“Woo-Hoo!” The (Not-So) Definitive List of the Best Hockey Songs

It’s been a while since I’ve put anything in here — sorry for the absence. I’m slowly updating/deleting/cleaning up my online things, and this is now my only blog. In going through files on my computer from my last year of school, I found a few writing samples I wanted to post. I promise the updates will come more swiftly soon. But, let’s face it, looking for a job just isn’t that interesting.

Without further ado, piece #1: A column I wrote for a sportsj class I took fall semester. Also, please note the irony of the picture I just randomly chose off Google Images.

The team bursts out of the locker room hallway and onto the ice for pre-game warm-ups. Fans watch with rapt attention as the opening presentation on the scoreboard high above center ice shows highlights of teams past and present. An elated player shouts and pumps his fist in the air as his slapshot finds its way just past the goaltender’s glove and into the back of the net.

And each time, the same thing fills the arena air: cheering and clapping from the crowd, yes – but, also, music.

Whether it’s on your iPod, in a concert hall, or in a sports arena, music inspires you. It’s meant to make you feel a certain way, evoke emotion. Hockey music should pump you up, get you amped for what’s happening – make you, the people munching popcorn in the stands, feel like them, the ones padded up on the bench.

Fortunately, popular music has given hockey fans some great background noise. There have been a lot of songs played in arenas across the United States and Canada, but I, like every hockey fan, have a few favorites.

The Warm-Ups Song: Linkin Park, “Bleed It Out”

“Here we go for the hundredth time,” sings Chester Bennington at the beginning of this song. Sometimes, each night does feel like the hundredth time of those pre-game warm-ups, both from the player’s perspective and the fan’s perspective. Hearing the same pre-game music can drive you nuts pretty fast, but this is one I’ll never get sick of. I loved this song and thought it would be an awesome hockey song since I first heard it. It slowly works its way from a slower start to a frenzied second verse, just begging to be clapped along to. And after a long road-game stretch or the summer hiatus, the familiar, winding guitar at the beginning brings a smile to your face: hockey’s back.

The Opening Ceremonies Song: Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”
The New York Rangers used this as their opening song for a season, and a friend and avid Rangers fan claims it was widely discussed: while a few liked it, most thought the song was too slow and didn’t fit the mood. I could see both sides of the coin, until the Boston Bruins used the song for their opening during a couple of playoff games in the 2007-2008 season. Staring up at the Jumbotron in the dark arena, hearing the heavy guitars and the downright eerie lyrics, you really felt like they’d “been waiting for this moment for all [their lives].” And the quick drum solo, coupled with some strobe lights and particularly well-chosen highlights of hard hits? “Oh, Lord.”

The Goal Song: Blur, “Song 2”
When you grow up a Buffalo Sabres fan, this one is a given. Through the ‘90s, the brit-pop “Woo-hoo!” chorus burst out of the speakers in HSBC Arena – or the soon-to-be-demolished Aud, before the new arena was built – as players like Pat LaFontaine and Rob Ray lit up the red light behind the opposing team’s goal and got fans singing along. Although it’s been replaced by fog horns, the song still makes an appearance every so often, giving the building an old-time feel, even when so much of the game has changed. Part of the attachment to this song is the memories, but the pounding guitars and the slower verses that wind up into that great chorus are what get it on this list. Some teams have recently used a techno remix of the song, but it’s not the same. This is a hockey game, guys, not a rave.

The Fight Song: Nickelback, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”
This song was made to be a Saturday-night boxing/wrestling match theme. But when the gloves get dropped during a hockey game, center ice can sometimes turn into a boxing ring, so why not give in an appropriate soundtrack? You can thank Elton John for the “let’s get crazy” lyrics, but the recent remake by Nickelback gives the song the guitar-rock edge it was meant to have. The beginning of the chorus – “Don’t give us none of your aggravation/We’ve had it with your discipline” – is both an early warning to opposing agitators and a middle finger to the referees, making no excuses for when the scene on the ice becomes more WWE than NHL.

The Post-Win Locker Room Celebration Song: Lupe Fiasco, “Superstar”
The soft R&B chorus, mixed with Lupe Fiasco’s raps, makes listeners feel like superstars. Picture cameras flashing as the buzzer sounds on a huge win, followed by a post-game champagne celebration in the locker room, and you can just hear this song in the background. During the 2007-2008 season, I got used to seeing the same scene when walking into the Boston Bruins locker room after a win: the media, TV cameras and all, enter the black-and-gold themed room to see the players, wearing satisfied grins, perched under their nametags, ready to address the awaiting public. “Have no fear/The camera’s here,” indeed.

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