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What Ever Happened to Jock Jams?

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Y’all ready for this? Unless you were living under a rock between the years of 1990 and 1999, odds are that you’ve listened to Jock Jams, the decade’s most infectious sports soundtrack.

jock jamsBack then, Jock Jams was everywhere. You couldn’t go to a sports stadium without hearing it or watch ESPN without seeing an ad for its latest volume. But two decades later, much like CDs, Tamagotchis and other fads of the 1990s, Jock Jams is nowhere to be found

Here’s a quick update on the sports soundtrack that powered us through the 1990s.

Jock Jams jump-off

 The first Jock Jam album was released in 1995. It promised the “hottest crowd-pumping grooves of all time” and became an instant sensation. The brainchild of Tommy Boy Records and ESPN, Jock Jams was designed to turn songs that didn’t have anything to do with sports into anthems to get the crowd going at sports stadiums.

Tommy Boy’s founder and CEO Tom Silverman saw an opportunity to take popular hits, license them and network them to a different audience. Once he took the idea to ESPN, the rest was history. There were six Jock Jams albums in all, each centered around hyping up both sports athletes and fans. The albums took “one hit wonders” and made them bigger, and mixed in classic 1980s and 1990s hits already destined to be stuck in your head long before you heard them pounding from the stadium loud speakers.

At its peak, Jock Jams Volume 2 sold more than 1 million copies. The “grandfather of compilations” came to an end in the early 2000s due, in part, to the rising popularity of the NOW: That’s What I Call Music albums.

The Jock Jams legacy

Odds are, you’ve probably heard hits like “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C&C Music Factory and “Rock and Roll Part 2” by Gary Glitter. And even if those names don’t look familiar, you’ve undeniably heard the songs if you’ve ever been to a sports stadium. That’s the beauty of Jock Jams. Nearly two decades after the project folded, the anthems it helped create are still mainstays in stadiums across the nation.

Meanwhile, other compilations are looking to Jock Jams as inspiration. PRMD (pronounced “pyramid”), an independent record label, recently started its own series of compilations called “Cold Chilling.” The series features reinvented covers of classic West Coast gangster rap from artists like 2 Pac, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. One of its main collaborators was at Tommy Boy during the rise of Jock Jams, and he credits the old-school project as a major point of inspiration for this new compilation.

Top Jock Jams anthems

If you’ve ever heard a song with an undeniable beat and felt pumped up for your workout, you already know that music can have a major effect on your fitness performance. Research shows that music can reduce feelings of workout fatigue, improve your motor coordination and increase your mental fitness.

But not every song is created equal. How did Jock Jams choose its stadium masterpieces? Ray Castoldi, one of the key architects of Jock Jams, described it this way to the Huffington Post: “It’s got to have a really clear, engaging beat and a certain tempo range that will be a sweet spot—not too fast, not too slow. These songs are being played back in a big reverb chamber, a sports arena with crowd noise and sound echoing around, so the song can’t be too busy or have too many components because it has to engage the fans. If the song has a part to chant along to or do certain dance moves to, it’s going to have an extra edge.”

If you need an extra edge for your next workout, try exploring these Top 10 Jock Jams workout anthems, ranked by the pros over at Billboard.

  1. “Get Ready for This,” 2 Unlimited (1991): Y’all ready for this? If you’ve ever watched Space Jam, you’ve heard this anthem, which is still a mainstay at sports stadiums across the country.
  2. “Crazy Train,” Ozzy Osbourne (1981): An undeniable favorite of metal heads and sports fans alike. Try it during your next weight workout.
  3. “Jump Around,” House of Pain (1992): The song that put House of Pain on the map will definitely infuse your next workout with major energy.
  4. “Rock & Roll Part II,” Gary Glitter (1972): Have you ever been to a sports arena and not heard this song? If you’re not sure, maybe this clue will help: it’s infamous for repeating “Hey!” throughout the entire song.
  5. “Eye of the Tiger,” Survivor (1982): It’s the theme song from Rocky. Need we say any more?
  6. “Seven Nation Army,” The White Stripes (2003): This alt-rock anthem has enough power and enthusiasm to get anyone up and moving.
  7. “Kernkraft 400,” Zombie Nation (1999): Although the name of this song is often unrecognized, you’ll definitely know what to do when its “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” chant comes in around the two-minute mark.
  8. “Hip Hop Hooray,” Naughty by Nature (1993): This 90s hip-hop track is still a mainstay at sports stadiums, and a worthy addition to your workout mix.
  9. “Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns N’ Roses (1987): The first hit from the iconic 80s band, still featured at stadiums nationwide to get fans pumped up for the game.
  10. “We Will Rock You,” Queen (1977): The ultimate song to inspire some friendly competition, and one of Queen’s most iconic hits.

The 1990s have come and gone, but in stadiums and weight rooms around the country, Jock Jams is still leaving an undeniable mark. Try mixing these workout anthems into your fitness playlist to give your next sweat session a major dose of nostalgia.

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