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Olympics 2012: Your ultimate playlist
Pump up your adrenaline in support of Team USA with these winning tunes.
Tue Jul 24 2012
The 2012 London Olympics have sparked many questions: Can swimming sex symbol Ryan Lochte kick the ass of 16-medal winner, 12,000-calorie eater Michael Phelps? Will South African "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius outrun his full-body competitors? Can the American women's soccer team steal back the title from Japan? While we have to wait patiently to find out the answers, there are a few things we do know. Sir Paul McCartney will perform during the opening ceremony (let it be "Jet"!), and the Spice Girls have officially reunited for the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony–which is enough to motivate any music fan to plop in front of the television to support Team USA in the fight for gold. To pump you up even further for the following weeks' hard-hitting competitions, we've put together ten winning tunes that will motivate from start to finish.
1. "Gonna Fly Now" (Rocky theme), Bill Conti
This instantly recognizable 1976 pop-culture staple is synonymous with Rocky Balboa's gray-sweatpants-clad run up the "Rocky stairs" of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Those opening trumpet blasts are exhilarating enough to inspire any average joe to shoot for a win in the world heavyweight championships–metaphorically speaking of course.
2. "Lose Yourself," Eminem
In the case of this Grammy-winning Rocky anthem for the 21st century, the more explicit the better. Taking a break from cussing out his mom, Eminem recorded this tough-ass rap song on the set of 8 Mile in one take—approximately the same amount of time it took to become the essential soundtrack to college sporting events across the country. Whether you're going for the gold or motivating yourself to jog around the block, remember Slim Shady's gritty words: "Success is my only motherfuckin' option, failure's not."
3. "The Touch," Stan Bush
If you're a Boogie Nights fan, you might've thought that "The Touch" was a Dirk Diggler original, but no: It was actually little-known melodic-rock songsmith Stan Bush who penned the tune, which debuted in the original 1986 Transformers flick. Don't feel like a world champ when this one's playing? We suggest you consult your psychiatrist.
4. "Winner," Cheeseburger
This over-the-top gem, a 2011 offering from local party-rock goofballs Cheeseburger, comes off like the musical equivalent of a blustery boast sesh from Eastbound & Down hero Kenny Powers. Laugh all you like at lines like "I hit a home run right over your fuckin' head"; this stomper still provides the surefire ego boost you'll need when you're gunning for that gold.
5. "Power," Kanye West
Disappearing off the rap map for eight months following a series of now-notorious outbursts, the 5'7" rapper with a big ego came back with a vengeance. In a series of sizzling rhymes and bumper-sticker-worthy lyrics, Kanye raps, "Do it better then anybody you ever seen do it / Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it / I guess every superhero need his theme music." Kanye wins the gold with this one.
6. "The Distance," Cake
You've just passed the halfway mark of our playlist, and there's nothing better than this 1996 Cake hit to keep the adrenaline pumping. The Rocky theme accompanied you while "reluctantly [crouching] at the starting line" and Kayne's "Power" helped you get "reckless and wild [to] pour through the turns," and now with the aid of John McCrea's deadpan vocals, "we're going the distance." Power through.
7. "The Best," Tina Turner
Known for her buff bod, lion-maned soul titan Tina Turner may look like she's fit enough for the Olympics. In this 1989 Bonnie Tyler cover, the age-defying Turner belts, "You're simply the best! Better than all the rest, better than anyone, anyone I've ever met"—a line we should be reminding Team USA in London. Not to mention, a woman upwards of 70 successfully sporting a leather miniskirt can be pretty damn motivating.
8. "Eye of the Tiger," Survivor
This ferocious 1982 No. 1 single was written at the request of tough guy Sylvester Stallone for the third Rocky movie. All-American hero Rocky Balboa gets a little too comfortable with the high life and slacks off on his hooking and jabbing duties, prompting his buddy Apollo Creed to remind him, "When we fought, you had that eye of the tiger, man—the edge!" Creed's encouragement gets our favorite boxer to go the distance and get back on his feet.
9. "Gold," Spandau Ballet
British New Romantics Spandau Ballet got pulses racing and shoulder pads shakin' with this '83 smash, from their hit album True, wherein immaculately coiffed lead singer Tony Hadley sings, "You're indestructible!" while 50 different types of percussion (or thereabouts) and a string section battle it out in the background. If ever there were a song to win to, it's this.
10. "We Are the Champions," Queen
The end is here. Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for nearly finishing all ten Olympic anthems. As a congratulations, we leave you with this Freddie Mercury power tune, with an irresistibly inspiring chorus that has found its place closing both Queen concerts and football games. This is fitting, seeing as Mercury once stated, "I was thinking about football when I wrote it. I wanted a participation song, something that the fans could latch on to." And latch on they did.