Fan voting ends tomorrow for the “SportsCenter Fan Jam” competition, whose winner earns the right to visit ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters for a day and be the show’s house band. The winner will be revealed when they play their version of the theme live on SportsCenter sometime next week. More information will follow on Facebook and the SC Twitter account.
The two finalists offer distinctive twists on the iconic “Da Da Da! Da Da Da!” theme.
In one corner we have traditional South Korean musician Luna Lee, a graduate from the Korean National University of Arts. She has played the 20 and 25-string gayageum, an instrument used for royal court music, since she was a youngster.
In the other corner we have rock climber Trace Bundy from Austin, Minn., the home of SPAM. Now a Boulder, Colo. resident, Bundy got his first guitar at the age of 12 when he and his brother “went halvsies” on a $10 purchase “from a guy named Herbie.”
“We wanted to have artists from all genres and styles who could really put a great twist on our theme song,” said Kevin Wilson, ESPN’s music director. “All the artists did an amazing job. I could not have been happier.”
“There was a good variety of people, heavy metal, piano, beat box and cellist, and that crazy traditional instrument [Luna’s gayageum],” Bundy said.
Lee’s following extends from South Korea to the United States, buoyed here by performances last month in California and via the Internet – her version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” has nearly 3 million views on YouTube.
“I am not a huge fan of sports, but I often watch baseball games. And I watched the Winter Olympics — I am a huge fan of Yuna Kim [South Koren figure skater],” she said. “Personally, I don’t like competition, so I hesitated before I participated in this, but now I think I made a good decision because I got to know musicians like Trace Bundy. If I win, I can’t wait to show my music to sports fans. Many Americans are not familiar with gayageum, so they think it is weird at first, but if I can play at ESPN, I hope everyone can enjoy.”
Bundy also has an international following and, coincidentally, has performed in South Korea several times. He has invited young South Korean guitarist Sungha Jung to accompany him on an upcoming West Coast tour. Bundy also recently accepted an invitation to play in Transylvania, Romania, and his “Fan Jam” entry has attracted global attention, he said: “I just got an email from a guy in China who says, ‘I’m voting for you’.”
“We have received a lot of positive feedback from fans, and are thrilled to be able to offer something that’s different and unique,” said ESPN associate producer Robby Snyder. “We feel like it’s resonated with fans and the foundation has been developed for a contest that will only grow from here.”
Editor’s note: Read more about “Fan Jam” in The Hollywood Reporter.