Today, June 23, marks the opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympic Games, though a few events are already underway. What better way to get totally pumped about worldwide athleticism and team (U.S.A.) spirit than through the songs on #ThematicStatic? We asked for tunes and bands referencing sports, and boy did you alley-oop 🏀…hit the target 🎯…knock us out 🥊. (Ok, enough with the puns.)
Stream the full July 22, 2021 #ThematicStatic show (listen!👇🏼), and check out oodles more sporty songs to spice up your air-conditioned viewing of the summer games.
We launched an epic 11-song set, which took up most of the hour, with British band Sports Team and their 2020 tune “Camel Crew.”
Jaime DM’d me to turn me onto one of her favorite bands, Weekend, and a track from their album Sports called “Summer Coma.” Fingers crossed that none of the extreme feats of athleticism in Tokyo result in head injury! (Listen here 👇🏼):
Jason on Instagram recommended the aptly named “Sports” by Swedish punks Viagra Boys, and the video does not disappoint (watch!👇🏼).
On the Track
Kurt Vile & The Violators first covered The Velvet Underground years ago, and finally recorded a faithful, hypnotic rendition of “Run Run Run” for a compilation called I”ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico, out in September. Blunt Subject requested this on Instagram and we tucked it into the 8 o’clock hour before #ThematicStatic, but you can hear it and watch 👇🏼 the trippy video below, whilst wishing you could see Sha’Carri Richardson zoom lightning speed for Team U.S.A. (Baby, you’ll get that gold someday.)
“The Distance” is a classic footrace anthem by Cake, said Tony, who’s not wrong.
Belle & Sebastian sang about “The Stars of Track and Field,” and Kirk made a request for the Scottish band’s lovely ode to our sprinters, jumpers and general speed demons. Hard to compete with lyrics this good:
The stars of track and field are beautiful peopleBelle & Sebastian
Could I write a piece about you now that you’ve made it?
About the hours spent, the wilderness in your training
You only did it so that you could wear
Your terry underwear
And feel the city air
Run past your body
On the Court
Tennis is coming back to Nashville, and I don’t just mean at country clubs and community centers. The married Denver duo will tour this fall in support of their newest record, 2020’s Olympic-friendly Swimmer, and we’ll likely get retro-pop “Need Your Love” live at Basement East on October 26, with another WNXP favorite, Molly Burch, opening. Before then, get a load of the Olympic tennis match-ups, including host country star Naomi Osaka, which begin tomorrow.
The video for Kurtis Blow‘s 1984 track “Basketball” is the cheese you need, I promise. Watch 👇🏼 before you cheer on American teams in the new 3×3 sport, and of course the classic, full-team stuff, too.
Speaking of ballin’, Parquet Courts is a band name with its own sports connotation (I went down a rabbit hole about the Boston Celtics’ legendary parquet court, starting here), but its doubly fitting to play the New York band’s “Total Football,” requested by both Zach on Instagram and WPLN News colleague Tony with this voice memo (listen!👇🏼):
In the Water
Since surfing is also an Olympic sport, I gladly cued up Florida band Surfer Blood’s “Floating Vibes.” Here‘s a primer from fivethirtyeight on how to watch surfing like an Olympic judge. Note: you can still think it’s “totally rad” without knowing technical stuff. Watch Surfer Blood’s official music vid 🤙:
Recent Nashville transplant Haiva Ru‘s excellent debut Bloom Baby Bloom was our #RecordoftheWeek earlier this year, and I just had to air her dreamy love song “Swim” in support of the Olympians who deliver their ass-kickings in the water. Here is The Washington Post‘s coverage of the swimming competitions to watch in future days.
“Dive” by Nirvana was a must-include, too.
On the Field
Baseball and softball are now both Olympic sports, and we can sonically celebrate with former #ArtistoftheMonth Daisha McBride‘s “Baseball” (fun fact: at age 16, she created a sports team anthem that’s still in use at her Knoxville high school) and a throwback soul number from Sam & Dave called “Knock it it of Park,” which was recommended to me by listener Kevin.
Nashville native Hannah asked for some throwback Alabama and, while it was mighty tempting to throw off our indie rock/pop/soul listeners with ’90s country, I’ll reserve some “Cheap Seats” for you here, instead (watch!👇🏼):
It was a no-brainer to play the new Soccer Mommy song, “Kissing in the Rain,” because soccer rules and so does this local band gone big.
Skateboarding is now part of the Olympics, times two, thanks to separate competitions “Street” and “Park.” I’m currently girl-crushing on Brazilian wonder Leticia Bufoni, who’s been boarding since age 9. Dire Straits were singing about “Skateaway” girls long before then, though (watch!👇🏼):
Darts must be an Olympic sport, right? “Wrong” — but archery is. Vintage Archers of Loaf for you:
Kacey Musgraves’ early, twangier tune “Follow Your Arrow” is about inclusion and living your own truth. TBH, my truth is Googling “new Kacey Musgraves release date” just about weekly, since “later this year” is too vague for my anxiety and anticipation.
Gymnast Simone Biles makes superhuman sh*t look graceful, natural and absolutely bonkers. The Washington Post published this explainer with infographics describing the differences and difficulties among vaults, as Biles continues pushing the limits. For your listening pleasure, I present the too-long-for-radio “The Gymnast, High Above the Ground” by The Decemberists. Listen!👇🏼:
These tunes don’t exactly match the big BMX energy you might get with the Summer Games, but how about Pedro the Lion‘s “Yellow Bike” — or “Bike” by Dreamer Boy…or Pink Floyd? “Obvious Bicycle” by Vampire Weekend. I could go on with bike songs so maybe a standalone bicycle #ThematicStatic is in order.
Now taking requests for that unscheduled show, and all future shows, via voice memo at wnxp.org/feedback. If you need me, I’ll be eating junk food in a mostly sedentary position while watching Olympians.