There has always been a close relationship between sports and music. As two of the most popular forms of entertainment, as well as powerful forms of human expression, it really is hard to imagine a world of sport that does not come coupled with a perfect soundtrack.
Wherever we see sport, we will also hear music. From the walk-in songs blasted through speakers as our favourite sports stars enter the arena, to the chants and anthems that fans belt out in unison before, during and after live games.
Even when we turn on our televisions, we find that sports and music are inseparable, as our favourite sports video games, sports movies and sports television shows all come paired with carefully curated music to heighten the experience.
With all of this in mind, the sports and music lovers here at betting.com wanted to set out to find the most popular soundtracks in sports.
The team has tested close to a total of 1,000 songs that have been used to soundtrack either a sports TV show, a sports movie, a sports video game, or have been turned into a popular sports team chant by fans, or adopted as a walk-in song by a major sports star.
We have tested each of these songs against the same five factors, including the number of Spotify streams, the number of YouTube views, the number of TikTok uses, the monthly average search volume and the highest UK chart position. Each category has been used to give the songs a score out of 10, adding up to a total score of 50, to ultimately reveal the Super Sports Soundtracks.
Making an Entrance: The most popular walk-in songs used by sports stars
Whether you’re a wild-eyed wrestler, beefed-up boxer, or suited-and-booted snooker player, having the perfect walk-in song as you make your entrance into the arena is essential for sports stars to win over watching fans and striking fear into opponents. But which walk-in song was revealed as the most popular?*
The most popular walk-in song is “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, which was famously used by the boxer, Manny Pacquaio. Having originally been created for the Rocky film series, the song has a very close association with boxing. The track received a total score of 47.9 out of 50 in our findings, and has over 1 billion streams on Spotify.
Up next is “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, which was used as a walk-in song by snooker player, Ding Junhui. The song was a number-one single in the UK, and has been watched over 1.1 billion times on YouTube. As such it has received a very impressive 47.8 total score.
Third place in this list went to David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium” as used by another snooker player, Mark Allen. The popular dance track received a total score of 47.3, and has built up a brilliant 1.7 billion views on YouTube.
Ranking fourth place is AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, which was used to soundtrack boxer Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti’s walk-in to the ring, and no doubt intimidate his opponent in the process. The famous hard rock track boasts over an astonishing 1.2 billion Spotify streams, and receives 43,000 monthly Google searches in the UK, contributing to the song’s total score of 46.6 out of 50.
Do snooker players have the best music taste of any sports stars? Marco Fu’s walk-in song “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas (46.2) placing fifth would suggest so. Other snooker players’ walk-in songs such as Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” (37.9) used by Ronnie O’Sullivan and Van Halen’s “Jump” (42.7) used by Mark Williams also ranked within the top 20 walk-in songs.
Elsewhere, the most popular walk-in song used by a wrestler is Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, as used by Brock Lesnar to enter the ring. The heavy metal anthem received a total score of 45.2 and ranked in seventh place.
Meanwhile, the most popular walk-in song adopted by an MMA fighter is “Sandstorm” by Darude. The high-energy dance anthem formed the soundtrack to Brazilian Wanderlei Silva’s walk-in into the arena. The song ranked eighth with a total score of 44.7.
Heard it on the Terraces: The most popular songs turned into fan chants
All around the world, fans of various sports like to cheer and sing to encourage their favourite team or sportsperson to win. From national anthems to pop song parodies, the collective chanting of lyrics is such a big part of live sports culture… especially in the UK.
“Alright lads, I’ve just worked up a song to the tune of Debussy’s Clair de Lune about an opposing player’s drink driving charges, I’ll count us off” penned one viral tweet in 2020, comparing the nature of British sports fans chants to those of American fans. It is true that Brits have a unique talent for creating chants that not only spur on their own team but irritate and intimidate the opposition, too.
What’s more, British sports fans have been able to work up chants to the tune of just about anything, from nursery rhymes and hymns to chart-topping hits and dancefloor classics. But which songs, tunes and melodies have made for the most popular fan chants on the terraces?**
Whitney Houston and Crystal Palace F.C. are two things that most people would imagine have no association with each other whatsoever, but when the football club gave French midfielder Alassane N’Diaye his debut in 2009, Palace fans showed their appreciation by immortalising Houston’s classic ballad, “I Will Always Love You” with the lyrics changed to “N’Diaye will always love you”.
That song earns the number one spot in our fan chants rankings, with a near-perfect total score of 49.4 out of 50. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston has registered a remarkable 1.4 billion views on YouTube, an impressive 339,730 sound uses on TikTok, plus peaked at number one in the UK charts back in 1992.
