To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its iconic sports anthem album series, ESPN beginning today will dedicate an entire week of content and storytelling around the music that defined a generation of arena songs and pop culture. ESPN is also introducing its new music playlist brand, “Hype Hits,” to fans leading to the return of live sports.
Front Row caught up with Kevin Wilson, ESPN Music Director, about his favorite songs from the original compilations and some of the songs included in “Hype Hits.”
For full coverage and access to the Hype Hits collection, visit ESPN.com/HypeHits.
What is “Hype Hits?”
Wilson: We wanted to create a brand capturing, reflecting and hopefully influencing a new generation of athletes and sports fans. Hype Hits is a collection of playlists presenting the best of the cross-section of music and sports. It’s those stadium anthems and pump-up jams that play a central role in sports and culture.
What are some of your favorite songs from the original album compilations?
“Unbelievable” by EMF
“Pump Up The Jam” by Technotronic
“The Power” by Snap!
“Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty by Nature
What are some of the songs you’re looking forward to from Hype Hits?
Wilson: There are many great songs in the Hype Hits playlists and no way to pick my favorites; I’m a fan of all music and have so much respect for artists and songwriters. But I highlighted some of the more recent songs that ESPN has featured in one way or another.
“WHAT’S POPPIN” by Jack Harlow
Wilson: How can you not pick a song that shouts out SportsCenter and is a Top 10 hit? I think that Jack and JestonMade are doing some fun stuff, and the song is super catchy. The hook at the top of the song instrumentally drags you in and gets you ready to move!
“Humble” by Kendrick Lamar
Wilson: Kendrick has been an incredible collaborator with ESPN. We were so fortunate to help debut this song to the world as part of fantastic NBA playoffs and Finals collaboration. That relationship led to him playing the first-ever halftime show performing “All The Stars” for the first time live. Kendrick is a super important artist and person and is immensely talented. Certainly, this is a Hype Hit as it makes you want to jump and put your fist in the air from the first note, and the lyrics are powerful.
“Mi Gente” by J Balvin
Wilson: This song has such a strong message and great energy. I’m so happy we were able to rock with this song on ESPN and that it’s in the playlist. Some hype hits just need to be fun and get you moving and this has it!
“WIN” by Jay Rock
Wilson: This song is just plain dope. Great lyrics, great beat; it’s perfect for sports and college football. We did a great shoot with Jay and this song for the College Football Playoffs two years ago. Jay also performed the song live on ESPN. A hype hit for sure, great college vibe and energy.
“Truth Hurts” by Lizzo
Wilson: Lizzo is the best! She’s so talented, and her songs just grab you. This is a hype hit for its confidence and energy, plus she shouts out the [Minnesota] Vikings. Lizzo did a fun Christmas song for us a couple of years back, and I hope we can continue to support her amazing career.