Tako Tuesdays: The Importance of a Good Theme

No, this post isn't written by Takimoto. But I'm calling it Tako Tuesdays because its Tuesday, and its what you expect.

Obviously, we talk a lot about sports here on ATQ. That conversation usually revolves around watching games on television. Bitching sessions about lack of replays, shoddy camera angles, lack of HD, horrible announcing, and overall poor broadcast quality often ensue, especially if the game happens to be on FSN. However, what we have failed to mention is the role of the theme song. The importance of the theme song is often underrated, but it sets the mood for your whole sports viewing experience. A good theme song has you pumped and into the game, while a poor theme song is a message that the event is going to be underwhelming from the get-go. With the theme song being so important, it brings up the obvious question:

What makes a good theme song?

To put it briefly, a good theme captures the essense of the sport in song, while building excitement at the same time. That isn't always easy to do, because it has to rope you in while going with the flow of the game. CBS' March Madness Theme is a great song that clearly works for a fast sport such as basketball. However, make it a baseball theme, and it goes on the bad list. Its far too fast for a slow paced game like baseball (slow baseball themes are generally superior to fast ones). The tone of the music also has to go with the sport. The rhythm should generally match the speed of the game, and the power should as well. Don't break out the heavy timpani for a tennis match.

For your entertainment, I've identified the worst theme songs in sports, as well as my five favorites. Discuss away in the comments.

THE BAD:

The Masters:

Can somebody please explain this to me? I don't understand why people watch golf. I don't understand why people go ape over the Masters. But, more than anything, I don't understand why their "iconic" theme music sounds like the song that plays during the coming of age scene in a made for TV special. This doesn't get the viewer ready for exciting athletic competition. It gets them ready for a very special episode of Blossom.

NFL on FOX:

Its troubling to have to put this on the bad list. The song itself isn't bad. In fact, I think its the best NFL theme song out there, and that includes "Monday Night Football." The music enovkes the kind of manly gladiator image that you expect of an NFL game. The problem is that Fox decided that it shouldn't just be an NFL song. Fox had an okay baseball theme. They scrapped it for this, which makes no sense for a game with slow action. Fox got college football last year, and again used this theme song. This has been Fox's NFL theme song ever since I can remember, and that is the association with it. Fox has badly overused it, and baseball and college football come off as unimportant to the network as a result.

One Shining Moment:

I had forgotten about this one until Matt Daddy brought it to my attention last night. People actually like this?

College Football on FSN:

To be fair to this theme song, I'm not sure that its terrible in and of itself (though its not terribly good), as much as it became synonymous with bad camera angles and horrible production.

HONORABLE MENTION:

SportsCenter:

This isn't the theme song to an actual sporting event, so it doesn't count, but one would be remiss in writing such a piece without inclusion of the SportsCenter theme, specifically the "da-da-dum da-da-dum." Everyone has the obnoxious guy at the gym who utters those syllables when sombody actually makes an ill-advised shot they had no business taking. While its unfortunate that SportsCenter's quality has eroded to the point where its nearly unwatchable, the iconic theme remains, albeit slightly remixed from the days of yore. Now if only they could bring back Patrick and Olbermann.

THE TOP FIVE:

#5 - College Football on ESPN:

The music here clearly plays to pageantry and tradition of college football, and is a bit more touchy/feely emotional than I normally like in my theme songs. It doesn't capture the power or speed of football like most FB theme songs do, but the angle that they go for makes it kind of unique and refreshing. It definitely works. When I flip on the TV in the morning and hear it, I know its going to be a great day of watching a lot of football. Its also the theme that I most associate with the current, most successful age of Oregon football. That should make everyone happy.

#4 - Olympic Anthem (Bugler's Dream)

This is an absolutely great song. Its the Bohemian Rhapsody of theme songs. There are so many different layers and pieces that have no business going together, but then you get the finished product and its awesome. It starts off with a heavy dose of very strong, with the purpose of sounding patriotic, but then puts together all kinds of melodies and speeds, that part of it could be used to introduce things as slow as curling and shot put or as fast as swimming or skiing and have you absolutely pumped to watch any of it. Its really the perfect song for an event as diversified as the Olympics. And, like the olympics, its all wrapped in a nice little package that just works despite that diversity.

#3 - ESPN National Hockey Night

This is a really underrated theme song, and one that is oft forgotten as ESPN doesn't cover hockey anymore. I've never been a big hockey fan, but this one always roped me in for a good ten minutes or so. Its really a perfect hockey song, as it conveys the combination of power and speed that a good, physical hockey contest should have.

#2 - CBS March Madness Theme

The greatest event in sports gets almost the greatest theme in sports. If you listen to that, and tell me that a fistpump isn't forthcoming, you're a liar.

#1 - NBA on NBC (Roundball Rock)

This is so far in its own stratosphere as the greatest theme song in the history of televised sports that nobody could put up a serious debate. While I'm still trying to figure out how something so awesome came from John Tesh, I can't argue with the results. Its a complete capsule of basketball in song.

People often talk about how the NBA has gone downhill since the retirement of Michael Jordan. They blame the me-first superstar and spoiled overpaid players that have too much power. Thats bunk. Jordan was a me first superstar who got Doug Collins fired and treated his opponent with utter disrespect. Guys like Jordan, Malone, Drexler, and Olajuwon aren't worlds better than Bryant, Durant, James, and Paul; the difference is that ESPN has a garbage theme song that wouldn't excite a kid in candy store. Put this song back in NBA telecasts, and the product automatically gets better. Guaranteed.

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