March 30, 2007

The NCAA tournament, man. It takes and it gives. Every March, I buy a three-week pass into the Six Flags of my mind and take a trip on the most turbulent ride the park has to offer. At the end I feel sick, but then One Shining Moment plays, the highlights roll and I am at peace.

But the truth is, even though I respect One Shining Moment, I think it may be time for a change. The song just isn't that good. So how can we contribute without just criticizing the great David Barrett, who wrote the song? Well, SIOCs had some fun with iMovie, made a few of our own montages and came up with some replacements. Here is our list of the top 10 songs for the NCAA Tournament Montage.

10. In The Air Tonite (remix) by Phil Collins and Lil' Kim

I'm not sure if Collins was in the studio when various hip hop artists created "Urban Renewal: The Music of Phil Collins," but years later it makes no difference. This song is incredible. I once saw Collins perform the original at Mohegan Sun and during the dramatic bridge, as he made his way across the stage, everyone was just like, "Is he going to make it to the drums for the drum solo?! Is he going to make it!?" And he made it. And this remix makes it. It's a bit of a wild card on this list, but it deserves to be here. It's the got tenderness of Phil Collins, the brazenness of Lil' Kim and the sort of je ne sais quoi that Tony Parker might have exhibited had he played college ball.

9. Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls

Iris is the Goo Goo Dolls' most poignant song to date, and this includes Black Balloon! Its appeal to human emotion is essential for a great sports montage song, but is without humor and therefore relegated to the 10 spot. I just can't imagine a Blue Devil fighting a Tar Heel set to the line, "And I'd give up forever to touch you." Still, the song embodies the heartbreak of the tournament and deserves its place. It's more bitter than sweet, like the tournament, but it is a little too depressing.

8. Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

I recently discovered that the length of this song is three minutes and 33 seconds, the official time of Larry Bird, and I don't think it's a coincidence. It's the type of song that makes you want to dig deep, bounce back from a poor-shooting first half or draw a charge and spring back up like you were a ninja in Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon. What's the catch? Interestingly, Tubthumping lacks where Iris abounds. Even though it is somewhat sensual when the female voice sings, "Pissing the night away. Pissing the night away," the song is not poignant. It belongs at No. 9, which just happens to be three times three. Larry Legend would be proud.

7. Ready to Go by Republica

The track reminds you what it means to write messages on your kicks, put on your jersey knowing it could be the last time you ever do and slap the backboard extra hard during lay-up lines because, after all, they don't call 'em college lay-ups for nothing. This song would be perfect for a pre-tourney montage or as the first of two songs in the retrospective montage.

6. Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim

Though the title of this song is curiously similar to No. 4 on the list, it is dissimilar in its effect. The beginning draws you in, which is a perfect metaphor for the first weekend of the tourney. Then, as the music crescendos, the tourney peaks. Although the track does not fully appeal to the more emotional aspects of the tourney, its build-up underscores the excitement and do-or-die scenario every team faces.


5. Rock n' Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter

This song, though it might not be the best song for all sports, would fit the tournament montage as perfectly as Cinderella's shoe fits various teams every year. "Na nah nah, nah nah, nah nah." You've got band shots on a silver platter and people getting excited left and right. Still, like every song on this list so far. It's incomplete. The song does not illustrate the duality of the tournament.

4. Right Now by Van Halen

This track might as well be called, "When the game's on the line and you look into your opponent's eyes, do you want it more?" It also scores a few extra Pepsi Points for being the official theme song of Crystal Pepsi. What ever happened to that drink? Let's not think about that now. Right Now is the first song that has the emotion and the excitement. It belongs in the Montage Final Four.

3. Praise You by Fatboy Slim

I hate to put Fatboy Slim on this list twice, but this song just screams, "Montage! MONTAGGGE!" It tells the story of teamwork, about what it takes for a team to coalesce throughout the season, and the feeling that ensues when it all "comes together." It also has a particularly choppy part that would lend itself perfectly to a compilation of the tournament's best images in the form of a rapid succession slide show.

2. Dream On by Aerosmith

Unforgettable moment: when the climax of this song played over an image of Muhammad Ali taunting Sonny Liston in ESPN's SportsCentury Montage, aired at the turn of the century. I once called this the greatest song ever for sports-related montages, and it very well may be, but when all is said and done, there can only be one champion, as there can only be one number one.

1. Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve

When Nike aired the commercial with this song in the late 90's, I knew it would forever mean something more for me. Although it becomes a bit weaker when the lead singer comes in with lyrics, the opening musical arrangement is without a doubt the most inspirational arrangement ever lent to the arena of sports. It's the type of arrangement that makes you slap the floor to start the second half, but it's also the type of arrangement that makes you stay after practice early in the season so you can make crucial foul shots months down the line. It's the type of arrangement that slows a game-winning three down to the essence of what it means to have your legs under you when you need them. It's the symphony that plays in the heart of Julius Hodge (R.I.P.!?), Greg Oden, Darren Collison, Al Horford and a few others who we haven't heard of ... yet.

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