From ‘Jaws’ to ‘Juke Box Hero’, the songs that shape gameday

Rock ‘n’ roll remains a crowd pleaser



Butch T. Cougar hypes the fans inside Martin Stadium up during WSU’s game against Portland State on Sept. 11, 2021.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

It is a Friday night (or a Sunday afternoon for that matter) and WSU volleyball is about to begin their match. However, in that empty space between the starting lineup introduction and the first serve, one song always plays.

WSU volleyball fans regardless of music taste join classic rock enjoyers in immediately recognizing the song “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner after just a few notes.

The marketing team at WSU knows what they are doing. Whenever I think of the song “Juke Box Hero”, which admittedly does not happen often, I am reminded of the lovely confines of Bohler Gym and the hyped-up pregame atmosphere as the band pumps their instruments to the beat and students and fans file into their seats greeting their friends.

As a member of Cougar Marching Band and WSU Pep Band, my views on the music played at sporting events exist. I do not pretend to be an expert in why certain songs are chosen at certain times.

At WSU football games, the marketing team has two playlists.

“We have chill music if the team is on offense and we want the crowd to be quiet, or if the other team makes a good play. On the flip side, we have crowd pumpers when we’re on defense and want the crowd to get loud, or when we make a good play,” said Abigail Gerken, senior public relations major and WSU Athletics marketing intern.

In addition to the PA system, which pumps some of your favorite hits, the Cougar Marching Band, fondly known as the Best in the West performs frequently.

The band plays after every play when Wazzu is on defense with favorites like Seven Nation Army after first and second downs and the fan-favorite “Jaws” song on third down which swiftly leads to the whole stadium doing the shark chomp motion with their arms.

New this year, our graduate assistant Xan Perkins arranged a version of the music from Matt Reeves’  “The Batman” (2022) to play on fourth down.

At the first game versus Idaho, a fan told me he loved the band playing “The Batman” theme. Whenever I play “The Batman” theme, I think of RJ Stone or Daiyan Henley celebrating a successful stop on third down.

After the offense captures a first down, the band plays the theme from “Superman” with trumpet players holding their trumpets with one hand, proudly aimed high toward the sky.

Music is often used to set the mood of a room. Whether it is a small dorm party or the entirety of Martin Stadium, the music we hear in those environments matters.

Sporting events have also been used as a medium for musical performance with the Super Bowl Halftime show being almost as big of a deal as the football game itself.

Ancient Greeks used their Olympic games as a medium for musicians to perform but were very strict about the type of music that was allowed.

Music in the first Olympics followed strict ethos that would shape the way that listeners felt while listening to the music, according to NPR affiliate WOSU.

In 1984, the Olympics commissioned world-famous composer John Williams to compose a trumpet fanfare to be played at the start of the Olympics. Just as his music from “Star Wars”, “Jurassic Park”, “Jaws” and other blockbuster hits inspired generations, Williams’ Olympic fanfare did not miss.

Rock ‘n’ roll’s origins are rebellious in nature as it was initially rejected by the elders in society. However, as the original listeners became adults and world views began to shift, rock ‘n’ roll was embraced as the cultural symbol it is today, opening the floodgates for numerous artists and for venues such as sporting events to be decorated with their stunning sounds.

If you go to a WSU football game today, rock ‘n’ roll has its handprints on every piece of music you hear. Its energy presents itself in dozens of men taking their shirts off in sub-freezing temperatures just for attention and head banging to the music that attempts to keep people in their seats despite the frigid conditions.

The next time you hear the marching band play “The Pretender” by the Foo Fighters or you hear “Juke Box Hero” being pumped from the loudspeakers think about how the music makes you feel and the smile at the beauty and comradery that is live sporting events, a product that would be incomplete without the impact of music and the cultural cauldron that is rock ‘n’ roll.