In at number two is “Freed From Desire” by Gala, which earned a total score of 45.2. The 1997 hit was popularised as a chant by Wigan Athletic fans in honour of their striker, Will Grigg. The lyrics of the dance classic were changed to “your defence is terrified, Will Grigg’s on fire”, and it was so catchy that the chant was sung not just by Wigan fans at football games but by excited party goers at nightclubs up and down the country. The chant has also now been adopted by a variety of football clubs to celebrate their own legends, such as Arsenal fans belting out “Saka’s on fire” at the Emirates Stadium.
Ranking third with a 41.7 total score is Lou Bega’s retro hit “Mambo No 5”, which has been turned into a chant by fans of various football clubs. Typically, the women’s names that appear in the song are replaced with the names of players from the fans’ favoured team. Mambo No 5 has over 482 million YouTube views and 557 million Spotify streams.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver placed fourth with a 41.4 total score. The country music classic has been adopted as the unofficial anthem of Manchester United fans, and you can regularly hear the Old Trafford faithful belting it out in unison before games.
In comparison, Liverpool’s famous anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, originally sung by local band Gerry and the Pacemakers, could only rank at 16th, with a total score of 32.8. The song is also a crowd favourite for fans of Borussia Dortmund and Celtic.
In fifth place with a 38.4 total score is, of course, “Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)” by The Lightning Seeds with Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. The song was released in support of the England football team’s participation in the Euro 1996 tournament. The song peaked at number one in the UK charts at the time, and still receives an average search volume of 20,000 searches per month.
“Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)” was found to be the most popular song associated with the England national team, beating Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” at 8th (36.8), and Atomic Kitten’s “Whole Again” at 15th (33.7). Elsewhere, other England football chants such as “Vindaloo” by Fat Les (19.6) and “World in Motion” by New Order (18.4) could only rank 29th and 31st respectively.
There are plenty more popular fan chants heard on the terraces up and down the country, but the origin of some of these well-known chants might surprise even the most dedicated football supporters.
Have you ever heard football fans direct the chant “You’re getting sacked in the morning” at a down-on-their-luck manager? That particular melody comes from Cuban singer Compay Segundo’s track “Guajira Guantanamera” (17.4), which ranked 32nd in our findings.
Verdi’s opera song “La Donna e Mobile” – later popularised by Pavarotti – has also become an unlikely football anthem. The melody takes a variety of lyrical forms, but one of the most commonly heard variations is “We’ve got more fans than you”. The song earned a total score of 15.9 and placed at a lowly 35th.
Super Sports Game Soundtracks: The most popular music from sports video games
Just like the sports themselves, sports video games can be a truly immersive experience, and as such require the perfect soundtrack to assure that each and every one of the gamer’s senses is alert while they play.
From football to basketball, skateboarding to wrestling, almost every major sport has been turned into a video game series, and each one of these video games comes with a carefully curated tracklist. But what is the most popular to have appeared in a sports video game?
At number one spot is “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd (NBA 2K21), with a remarkable total score of 49.2 out of 50. The UK number one single has been used as a sound 1.8 million times on TikTok, plus receives a very impressive 53,000 monthly online searches.
Wrestling has always provided some of the most popular video games, so it’s no surprise that those games have also perfected the art of the soundtrack. At number two in our list of popular sports video game songs is “Rockstar” by Post Malone ft. 21 Savage, which appeared on WWE 2K19. With over 1 billion YouTube views, the track received a total score of 48.6.
In third place is “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals (FIFA 21) with a 48.2 total score. The track got top marks in both Spotify streams (over 2.5 billion streams) and online search volume (59,000 monthly searches), plus reached number five in the UK singles chart in 2020.
Avicii’s “The Nights”, also from the FIFA series (FIFA 15) ranks fourth place with a 48.1 total score. The dance anthem has been used 2.8 million times on TikTok, and has also racked up 913 million views on YouTube.
Future and Drake’s hip-hop hit “Life is Good” completes the top five. The track appeared on Madden NFL 22 and received a 47.4 total score. The song has tallied up an astonishing 2.1 billion views on YouTube and peaked at number three in the UK singles charts.
Spotify streams play a big part in making a song popular in the digital age. The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” has received a mind-blowing 3.7 billion listens on the music-streaming platform, then Post Malone and 21 Savage’s “Rockstar” has racked up 2.7 billion streams, while Glass Animals’ “Heat Waves” has amassed over 2.5 billion streams.
