Image credit: (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Music and baseball have a closely linked relationship. Between the music the provides the soundtrack for batting practice, walk-up songs and the music playing between innings, a baseball game can almost feel like a concert at times.
With that in mind and inspired by DJ Earworm’s masterful “Decade of Pop” mashup, I was inspired to look back at the top 25 songs that provided the soundtrack of college baseball in the 2010s. To be included, the song had to be released in the last decade or returned to prominence in the last decade for a specific reason (like being used as a walk-up song). So if you’re looking for “Centerfield” or “Chicken Fried”, you won’t find them here.
Welcome to college baseball’s playlist of the 2010s.
1. “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons: This song was so much a part of college baseball in 2018 that Imagine Dragons even (presumably coincidentally) played a concert at CHI Health Center in Omaha, across the street from TD Ameritrade Park, the day before the College World Series finals began. Even if the song ever fades in popularity, it will live on as a rain delay staple forever.
2. “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled feat. T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop Dog and Rick Ross: From the aptly named album, “Victory”, DJ Khaled dropped this banger just before Opening Day in 2010. Everybody’s hands quickly went up…and stayed there throughout the decade.
3. “This Town” by O.A.R.: This song technically doesn’t fit the parameters I laid out. It was released in 2008 and ESPN immediately started using it as a key part of the College World Series broadcast. But it also was the music of choice for every CWS of the 2010s. If you watched any CWS game on TV over the last 10 years, you heard this song and that’s enough to break my own rule.
4. “Cal Baseball Reinstatement Rap” by Eric Walbridge, Derek Campbell and Andrew Knapp: Recorded less than five months after California stunned college baseball in September 2010 by announcing it was cutting its baseball program, the song opens with, “Raise your hand if you’ve still got a program. Oh, snap.” What follows is four minutes of amazingness. It is pure college, pure frat rap, pure silly freshman antics. It is also a sober reaction of three freshmen – primarily Walbridge, who produced the video – finding out they wouldn’t have a baseball program past their first season at Cal. The song uses the music from Asher Roth’s “I Love College” and has impressively good lyrics for the genre. It’s full of pointed commentary on the decision to cut the team, while also mixing in a shoutout to every player on the team. The video was done in three days, which is an impressive feat unto itself. Best of all, it comes with a happy ending. Cal made the College World Series in 2011 and the decision to cut the program was reversed. Had the program not been reinstated and other major schools followed Cal’s lead, the song could have become an anthem for the sad state of the game during the 2010s. Instead, it functions as a perfect time capsule for the Cal season and frat rap in 2011. “Do we really got to leave? Nah. Reinstate us please.”
5. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift: Swift’s hit was everywhere, and it was most certainly at baseball fields. The craze has slowed down a bit since it was released in 2014, but this song will definitely be all over playlists in the 2020s.
6. “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy: It’s a shame that Imagine Dragons popularity exceeded Fall Out Boy in the 2010s. Light Em Up might not be lyrically interesting, but it hits way harder than Imagine Dragons could ever hope to.
7. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen: This song truly deserves two entries. One, because the 2011 smash hit has become a ballpark staple. But it also provided the soundtrack for college baseball’s biggest viral hit of the decade. Harvard was on its spring break trip in 2012 when it filmed a choregraphed dance/lipsync video in a van on the way to a game. It was shown on Good Morning America and was shared far and wide. The video has now been viewed more than 19.6 million times on YouTube and helped the Crimson draw attention to the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which supports children with pediatric brain tumors.
8. “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons: Because it was on the same album as “Thunder” and “Believer”, “Whatever It Takes” got overshadowed a bit in overall pop culture. But not in stadiums where they do whatever it takes to pump up fans and players alike.
9. “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line: Perhaps the best country rock song of the decade, it certainly was one of the most popular at ballparks. It makes you want to roll down a window and cruise.
10. “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons: Welcome to the new age. Imagine Dragons in some ways defined college baseball with its stadium rock songs, beginning with this one, released late in 2012. It really was radioactive.
11. “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker: It’s not a new song and the original Old Crow Medicine Show version is objectively better. But Rucker’s up-tempo version is more stadium friendly and after it was released in 2013, it quickly became the default version at ballparks across the country.
12. “We Are Young” by fun. feat. Janelle Monae: Tonight, we are young is playing at a ballpark near you. So let’s set the world on fire and sing along with fun.
13. “Gettin’ Warmed Up” by Jason Aldean: This song wasn’t released until 2018 but it’s destined to be on your team’s pregame playlist for years to come. We’re just getting warmed up, just getting started, already fired up.
14. “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco: A classic song to play right before (or while) a team takes the field. We’ll be hearing this one for a long time because we’ll always have high, high hopes right before a game.
15. “Your Love” by The Outfield: If you were in Starkville any time in the last four years, you heard this classic as Jake Mangum’s walk-up song. Mangum was one of the best players of the decade and he had some of the best walk-up music. Once the first strains of the song played in Dudy Noble Field, the whole energy changed. And those lucky enough to have been at The New Dude for Game 2 of the 2019 Starkville Super Regional will never forget how loud the stadium was rocking when this song played before the start of the ninth inning, which he led off with a single.
16. “My House” by FloRida: FloRida welcomed fans across the country to his house after he released this song in 2015. Play that music too loud, indeed.
17. “Congratulations” by Post Malone: There was a time where it seemed like every third player was using Post Malone as his walkup song. Now they always say congratulations.
18. “Lovesick Blues” by Mason Ramsey: The viral video swept across the nation in the spring of 2018 and college baseball was no exception. It got used as walk-up songs and rally cries and just about everything in between.
19. “Old Town Road (Remix)” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus: It made a very late entry, as the song didn’t truly break through until midway through the 2019 season, but Lil Nas X’s smash hit was everywhere in the second half of the season and will undoubtedly stay in solid rotation into the next decade.
20. “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock: Released just before the 2011 season, party rock was in the house throughout much of the early part of the decade. You don’t hear it as much now, but back then everybody was having a good time.
21. “Dirt On My Boots” by Jon Pardi: Pardi got a little dirt on his cleats after releasing this song in 2016. Smooth, easy BP music or a quick between innings song.
22. “Take It All Back” by Judah & the Lion: After this song was released in 2016, ballparks across the country were signing along with the banjo.
23. “Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles: You had to travel to Coastal Carolina for this one, but if you heard “There are stars in the southern sky” playing in Springs Brooks Stadium, it meant Andrew Beckwith was coming into the game. No matter whether he was starting or relieving, that was bad news for opposing hitters. The song was so popular that it was sometimes played in Conway, S.C., bars.
24. “Slide” by the Goo Goo Dolls: Harvard took the honors for college baseball’s most famous cover, but Arizona and infielder Sawyer Gieseke made the best videos of the decade. “Goo Goo Cats – Slide” was the breakout hit, and Gieske and Arizona also produced excellent Family Matters and Major League parodies and they filmed a cover of “This Town” for ESPN in Omaha. The production quality on Slide as well as Robby Medel’s stylings as front man made this a must see.
25. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars: Don’t believe me, just go to any ballpark. Uptown funk gonna give it to you during BP or in between innings.