When Sports Meet Song: Professional Athletes And Famous Fans Making Music

Flaming Lips

By Zachary Swickey

Anyone keeping up with this year’s NBA Finals is aware that the Oklahoma City Thunder are on a roll, and quite possibly on their way to their first national championship. OKC-based experimental rockers The Flaming Lips are proud of their hometown team and recorded “Thunder Up! Racing for the Prize” in their honor.

The song is a re-recording of a signature Lips track, “Race for the Prize,” off their iconic 1999 effort The Soft Bulletin, with some new winning-centric lyrics: "Theirs is to win / We win with them / They'll keep fighting for Oklahoma" Wayne Coyne sings, while the shouted refrain of "Thunder Up!" is repeated in the background.

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This is by no means the first time the music world has collided with sports. There are plenty of moments worth mentioning.

Take for example the track that made Wiz Khalifa a household name: “Black and Yellow.” The track is Khalifa’s ode to the city of Pittsburgh and the colors of its professional sports teams. Prince recorded a similar tribute (“Purple and Gold”) to the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 after witnessing a game against the Dallas Cowboys.

>> Flaming Lips Insist Oklahoma City Thunder 'Will Win' NBA Championship

Artists aren’t the only ones getting in on the action; entire teams will occasionally craft a song together. The Green Bay Packers once spoofed the craze of the “Macarena” dance movement with the “Pacarena” in 1996. However, the most memorable is the 1985 Chicago Bears' “Super Bowl Shuffle,” a rap tune which has been parodied countless times and was inexplicably nominated for a Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance by a Duo or Group. They lost the Grammy, but won the Super Bowl.

Of course, some might be more familiar with the attempts from athletes themselves at making music.

There are plenty to choose from – Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson – but the one we’ll never forget is Shaq’s foray into the music world. His ’93 debut effort, Shaq Diesel, was eventually certified platinum and he guest rapped on “2 Bad,” a track off Michael Jackson’s 1995 HIStory album. His next effort went Gold, but his albums since have missed the mark. His last disc was released all the way back in ’98, but there’s always time for a comeback.

Listen to The Flaming Lips' "Thunder Up! Racing for the Prize" below!