Staff Top 10
Top Ten Rock Anthems Of Australian Sports Broadcasting

music—preferably up-tempo rock and/or big beat electronica—will always go hand in hand with sports broadcasting; just think of what a law unto itself the Superbowl Half Time Spectacular has become over the years. There will always be songs played alongside sports news or segments on ESPN, but here in Australia, sports broadcasting has a musical language all of its own. Call it lack of imagination, call it stick-in-the-mud syndrome, call it faithful, but Australia’s television networks seem to like picking a particular song and then using it with such blatant enthusiasm that said song becomes forever synonymous with that particular sport or event.

Australia is a country that takes its sport very seriously (many tried at the last Census survey to have Australian Rules Football acknowledged as the national religion), so it’s not surprising when young bands profess a desire to have their song licensed for the footy season or V8 Supercar series: it’s like having your child recognised as a reincarnation of Buddha. So, grab a couple of choobs out of the Esky, tie on your footy scarf, shut one eye and shout “CARN YA BLOODY MONGRELS” along with me as we enjoy the Top Ten Rock Anthems Of Australian Sports Broadcasting!

10. Guns And Roses - “November Rain”
An unlikely entry in this Top Ten? Not likely! “November Rain” played, on average, five times a day (at least) during Channel 7’s coverage of last year’s Olympic Games. It was the go-to song for all “meaningful” video montages, from the Iraqui soccer team’s unexpected success to Greek weightlifter Pyrros Dimas bowing out graciously after being pipped in his attempt for his fourth (and last) Olympic gold medal before retirement. The Gunners wedding classic also has the added advantage of Slash’s uplifting middle-eight guitar solo, which is perfect for accompanying all the footage of relay teams coming back to carry injured members off the field, retired champions kissing their children and partners and various other shameless tearjerker moments... Sob, sniff… It‘s bloody beautiful.

9. Rose Tattoo - “We Can’t Be Beaten”
Hands down one of the most exciting songs committed to Australian record, singer Angry Anderson wrote “We Can’t Be Beaten” whilst soaking up the atmosphere at an ’80s soccer match (to be more specific, watching Arsenal get pummelled, in the driving rain) in London whilst on tour. Inspired by the Arsenal fans’ undying spirit (“as they lost the first, second and third goals, the crowd sang louder and louder”, Anderson recalled last year), The Tatts brought this tough anthem back to our shores where it was quickly picked up as both a pump-up song for teams of various sports and a handy soundtrack to any meaty sports footage. Sadly, the song has slipped out of favour along with the gradual dwindling of tough, fridge-sized footy thugs with names like Plugger, Dermy and Spider as they’ve been replaced by non-drinking, non-smoking, mincing prima donnas with names like Brett, Brad and Matthew, who cry when given a penalty instead of punching the ump and unleashing a torrent of abuse upon anyone in a ten metre radius. Perhaps if “We Can’t Be Beaten” is force-fed to these young turks they’ll grow a bit of chest hair again…

8. Metallica - “Fuel”
A masterpiece of modern motorsports broadcasting, “Fuel” has accompanied everything from the Easter Nats (where redneck bogans have burnout competitions while wet t-shirt babes get shot with beer cannons) to the Top Alcohol drag championships to to the entire V8 Supercar series. I should know, I was a V8 Supergirl (don’t ask). There’s nothing like a flashy, jump-cut montage of Russell “The Enforcer” Ingall tearing around Mount Panorama in his souped up Stone Brothers Racing Ford BA Falcon to the tune of “Fuel” to get the blood pumping.

7. Queen - “We Will Rock You”/”We Are The Champions”
There are some who would consider it a bit of a cop-out listing both songs, but have you ever heard them used separately? The answer is no. It’s always a stirring video montage of tough-looking athletes doing their thing to the tune of “We Will Rock You“ (throw in some fanatical supporters and cheer-squads for colour), followed by, perhaps, a black screen with an even more stirring message about something like “Achmed from Outer Mongolia had always wanted to be a 400m freestyle champion…” to the sound of “We Are The Champions,” even if Achmed came last by 28 minutes. In fact, I swear I’ve heard “We Are The Champions” used for more loser/crash/tragedy/sob-story montages than I actually have winning/champion-esque video mash-ups.

