ESPN’s college football rock songs: A Stockholm Syndrome history

SBNation Sports 3 months ago

By the end of the season, ESPN’s endlessly repeated pop rock songs are stuck in your head.

One of the weird college football sub-traditions is a TV network jamming some stadium rock song down our ear canals for an entire season. Whether it’s heading to a commercial break in a game or to promo the upcoming week’s Saturday Night Football game, it is now a regular occurrence.

First, a refrain (music term) for the song that is actually good.

“Back in the Mud” by Bubba Sparxxx was the College GameDay theme before Big and Rich came along.

The song talked shit about other shows “our show is so superior to your show” ...

... and the BCS: “BCS controversy, will they finally settle it? / Put the two best teams on the field, forget the rhetoric.”

There’s something about the seamless transition into the collegiate regular College GameDay intro at the time that worked.

Bubba Sparx gave way to “comin’ to yo citayyyyyyyyy.”

If you want a little zing in your zang zang, then you’ve come to the right place every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. eastern time.

I find myself whistling this during the offseason randomly. That’s how annoyingly catchy this one is. It’s just synonymous with the road show that’s a ritual for so many on Saturday mornings.

ESPN now rolls out a rock anthem every season.

You could tell me these were all by the same band, and I’d believe you. Some of these have been used by ESPN for college football promos, and some haven’t, but all have been played endlessly during college football broadcasts. You can’t tell the difference.

The 2018 season’s stadium anthem is by Imagine Dragons, who may or may not have sung every other video in this section. Get used to it now.

Thankfully, they broke up the electric guitar with some Kendrick Lamar during halftime of the Alabama-Georgia title game.

Kendrick, who’s also had “DNA” and “Humble” air during games, and Eminem have undoubtedly been the two rappers you’re most likely to hear on college football broadcasts. This happened, after all:

But who can ever forget those ... Taylor Swift spots?

The poppy songs like Swift’s, and another by Fergie that ESPN used, are made to be ear-wormy.

Then, they just get repeated so often during commercial breaks that you have no choice but to identify with them. They’re also attached to something we’re all inherently interested in: football highlights. You’re already paying attention to what’s on the screen, and that’s how the music finds its way into your cranium and lodges itself there until January. It’s not just background music; it’s the soundtrack to something your brain is already invested in.

CBS, home of the SEC’s biggest games, goes heavy with the country, for obvious reasons.

We get it — you’re Southern.

The full version of this Brad Paisley song gave us a BIG RED CAMEO.

Hoo boy, was this Garth Brooks lip sync terrible during the 2016 version.

This last one is actually the ACC Network’s syndicated intro that’s a remix of an actually good Jason Aldean song, “My kinda party.”

And the SEC Network opted for more of a Southern rock theme.

The problem is we all need to be honest with ourselves.

By November, a Stockholm Syndrome effect happens. We’ve heard these songs so much that we almost start to enjoy them.

Just wait. During this season’s Rivalry Weekend, you’ll be humming along to the latest song by the one rock band that made all these songs.

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