Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My PA Announcer Journey - In-Game Music

One of the things I have been able to do over the years in my journey as a public address announcer for sporting events is to provide in-game music for some of the events I cover. I mostly do this for the Freeport and Bowdoin football and basketball games. Since it is basketball season I thought I would go through some of my favorite go to songs for hoops.

Like public address announcing, you want the music to be part of the event... but not be THE event. As the PA Announcer, you don't want to be the balding middle aged guy only playing 80's hair metal. So you gotta mix in a bunch of song styles to fit the multiple generations in the stands. All the while you have to make sure the songs that are played are free of swears and generally are appropriate for all audiences. Not as easy as one would first think! The Google Lyrics website gets a lot of hits from me.

So here is a typical basketball game progression for me:

Pre-game
Typically, the players will provide a playlist of songs they want to warm up to. I don't play any of these player provided music lists without the express approval of the athletic director. I do have a mix of modern "clean language" songs (and instrumentals) ready to go, in case I need quickly play something during warm-ups. Some of the songs in my pregame list include 300 Violin Orchestra by Jorge Quintero, Black & Yellow (Instrumental) by Whiz Kalifa, Sail by AWOLNATION and Butterfly Effect by Travis Scott.

1 Minute Left in Warm-ups
At this point, I switch over to my music on my computer and I play Mighty Love by Eric Prydz. I find this an nice upbeat bridge song that builds up momentum over the minute in anticipation of the starting lineups introductions. In fact find a lot of modern dance music good for in-game play.


After the starting lineups are introduced:




It's time for the National Anthem. I have a good instrumental anthem that moves right along. I am not a fan of the long, drawn out anthem.

Opening Tip
After the anthem, it's time to announce a sportsmanship statement then the teams break their huddles to get ready for the opening tip. At this point I have a few songs on my go-to opening tip play list.

Right Now - Van Halen
Good opening song. Not overly fast but sets a good dramatic mood and a nice build up to the opening tip.


Wanna Be Starting Something - Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is timeless. Great opening lines and beat for the opening tip.


Enter Sandman - Metallica
I use this more for football kickoffs... but if it is a big basketball game that is going to be action packed right from the opening tip, this is a good song to use.


Get Ready - 2 Unlimited
I save this song for the BIG GAME. If the gym is packed for a rivalry or playoff game and the fans are fired up, this song usually gets people clapping to the beat and supporting their teams.


In-Game Music
During breaks in the game (timeouts etc.) I try to match the songs with the mood in the gym. If the game is turning into a blowout, I go to my "Groove" playlists. These are songs that have a nice beat, but are not designed to get the audience fired up. It doesn't make sense to play Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses if a team is up by 40 points. So some examples of groove songs are Adventure of a Lifetime by Coldplay, Be Right There by Diplo or What is Love by Haddaway.

If it is close, especially in the second half, I break into the "Pump" playlists. I try to mix it up with classics for the gray hairs in the audience (including me) but try to mix in some more modern stuff so the students don't get incredibly annoyed. Think Good Feeling by Flo Rida, Let's Go by Calvin Harris or Rock You Like A Hurricane by Scorpions.

If the crowd is in a good mood during the 3rd & 4th quarter breaks I will play a dance song like the YMCA by The Village People or Macarena by Los Del Rio. This can be a lot of fun if the crowd lets themselves get into the groove a little bit.

I basically try to get most people in the audience tapping their feet, clapping their hands or swaying to the beat at some point in the game. I have a couple of hundred songs in these lists and I am always swapping songs in and out to keep things fresh.

I play mostly in small gyms, and music can be helpful during timeouts especially if the coach is upset and is giving his or her team a good yelling. The music covers over the voices and makes it more comfortable for all involved.

Then when if the game is close in the second half... and maybe the home team is behind by a point or two... at the end of a timeout I go to one of my 'Stadium Pump' playlist favorites to try to get the home crowd a bit more excited and supporting their team. I have about 20 songs to pick from but a couple of my favorites from this list are:

Strike It Up - Black Box
An oldie, but with a great opening and a timeless beat to get the crowd going.


We Will Rock You - Queen
Fans always clap along to this song. They can't help it!




I Like to Move It - Nicola Fasano
This one is a bit more modern and often gets fans clapping along as well.


And if it is a tie game with 10 seconds left, after a timeout Twilight Zone by 2 Unlimited is great as it fires up the crowd even more.




Post-Game
After hopefully a win by the home team, I like to send the fans home to:

Green Onions - Booker T. and the M.G.s
Classic Beat, Classic Song. Good one to be humming as the fans walk to their cars.


And in the case for the Bowdoin Women's Basketball team, after every win I play We Are Family by Sister Sledge. Appropriate song as this Bowdoin team plays as one family... and fortunately I get to play that song a lot!


It's a lot of juggling sometimes. Reading scripts, queuing music and figuring out what appropriate song to play next in a game. But it is a lot of fun!

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