Other songs to appear on video games that scored highly in our findings include Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Lif3” (WWE 2K20), which has the most YouTube views (5.1 billion) of any sports video game song, and earned a total score of 44.5 to place 14th. Meanwhile, “STAY” by The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber (NBA 2K22) received more TikTok uses (7.3 million) than any other sports video game song, to place 10th with a total score of 45.9.
Of the hundreds of songs factored into this study, only six reached number one in the UK charts. Those tracks were “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd (NBA 2K21), “Rockstar” by Post Malone ft. 21 Savage (WWE 2K19), “Love Me Again” by John Newman (FIFA 14), “Mercy” by Duffy (FIFA 09), “Pass Out” by Tinie Tempah (Madden NFL 12) and “Lyla” by Oasis (FIFA 06).
It’s hard to argue against the suggestion that football is the most popular sport in the UK. This is evidenced in FIFA 23 being not just the UK’s best-selling sports video game, but the best-selling overall video game in 2022, with an astonishing 2.53 million unit sales of the game sold. What’s more, FIFA 23’s predecessor, FIFA 22 was also the seventh-most popular game of the year 2022 (567,875 units sold).
Each year, FIFA’s iconic soundtrack is almost as highly anticipated as the game itself, but which songs from over two decades of the iconic football video game have proven to be the most popular?
The most popular song to ever feature on the FIFA games series is “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals (FIFA 21). The Oxford-based band’s smash hit received a near-perfect total score of 48.2 out of 50.
In second place is Avicii’s “The Nights” (FIFA 15), with a total score of 48.1 out of 50, this EDM classic from the legendary Swedish DJ has been proven to be the perfect soundtrack to a game of FIFA with friends.
Up next is “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons (FIFA 13) which earned a total score of 43.2 for a place in fourth spot. The song only peaked at number 34 in the UK singles charts, however, it has since racked up over 803 million Spotify streams.
Completing the top five is Central Cee’s “Obsessed With You” (FIFA 23) having received a total score of 42.8. The rapper has risen to be one of the biggest artists in the UK this year, so it is no surprise to see one of his tunes earn a spot as a Super Sports Games Soundtrack.
More classic FIFA songs to feature in the top ten include Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole” (FIFA 07) with a 42.3 total score, “Way Down We Go” by Kaleo (FIFA 16) with a 41.7 total score, and the indie anthem “Kids” by MGMT (FIFA 08) with a 41.2 total score.
Some more recent releases also made the top ten, with alt-pop icon Billie Eilish’s “You should see me in a crown” (FIFA 19) ranking ninth with a 40.7 total score, and grime newcomer ArrDee’s “Oliver Twist” (FIFA 22) completing the top ten with a 39.6 total score.
Super Sports Movie Soundtracks: The most popular songs used in sports movies
No movie is complete without a memorable soundtrack to go with it, and sports movies are no different. Whether the song is used in a terrific title sequence, or a magnificent montage, having the right music match with a key part of the movie truly elevates the viewing experience and helps the scene to stick in our minds long after the film is done.
As such, there are plenty of iconic songs that people associate specifically with sports movies, but which of these sports movie soundtracks were proven to be the most popular?
The most popular sports movie song is, of course, the iconic “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, which soundtracked the Oscar-winning Rocky III (1982). The song was written specifically for the movie, but has since taken on a life of its own, having earned over an enormous 457,500 uses on TikTok, contributing to a near-perfect total score of 49.6 out of 50.***
Up next is Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” which was used on the soundtrack of the women’s football movie, Gracie (2007). The song was a UK number-one hit when it was first released back in 1979, and has clearly stood the test of time with 420 million YouTube views. “Heart of Glass” received an excellent total score of 46.3 out of 50.
In third place with a total score of 42.1 is “Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera, which sports movie lovers will remember from the original The Karate Kid Part II (1986). Interestingly, the song was originally intended to be used in Rocky IV (1985) but was passed over by the film production company and instead found its place in The Karate Kid II.
Norman Greenbauch’s classic tune “Spirit in the Sky” was part of the Remember the Titans soundtrack and ranked as the fourth-most popular song from a sports movie, with an overall score of 41.2.
Meanwhile, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” placed fifth with a total score of 38.3 The song has appeared in a range of movies, but earns its place in this list as it was part of the soundtrack for the basketball movie, Blue Chips (1994).
Other popular songs from sports movies to feature in our findings included Jimmy Cliff’s iconic “I Can See Clearly Now” as heard in Cool Runnings (1993), which ranked seventh place (34.1). There’s also Vangelis’ legendary contribution to Chariots of Fire (1981), his song of the same name was found to be the ninth-most popular song (31.5) from a sports movie.