6. 2 Unlimited - “Get Ready”
There was a time in the ‘90s when you couldn’t attend, watch or compete in a basketball game without hearing “Get Ready” at some stage; obvious retro embarrassment aside, hearing that opening synthesiser riff blaring down from above is pretty damn exciting. And now that Fatman Scoop is probably the preferred basketball hype-man of choice (I haven‘t been to a game for a looong time, much less played in one), you can always find “Get Ready” pumping at a cheerleading championship (my old high school used it only last year), probably thanks to Bring It On’s Sparky and his spirit fingers. Cheerleaders might well be dancers who have gone retarded, but their record collections apparently stopped growing in the mid-’90s.

5. Audioslave - “Show Me How To Live”
Aside from actual Audioslave fans (cue: crickets), there aren’t very many people in Australia who realise this song doesn’t in fact start at the 0.21 minute mark and go for only 10 seconds, accompanied by the words “coming up on Sports Tonight…” The chugging riff, looped, has been greeting Aussie sports fans every night at approximately 11.30pm for years now. In fact, Sports Tonight have one of the most inventive (or at least under-28 and vaguely in touch with the zeitgeist) music programmers around; for various segment ‘themes’ they have recently used Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” and Klonhertz’s “Three Girl Rhumba”.

4. EMF - “Unbelievable”
The Australian sports broadcasting industry has been keeping the Cinderford one-hit-wonders in residuals for the past fifteen years solid. “Unbelievable” is a remarkably versatile sports rock anthem, though it is most often found battering eardrums while accompanying ‘Mark Of The Year’ features, which isn’t really surprising: there’s something in that opening “aowh!” (come on smart guy, you spell it) that perfectly suggests a) the noise the entire MCG makes when Acker takes another screamer, b) the noise said Aussie Rules footballer makes when given a 50m penalty, c) the noise the crowd makes when that happens and d) the noise everyone makes, including the commentators, when Acker finally boots it through for six. Goal!! Ahem.

3. Blur - “Song 2”
Ah yes, the song that had the Brit Pop faithful sobbing “sell out!” and the sports broadcasting fraternity rubbing their hands together with glee. “Song 2”’s bombastic nature and snappy length was made to complement shots of professional sporting prowess and its accompanying subtlety, modesty and graciousness in victory.

2. Red Hot Chilli Peppers - “Higher Ground”
If “Show Me How To Live” is the current general sports broadcasting themesong, “Higher Ground” is the old guard. Since its release, the RHCP cover of Stevie Wonder’s inspirational funk anthem has been coupled with everything from Australian Rules football to motorsport to gymnastics to swimming to equestrian. It’s got it all: a driving riff, energy, shout-along chorus, motivational theme and a structure easily divided into bite-sized pellets perfect for introducing the ‘Play Of The Day’ or a montage of comedy sports fuck ups, with a bat to the face or parallel bar to the nuts jump-cut to correspond with each of Chad Smith‘s forceful snare whacks.

1. Hunters And Collectors - “The Holy Grail”
Though you might not have heard it if you live overseas, I’d wager that if you stopped any Australian on the street and asked them to recite this song, they could. The vaguely-Catholic nonsense song by local favourites “Hunners” was first used by Channel 7 in the late ‘90s as a theme song for their coverage of the AFL Grand Final. Its connection to the sport deepened and Ten bought exclusive rights to the song in 2002 when the network picked up the AFL broadcast. Singer Mark Seymour seems perpetually bemused as to why his song was picked up as the national sport’s semi official theme song (but no doubt happy with the royalties), given that it has absolutely nothing to do with football whatsoever. Having said that, its quasi-religious overtones perfectly match Australia’s spiritual connection with football (there are many Aussies who’d rather go to “The ‘G” than to church; Carlton Blues player Nick Stevens recently chose to play in the Wizard Cup pre-season grand final instead of carrying out his duties as his brother’s best man); add to that the Grand Final trophy’s status as every football player’s personal “Holy Grail” and a chorus that’s simple enough for a stadium of footy fans to sing along with (“I’m still here! I’m a fool for the Hoooolyyyy Graaaaaiil!”) and you’ve got a song that is bloody perfect for the job, actually.

By: Clem Bastow
Published on: 2005-03-18
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