By Dan Charest @dannyacharest on March 29, 2014
Every single broadcast has them, but you may not notice if it is not thoroughly executed. It is the introduction music to a sports broadcast, and they can either enhance the network's coverage before a single kick, serve or pitch, and live in the lore of sports coverage, or just fall by the wayside, unnoticed to history.
Here are the 12 best.
Monday Night Raw on USA Network boosts its broadcasts by announcing they are the longest running series on cable. This past Monday was the 1,087th episode, but the now three-hour format is enhanced by its run of intro music, from "Raw is War" to Nickleback's "Burn It To The Ground." But the best intro song, the one that gets me the most psyched for the greatest superstars in sports entertainment was Papa Roach's "To Be Loved."
I'm was not the biggest fan of the old-school Monday Night Football theme that lasted from 1989 until 2011, spanning across two networks (ABC, ESPN). That before Hank Williams Jr. opened his mouth on American politics and it got canned midseason, but it is so synonymous with the telecast it has to crack the list.
NBC has really done an excellent job with their hockey coverage since getting the rights following the 2005 lockout, and the intro music is just the starting off point. It makes me want to watch some playoff hockey with Doc upstairs and Pierre between the glass right now.
The Ryder Cup is the best event in golf, pitting Europe's best 12 golfers against the higher-ranked but still-underdog Yanks. An event so awesome needs a killer intro, and NBC delivers here, before a shot of better ball or Sunday singles even tees off.
ESPN cranks out awesome World Cup coverage, from the exquisite Ian Darke on the play-by-play to the red head Alexi Lalas on studio analyst duty -- all of which makes it a shame that the worldwide leader lost out on FIFA World Cup rights after 2014 to FOX. However, their intro really jives right into the telecast, combining the enormity of the tournament with the landmarks of the host nation.
This brings me back to the epic seven-gamers between the Red Sox and the Yankees a decade ago. This piece epitomized postseason baseball, until FOX got rid of the tune in 2007 in favor of the one they used, and still use, for their NFL coverage.
I cannot decide which is better -- either the Faith Hill intro (yes, even as a huge Carrie Underwood fan I really prefer the Faith Hill intro), or the instrumental tune that comes after it, with Al Michaels' voice in the background. It's a tough decision, but the two of them combined make for the best current theme song in the NFL.
ESPN might have the NBA coverage edge over NBC when it comes to on-air talent (I will take Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy over Marv Albert and Doug Collins any day), but NBC, NBA rights holders from 1990 until 2002, clearly has the edge it intro music. John Tesh's "Roundball Rock" takes you back to the glorious MJ, Ewing and Barkley days of the 1990's.
This is what college football is supposed to sound like. A phenomenal lead into each week's top game in America's top college football conference, the SEC, and has everyone from Gainesville to College Station, Columbia to Baton Rouge, saying "WOW!" just like Verne Lundquist.
Just majestic. Couple this easy listening with the elegant shots of Nelson Bridge, Amen Corner, and the smooth sounds of Jim Nantz, and you get the perfect theme for the coveted green jacket.
Why CBS altered this wondrous intro jingle, I will never understand. Today's versions is similar, but not quite as 1990's and does not scream out NCAA Tournament like the one from 1993-2003 does.
No music equalizes the event it covers more so than the Olympic Theme. The history of the tune is interesting, as French-American composer Leo Arnaud created "Bugler's Dream" in 1958, 10 years before ABC first used it for the 1968 Winter Olympics. NBC kept the song's rights when they got the 1992 Olympics, and used Arnaud's instrumentals until around the 0:46 mark, when John Williams' (the composer behind the scores of Star Wars and Home Alone) "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" kicks in.
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