As part of “What It? Week” at SBNation, Outsports attempts to answer the question: “What if Queen never existed to produce the greatest arena rock anthems of all time?” In this alternate universe, all Queen hits are replaced in popular culture by the songs that immediately followed them on the Billboard charts.
Quite simply, it would change the face of sports as we know it. Here are just a couple scenarios:
With 26 seconds to go in Super Bowl XLIX, the New England Patriots are clinging to a 28-24 lead. But the Seattle Seahawks are driving — it’s second and goal to go with the ball on the one yard line.
In an effort to fire up the defense, the University of Phoenix Stadium sound system cranks the volume on the stadium anthem voted the Greatest Jock Jam in History: the number four song in the nation from February 18, 1978. The crowd of 70 thousand howling football fans rises to their feet, STOMP-STOMP-CLAPPING along to the unmistakable intro that’s played at every major sporting event in the country.
As Russell Wilson approaches the line of scrimmage, the entirety of Patriots Nation joins as one to sing:
“Sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide...”
Wilson takes the snap and shocks the NFL world by dropping back to pass. He spies open wide receiver Ricardo Lockette. But just when he releases the fateful throw, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler closes in on Lockette and as the ball arrives at its intended target...
Butler collapses to the ground in tears, sobbing and wailing, “I want to hold you ‘til I die! ‘Til we both break down and cry!” Lockette breezes into the end zone with the game winning touchdown as the Patriots dynasty ends once and for all.
When asked what he told his stunned team in the locker room, Bill Belichick pauses for ten seconds and wistfully sighs, “I want to hold you ‘til the fear in me subsides.”
He is immediately fired.
After stealing the ball from Karl Malone, driving the length of the court, and nailing the championship-clinching jumper from the top of the key, Michael Jordan is basking in the glow of the Chicago Bulls’ sixth NBA title in eight years.
While the stunned crowd in Salt Lake City files out, Jordan charges into the visiting team locker room and commands the clubhouse staff to play the song that has accompanied every Bulls win since their championship run began in 1991. Indeed, each time another opponent bites the dust as the clock hits :00, the United Center PA blares the thumping bassline from the number one song of October 4, 1980.
With champagne spraying all over, the Larry O’Brien Trophy in one hand, and a victory cigar in the other, Jordan leads his joyful teammates in the Bulls victory song:
“I’m all out of love,
I’m so lost without you,
I know you were right
Believing for so long...”
The strings kick in while Dennis Rodman sings, “And what would you say if I called on you now and said that I can’t hold on,” and an emotional Jordan becomes visibly moved. With tears streaming down his face, he approaches each teammate in the celebration and wails, “I’m sorry for punching you in the face...”
This goes on for ten minutes.
Finally, he can take no more. As the song reaches its crescendo to the final “I can’t be too late to say that I was so wrong,” Jordan wraps his arms around Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause and vows, “Let’s never fight again...”
Jordan immediately withdraws his plans to retire and the Bulls proceed to win the next seven consecutive NBA championships. Twenty two years later, the embrace between Jordan and Krause inspired by an Air Supply ballad becomes the focal point of a record-setting documentary entitled The Last Dance.