Some tailgaters prefer the so-called soothing sounds of the stadium parking lot hustle and bustle on a football Sunday morning. Others prefer to listen to the local sports talk radio to get their fill of pre-game chatter. Really, though, as far as I’m concerned, the best way to stand out among a crowd of tailgaters is to have the ultimate, most killer tailgate mix. Of course the mix does need to be deeper than just five songs, but these five are an absolute must.
5. The Most Recent Inspirational Hip-Hop/Pop Summer Jam
“What’s this, he’s bailing on the list already with a blanket genre? How dare he!” OK, it seems like I’m bailing here, but this particular slot calls for me using a generality. For years the summer jam has been a staple of tailgating, but as we know, summer jams come and go.
Last summer it was DJ Khaled and his jam “All I Do Is Win.” During the 2010 NFL season you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing that song. But, at the same time, you could have said the same thing about the 2005 season when every tailgate was rocking The Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get It Started” or in 2004 when the big jam was Nelly’s “Heart of a Champion.” Heck, you can even go back to 1991 when the summer jam was Will Smith’s “Summertime.”
Summer jams come and go, and after a complete season of rocking the same jam over and over again they easily become tiresome. At the same time, in a small, somewhat fleeting moment they’re absolutely acceptable. Just don’t make the mistake of playing 2010’s summer jam in 2011. That’s a major tailgate fail.
4. “Rock And Roll, Part 2” by Gary Glitter
Take this song out of the tailgating element and it easily becomes one of the most annoying songs. When you leave it as part of your tailgate mix, though, that’s a whole other story. The key to “Rock And Roll, Part 2” being a must-play at your next tailgate is in its simplicity.
First, we all know the song. Second, we also all know what our responsibilities are when this song is playing. After the “Da-na-na-nana-na-na” part we are all obligated to stop what we’re doing and yell, “HEY!” An instant smile moment at any tailgate. Just try getting through it without participating. It can’t be done.
3. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC
This is probably the most perfect amp-up song of all time. It kicks off with a killer riff from Angus Young that builds the song so perfectly and then adds a great sing-a-long moment when the chorus kicks in. “Thunder!” Actually, it’s hard to go wrong with most AC/DC songs, due to their killer riffs and community sing-able moments, but “Thunderstruck” really just stands out.
2. “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘N Roses
This song has the greatest mixture of amp plus “this is our house” mentality. Sure the song itself is about the city of Los Angeles, but every home team seems to believe that their “house” is the “Jungle.” Take this moment from just after the second bridge:
“You know where you are? You’re in (Insert Your Stadium Here), baby! You’re gonna…” Well, you can leave out the “you’re gonna die” part. How about “lose”? Either way, it’s almost too perfect for a pre-game tailgate.
1. “We Will Rock You” and/or “We Are the Champions” by Queen
Time after time, Queen has nailed the “not quite sports yet suitable for a sports rock anthem” genre. Whether it’s “We Will Rock You” prior to the start of the game or “We Are the Champions,” which for the most part jumps the gun when you play it after winning a regular season game, these two Queen anthems are a must for any tailgate. It’s like a Queen sandwich. “We Will Rock You” should be the last song you hear before heading into the stadium and “We Are the Champions” should be your post-game groove. Unless, of course, if your team loses. Then maybe you should opt for “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Tom Lorenzo is a freelance sports, entertainment and pop culture writer from New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at @TomLorenzo .