are synonymous with their hometowns. Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” closes out Dodgers games, while Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” is a Yankees staple.

Then there are the evergreens. So here, in no particular order, are 15 of our favorite adrenaline pumpers.

The Rolling Stones, “Start Me Up”: All anyone really needs to hear is the opening guitar riff and consider yourself jump-started.

The Stones perform "Start Me Up." The Rolling Stones rocked 42,000 fans Tuesday night, June 9, 2015, at Bobby Dodd Stadium on their Zipcode Tour. Robb D. Cohen /.RobbsPhotos.com  
The Stones perform "Start Me Up." The Rolling Stones rocked 42,000 fans Tuesday night, June 9, 2015, at Bobby Dodd Stadium on their Zipcode Tour. Robb D. Cohen /.RobbsPhotos.com  

Credit: Robb D. Cohen/.RobbsPhotos.com

Credit: Robb D. Cohen/.RobbsPhotos.com

Queen, “We Will Rock You”: If you’ve watched “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the 2019 biographical film about Freddie Mercury and Queen, you were no doubt delighted by the scene that depicts Brian May creating this perennial anthem (usually paired with Mercury’s contribution, the soaring “We Are the Champions”). Stomp. Stomp. Clap. Repeat a few dozen times. The end.

The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”: The story goes that the song morphed into a sports anthem when, in 2003, Milan and Belgian soccer teams began using the intro as a taunt to each other. The leap to the U.S. was — possibly — in 2006 when the Penn State marching band played it at football games. As Jack White has pointed out, it’s amusing — and gratifying to him as a musician — that people at sports events are singing not a chant, but a melody line.

Blur, “Song 2”: Whoo hoo. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.

Kiss, “Rock and Roll All Nite”: Inspired by Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” (later immortalized in the U.S. by Quiet Riot), Kiss' signature song achieved mild popularity in its recorded form, but the live version, released a few months later, is what thrives.

Kiss' Gene Simmons (left) and Paul Stanley brought the glam to rock 'n' roll at their April 2019 concert at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Kiss' Gene Simmons (left) and Paul Stanley brought the glam to rock 'n' roll at their April 2019 concert at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Neil Diamond, “Sweet Caroline”: Though most associated with Boston’s Fenway Park, the 1969 singalong has ping-ponged throughout the sports world. In April, the Carolina Panthers blasted the song through an empty Bank of America Stadium in honor of the frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

AC/DC, “Hells Bells” and/or “Thunderstruck”: The former is an ideal indicator that the clock is ticking for your team to go for it on fourth and inches; or for the visiting team to start trudging to the locker room. The latter is just fun to nod along and pump a fist to while sitting in your seat, waiting for the 3,382nd commercial break to finish.

Europe, “The Final Countdown”: The song possesses one of the whiniest choruses ever committed to recording, but it also comes with a built-in purpose for sporting events.

Guns 'N Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle”: Is there a better example of macho posturing?

Eminem, “Lose Yourself”: The tense, creeping beat is motivating enough, but when Eminem starts firing his lyrics about having “one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted,” it’s enough to make even a spectator eating a pretzel feel invincible.

Eminem performs "Lose Yourself" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Eminem performs "Lose Yourself" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Gary Glitter, “Rock and Roll Part 2”: No doubt, it’s hard to reconcile Glitter’s unseemly personal acts with his musical career, which, in America, essentially consisted of this 1972 instrumental (its flip side was the similarly creatively titled “Part 1”) and the minor hit that same year, “I Didn’t Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock and Roll”). But the simple stomp and “Hey!” shout that anchors the song remains irresistible to sports fans.

Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin'”: If you’re a long-suffering supporter (welcome, Atlanta Falcons devotees, to the club occupied by us Miami Dolphins fans since Dan Marino retired), you have this on an endless loop in your brain every week.

The Fratellis, “Chelsea Dagger”: The Scottish rockers crafted an insta-anthem for the Celtic Football Club and its appearance has been widespread throughout soccer games internationally. Chicago’s Blackhawks also adopted it during their 2010 Stanley Cup run.

Bon Jovi, “Livin' on a Prayer”: See: Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin.'”

Tag Team, “Whoomp! (There It Is)”: Is anyone surprised that the song debuted at Atlanta’s Magic City, where Tag Team’s Cecil Glenn (aka DC the Brain Supreme) was working as a DJ? Along with Steve Gibson (aka Steve Rolln), Tag Team struck gold (album sales), but their “Whoomp!” success was never duplicated.

More stadium anthems ripe for the playlist: Republica, “Ready to Go”; DJ Khaled, “All I Do is Win”; T.I., “Bring 'Em Out”; Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train”; Kris Kross, “Jump.”

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