Super Sports TV Soundtracks: The most popular music from televised sport
Sitting down to watch a major sporting event from the comfort of your own sofa is simply one of life’s greatest pleasures, and no sports TV programme is complete without a catchy and memorable theme tune or title music.
Taking the prize of first place is “Beautiful Day” by U2, with a superb total score of 48.6 out of 50. Despite not appearing on our TV screens since 2004, the soundtrack to ITV’s Premier League highlights show remains incredibly popular with fans of music and sports in the UK. The Irish rock band’s track was UK number one, has an average monthly search volume of 7,800 searches, and has amassed 184 million views on YouTube.
In second place is “Makeba” by Jain, which is used to soundtrack Amazon Prime’s football coverage. The infectious pop track has earned over 207 million streams on Spotify, plus a remarkable 1.6 million uses on TikTok, all contributing to a total score of 43.7 out of 50.
Next up is “Written in the Stars” by Tinie Tempah ft. Eric Turner. The British rapper’s song was used as the title music for Sky Sports’ football coverage in the early 2010’s, and certainly whips up a feeling of nostalgia for more than a few more sports fans, with the song receiving a total score of 42.2.
Another Sky Sports football coverage title song ranks fourth in the shape of “The Time Is Now” by Moloko. The dancefloor filler peaked at number two in the charts back in 2000, and has received a 38.4 total score in our study.
In at fifth is Celeste’s “Stop This Flame”, which received a total score of 38.2. The catchy tune has served as the title music for Sky Sports’ Premier League coverage since the start of the 2020/21 season.
Other Sports TV Soundtracks to feature in our findings include Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” (37.6) in sixth place, which was used to soundtrack the BBC’s coverage of Formula One racing. There’s also Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think” (34.7) in ninth place, which appeared in Channel 4’s iconic coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics.
Not every sports TV programme opts to use a pop song. The highest-scoring sports TV theme tune was, of course, the Match of the Day theme tune. Originally created by Barry Stoller, the trumpet-led tune received a total score of 21.7 to rank as the 12th most popular Sports TV Soundtrack overall.
Ranking just behind the Match of the Day theme is Handel’s “Zadok the Priest”, more commonly known as the UEFA Champions League Anthem. This piece of classical music ranked as the 14th most popular Sports TV Soundtrack with an 18.3 total score.
There really is no one correct formula when it comes to pairing the perfect music with sports. From hip-hop to heavy metal, hot hits to hymns, songs from almost every genre of music have found a way to become associated with sport.
The relationship between music and sport is intrinsic and unpredictable, and ultimately it is up to each and every individual to pick their own super sports soundtrack… just be sure to include “Eye of the Tiger” in yours.
Having first established the five categories in which sports has a close relationship with music; songs used as entrance music by sports stars; songs that have been turned into fan chants; songs that have featured on sports video games; songs that have been featured on sports movies; songs that have been featured on sports TV programming, we located seed lists of songs that could be used for each of these categories.
The seed lists were gathered primarily from Spotify playlists, including the official playlists of EA Sports. Seed lists were also drawn from the following sources: The Bleacher Report; Fan Chants; Way of Martial Arts; Amplified Clothing; IMDb; Music For Sport; The Sound Architect; Wikipedia; ChatterSource; Red Bull.
With the seeds list drawn, five data points were established in order to test each song’s popularity. Those data points were the number of streams on Spotify, the number of views on YouTube, the number of times the song has been used as a sound on TikTok, the number of online searches the song receives per month on average in the UK, and where the song peaked in the UK singles charts.
All data taken from Spotify, YouTube, TikTok and AHREFs was correct between the dates Thursday 11th July 2023 and Friday 18th August 2023 when the data gathering production took place. Naturally, most of the streaming figures documented in this article will become increasingly incorrect as time goes on, since these figures will all go up with time and it is impossible to keep track and update all of them.
*Please note that the popularity of ‘walk-in songs’ was measured on the popularity of the song itself, and not on the song’s association with the sportsperson who uses it as entrance music.
**Please note that the popularity of ‘songs turned into fan chants’ was measured on the popularity of the song itself, and not on the song’s association with the sports team or fanbase that uses it as a chant.
***Please note that Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” received a different ‘total score’ in the ‘walk-in songs’ and ‘sports movie songs’ categories as the scores are calculated independently within their own category. While the data points remain the same, the data sets within each category differ, resulting in different total scores within each category.