Repost Disclaimer: Children of the Nineties is, weather permitting, in transit to much-awaited New Year's Eve celebrations. In the meantime, please enjoy a pre-scheduled classic CotN repost from earlier this year. As I only had three or four readers at the time, it's probably (okay, almost definitely) new to you.
It only occurs to me now that the Jock Jams music series was in some way related to athletics in a "pump-you-up" sort of way. We all just accepted that the series was called "Jock Jams;" for years I thought it was a legitimate category of music. There was punk, top 40, rock, grunge, adult alternative, and Jock Jams.
Jock Jams was certainly unrelenting in its commitment to providing a singular type of music. Tack listings featured such non-sensically titled classics as "Whoomp! There it is!" "Boom, Boom, Boom" "Da' Dip" and "Tubthumping." Obviously, using words found in the dictionary was not a requirement for admission to Jock Jams stardom. If you could verbalize some sort of grunting sound and write a song about it, you were in. Pump-up themes were also prevalent and pervasive. The first volume featured a staggering 3 songs with the phrase "pump it up!" in their titles. There was no question this franchise was churning out upbeat tunes, as evidenced by a whopping 11 uses of the word "up" in song titles alone in the five Jock Jams albums.
These compliation CDs featured more than just music, though it was their main jock-inspiring focus. Jock Jams also included some spoken and/or chanted tracks full of strangely taunting remarks, often with vengeful undertones. These short tracks were cleverly faded into the next song, with little or no delay between tracks. Assumedly, this was to keep the jocks jamming uninterruptedly. There's nothing a jamming jock despises more than a two second pause between tracks. What sort of a bench press soundtrack would this be if lifters were forced to endure a one-second silence? How would they possibly build up the motivation to increase their muscular capacity if involuntarily subjected to quietude? How, I ask you?
Although the album covers declared the compilations to be presented by the distinctly athletic ESPN, in reality, these supposed "jock" jams were directed more at a teenybopper slash dance club crowd than their eponymous sportsmen demographic. In this sense, the spoken tracks were possibly misdirected with their vindictive themes. A bunch of 12-year olds chanting, "Hey, hey, you! Get out of our way because today is the day we will put you away!" is a tad more disconcerting and less appropriate than say, a football team delivering the same unsportmanlike message. Regardless of their out-of-placedness among the actual consumers, the spoken tracks had a certain charm to them that uniquely characterized the albums.
The most recognizable was of course the classic intro to the original Jock Jams (volume one) was the infamous boxing announcer Michael Buffer's trademarked phrase, "Let's get ready to ruuuuuumble!" Listeners were indeed, ready to rumble, possibly not in a punch-you-out fashion but at the very least in a 90s dance-club rump-shaking manner.
Jock Jams actually had listed tracks attributed to their very own Jock Jams cheerleaders, presumably those pictured on their various album covers. Though it was never made clear exactly what the prerequisites for Jock Jam cheerleaderdom were, we can only assume that the audition process required a yelling/spelling combo exam.
"Alright girls, all 28 of you have passed the shouting test, great work. Unfortunately, only 3 of you passed the spelling portion of the tryout. For those of you who spelled 'action' a-c-k-s-h-u-n, better luck next year trying out for volume 3 when we'll be asking you to incorrectly spell the word 'rowdy' with an 'i-e'." (Note: there is indeed a track on Jock Jams Volume 3 entitled "R.O.W.D.I.E". Check out the track listing for yourself if you have any remaining incredulity about the ridiculousness of these anthologies.)
These CDs included many of our favorite standard 90s upbeat tracks like the Macarena and the Space Jam theme, but also had some odd remixes thrown in for good measure. I'd been meaning to remix the Mexican Hat Dance for awhile now, but the good people at Jock Jams beat me to it. I also played around with the idea of turning "If You're Happy and You Know It" into a rockin' club jam, but again Jock Jams had clearer foresight than I. Did I mention I've always loved when they play the Chicken Dance at classy church-basement weddings...aw, come on, Jock Jams! You've got to be kidding me. That too? What won't you remix? It's obviously back to the drawing board for me.
The 1990s were famous for megamixing everything. We could never be satisfied with just mixing. Even supermixing seemed too tame for our extreme 90s music tastes. No, it was was megamix or nothing. Megamixing was the fine-tuned art of taking approximately one line from every song, in this case from a single compilation album, and mixing them into a something that even the most attention-deficit nineties child could attend to.
"We've tried mixing it...but could we megamix it? Our demographic prefers to listen to their favorite songs in snippets, people!"
I'll admit it is catchy. While the Jock Jams franchise was not creative by any means, you have to admire them for holding out all these years with their initial premise. The CDs were wildly popular and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. No 6th grade basketball tournament would be complete without a pre-game layup show set to some variation of the megamix. Jocks or not, children of the 90s reveled in the eardrum-shattering flavor of these CDs.
So go ahead, children of the 90s. Pop a Jock Jams the boombox, crack open a bottle of Surge, zip up that Starter Jacket, and get ready to rumble.