It’s no secret around the THN offices that I would love to pick the music played at a hockey game; I even interviewed Pittsburgh’s game night producer for a playoff article a couple years back.
But I also recognize even if given the chance, I would need training wheels in order to pull off the job. The music is what I’m confident about; it’s all the timing and quick thinking needed that would trip me up. Think it sounds like an easy job? The Penguins’ producer, Billy Wareham, estimated that resident DJ Vinny Karpuszka plays parts of at least 100 songs per game, maybe even 200. Keep in mind, almost every whistle in a hockey game is accompanied by a song and one tune is rarely repeated (unless you’re in Chicago and the Hawks score).
So here’s my easy way out: The following are the songs I would play if I was in charge of the music at your team’s rink, based on certain obvious situations.
Team comes on the ice, aka the big intro: Refused, “New Noise.” Fast-forward to the four-minute mark of the song and imagine your team’s announcer starting off with the “ladies and gentleman, welcome to such-and-such arena,” during the quiet part, ending with the team’s name and the players bursting out onto the ice as the wall of thunder kicks in. Chills, people, chills. Plus, Refused came from Sweden, a very respectable hockey nation.
Home team scores first goal: Andrew W.K. “Party Hard.” Coming in at the famous chorus. Because your team just scored, so hey, let’s get a party going. Another great Andrew W.K. track? “We Want Fun.” Also works here.
Random icings/offsides: Dizzee Rascal “Fix Up, Look Sharp.” A big beat banger that samples Billy Squire for the rock purists. Everybody wins! Other tracks for random breaks: “Kids” by MGMT, “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa, “Walk” by Pantera, “Same Old Thing” by The Streets.
Fight, home player wins: Helmet w/House of Pain “Just Another Victim.” Fast-forward to the 38-second mark. From the classic ‘90s soundtrack to the movie Judgment Night starring hockey fans Denis Leary and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (plus Mighty Ducks coach Emilio Estevez). In fact, a lot of songs on that soundtrack work well for hockey fights. “Judgment Night” by Onyx and Biohazard would also be killer, so let’s hope for two scraps that evening.
Stop in action, asking fans for noise: Big Business, “Hands Up.” Fast-forward to 35-second mark. I know, fans should just go crazy on their own and you shouldn’t need to ask them to be loud, but just in case, we put ‘em on the jumbotron and crank this tune. Hands up for the people beside you!
Big save by home goalie: Trillville, “Neva Eva.” There’s no radio edit on YouTube for this massive crunk track, but I assure you one exists. When I find it, I will play it when our goalie robs the other team, who can neva eva, eva eva, eva eva, eva eva eva eva, get on my level (what?) get on my level.
Penalty called on home team: Public Enemy, “Fight the Power.” Straight to the chorus. Clearly the ref was out to get us on that call. This anthem couldn’t be a more obvious choice.
Penalty called on visiting team: Guns N’ Roses, “Don’t Cry.” Four-minute mark, when Axl and the guy from Blind Melon are really going off with the whiny vocals, just to aggravate the enemy further. Don’t you cry, Sir Hooks-a-lot; there’s a heaven above.
Second period intro: Mastodon, “Blood and Thunder.” Straight from the top. As a bonus? Some of the Mastodon boys are Atlanta Thrashers fans.
Third period intro: AC/DC, “If You Want Blood.” Gotta get everyone amped for the final 20 minutes. Come in at 3:35, after the guitar solo. Now a quick addendum: It’s a scientific fact that no song can rouse people up more than AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” but we all know that. Let’s save the showstopper for overtime and give original singer Bon Scott some love with a song clearly aimed at hockey fans. You want blood? You’ve got it.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.