Sunday, October 4, 2009

Best sports theme songs - no, not Hank Williams Jr.

I rarely watch NFL pregame shows, but I caught parts of the CBS one and the FOX yukfest today. I guess they get fans in the mood for bone-crushing football. But they don't really inspire, do they? It might be the music's fault.

CBS should give a nod to fans stuck in the past, ahem, and bring back the old NFL Today theme song. And while I know he now works for ABC, Brent Musburger needs to return and just announce four simple words at the start of every show: "You are looking live." Derek Jeter has long said he wants the recorded voice of legendary Yankees PA man Bob Sheppard to announce his name when he comes to the plate. I want my Sundays to start with Brent, and, more importantly, with this song:

The old NFL Today theme song is one of the great ones in sports television history, but I wouldn't consider it the best. Here are the other candidates.

Another football, the classic Monday Night theme. It's hard not to listen to this without picturing Tony Dorsett running 99 yards against the Vikings, the fat Fridge running over the Packers in 1985 and...OJ Simpson being part of the broadcast booth.

It's almost impossible to choose the best NBA intro song ever. John Tesh's beloved - the only time the word beloved is usually used in relation to John Tesh - NBA on NBC song is generally regarded as the superior version. But the CBS version from the 1980s, while not written by a former TV reporter with great hair, is just as memorable. I actually prefer the CBS song, although it has little to do with musical appreciation and more to do with the fact it was played before five Lakers titles while Tesh's song dominated the 90s, when the Lakers sputtered before regaining their spot at the top of the league toward the end of the decade.

Here's Tesh's song, with a classic Marv Albert intro during the Bulls-Knicks series in 1993. Tesh's music kicks in at the one-minute mark:

And now CBS, narrated by...Musburger, who was the announcer on 99 percent of all CBS broadcasts during the '80s. This was before Game 4 of the 1987 Finals, the game famous for Magic Johnson's hook shot with two seconds left to win it:

Wimbledon is known for the white outfits the players wear, the grass courts, and great music from NBC. There are actually two songs that NBC trots out for the classic tournament. This one opens the broadcasts, as Americans wake up at 8 a.m. to watch Martina vs. Chrissy or McEnroe vs. Connors.

And once the championship match is over, and Pete Sampras is holding up the trophy while his vanquished foe looks on and Dick Enberg wraps up the action with a solid essay, they'd play this. The most famous part begins at 30 seconds.

Like Wimbledon, This Week in Baseball utilized a couple of different songs, each made better by the presence of Mel Allen. I miss TWIB notes.

And here's the more inspirational song, the one used to close the show. Imagine Ozzie Smith doing his flips or hitting a homer off of Tom Niedenfuer in the 1985 NLCS.

For the patriotic set, it's tough to beat the Olympic song. As great as this one is, it only appears every four years so doesn't quite measure up to the weekly offerings. Although this is inspirational; hearing this, I want to compete in the heptathlon, climb a pommel horse and boo a Russian.

ABC's Wide World of Sports has a great song, but is made much better because of Jim McKay's narration and one of the more famous highlights in sports history: the ski jumper who tumbles before his jump and suffers "the agony of defeat."

Before listening to all of these again, I would have listed the NBA on CBS song as my personal favorite. But now I'm going with the closing of This Week in Baseball.

The worst? So many to choose from, from ABC's recent NBA presentations to, yes, Hank Williams Jr. But as much credit ABC used to get for its Monday Night Football opening, it should get just as much scorn for its old Major League Baseball on Monday nights introduction. Not even Brent Musburger could have saved this one.


Jerry said...

When ABC had the NBA in the early 70's they had a really good song, too. Of those listed it is tough to choose between MNF, CBS's NBA theme of the 80's and the closing of TWIB. I don't think one can go wrong with any of those three.

Mike said...

The JWP pepband did a pretty sweet version of the NFL today.

Shawn Fury said...

Yes they did, I remember. That and "Tequila" were sort of their most-famous ones, the ones all the crowds would always ask them to perform, until they finally got tired of them and climbed back onto their truck and drove away.

I think youtube might have that old ABC theme as well.

Neil R said...

No "One Shining Moment?" I tear up everytime I hear that, knowing March Madness is over..

Shawn Fury said...

Yeah that one should probably be included. We should have cued it up after our second-place finish in Fulda. The Masters theme music on CBS is another good one.