The Jock Jam has Seventies roots in grandma-oriented disco (the Village Peoples’ “YMCA”) and chant-along bubblegum rock (Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”). Some Jock Jams are rock jams but they usually thrive in the cheesy chewy space between the danciest dance-pop and poppiest pop-rap – they’ll get it started in here, they’ll pump up the jam, they’ll let the dogs out, they’re gonna make you sweat, they’re weirdly appropriate to listen to while running a three-man weave.
The golden age of the form lasted from the late Eighties to the mid Nineties – from “It Takes Two” and “Whoomp (There It Is)” through “Hip-Hop Hooray” and EMF’s “Unbelievable,” and the Bucketheads’ “The Bomb” and Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” (all compiled on the classic five-volume series ESPN Presents Jock Jams). Sonic and lyrical innovations in hip-hop during the post-Timbaland/Jay-Z era have rendered the Jock Jam’s simple volume-pumping, tootsie-rolling, EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!-ing pleasures somewhat déclassé these days. But the Jock Jam isn’t going to end up in the locker room laundry bin of history anytime soon.
The 10 Best Jock Jams of the Moment
Our assessment of the Jock Jams currently rocking sports-arena sound systems – and some nominations for a new Jock Jam canon
#10 Gwen Stefani feat. Akon, ‘The Sweet Escape’And lastly, pour some out for the all the Jock Jams that never get heard in their entirety – that maligned sub-genre known as the “brief stoppage of play” Jam. These songs have a monster three or four second hook perfect to put on while a ref confers with the scorer’s table or a player is slow to get up after a hard foul – in this case, that amazingly catchy “Woo-hoo! ee-hooo!” part. If you got your musical information solely by attending live sporting events you might not even know Gwen sings on this. Guess she’ll have to console herself with the fact that Bush’s “Machinehead” is very popular at soccer matches.