We’ve established that Fall Out Boy are the new rulers of arena- and stadium-rocking sports jams. Undisputed.
But here’s the thing: if it wasn’t for a little series called Jock Jams from the 1990s, the whole idea of rockin’ and jockin’ might not be such a big deal. The half-dozen compilations from Tommy Boy Records, released between 1995 and 2001, sold millions of copies and helped untold sports maniacs get jacked for the big game thanks to such classic jams as 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready For This,” Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is),” Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray” and Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam.”
And, in the days before every baseball player had his own signature walk-on music, it also helped elevate the stadium and arena music game from such old standards as Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” and “The Old Ballgame” to some of the day’s hottest dance and hip-hop jams.
With the Super Bowl upon us, we figured you’re in need of some classic hype music, so we decided to go to the source and find how how Jock Jams came to be.
MTV News rang up Tommy Boy founder and CEO Tom Silverman to get the secret history of the Jams franchise.
MTV: What inspired the the Jock Jams series?
Silverman: It actually all started with MTV! Before Jock Jams, we did a compilation series called “MTV Party to Go” to raise money for the American Cancer Society after [former Viacom Inc. CEO] Tom Freston’s dad died of cancer. We raised $12 million with a compilation of MTV party records.
MTV: How did that lead into Jock Jams?
Silverman: When that franchise got a few years old, Tommy Boy president Monica Lynch and I were talking about how songs you heard at basketball games were becoming legendary with a different audience. You could already get some of them on feel-good budget K-Tel compilations, songs like “YMCA” [by the Village People]. But when we took on ESPN as a parter we decontextualized them and called them Jock Rock at first. The first one opened with “We Will Rock You” and “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Born to be Wild,” and it had fans chanting “DEFENSE” in between tracks to make it feel like you were there. That one went gold.
MTV: The first Jams had that classic line-up of hip-hop and dance songs, what was the process of choosing those songs?
Silverman: Our idea was to brand it around baseball, football, basketball and hockey and make it a dance record, but when you put it in the contest of a game and tie it in with ESPN it made sense. That album went gold and sold in the mid 600,000-700,000 range. It had things like Snap!’s “The Power,” and a bunch of one-hit wonders, but also things like “YMCA,” which everyone loved. It was a bigger hit than the four or five Jock Rock albums.
MTV: How did you mix it up for the next volume?
Silverman: The second one came out around the same time as the ‘Macarena’ was big. There were two versions, one that’s best known by Los Del Rio, and the other by Los Del Mar. The ‘Macarena’ was never on an album, so you had to buy Jams and that one was the first one that went platinum and it made it to #10 in the top 200. That one also had ‘Everybody Everybody,’ ‘Macho Man,’ ‘1,2,3,4’ by Coolio and [Montell Jordan’s] ‘This is How We Do It.’
MTV: Why do you think they all did so well?
Silverman: They’re all psych up songs, songs that build up energy. Kids would buy this reocrd and use it when they were getting ready for a sports event if they were athletes or if they were going to a college football game. They got your adrenaline going with heart-pumping songs that make the experience more visceral.
MTV: What’s the most essential Jock Jam of all time?
Silverman: Probably Gary Glitter’s “Rock And Roll Part Two.”
MTV: Why’d you stop after five volumes?
Silverman: We had to stop doing them because labels wouldn’t license their songs to us when the NOW compilations started coming out under a collective revenue-sharing agreement by then four major labels.
MTV: We just named Fall Out Boy the current kings of the “Jock Jam.” Do you think they’d be on a compilation you’d put together today if you were still doing them?
Silverman: Absolutely they would be on them. We looked for whatever the hot record was, and they would fit right in, along with a lot of current hip-hop and EDM like Avicii.
MTV: These days every baseball player has their own hype music and there so much more music at sporting events. It was different universe back then, though. Did you ever feel like you were running out of songs to license back then?
Silverman: It got harder toward the end to find songs, yeah. We would use old songs because there was not enough new stuff to justify an album. We couldn’t find 15 songs every year that were the new anthems. But if you look now, they still play the Village People everywhere. There are songs that we used on that series that are still 80 percent of what you hear at games today. Fall Out Boy is one of the 20 percent of new stuff you hear, along with Pitbull, maybe Flo Rida and Pharrell.
Pre-game with this Spotify “Jock Jams” playlist with old favorites and new classics.