Songs for the Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

Music Lists

Now that the Olympics are officially underway in London, there will be certain songs that will be inescapable as the world’s finest athletes show their stuff. “Bugler’s Dream,” the Olympic anthem,, will blare from TV screens across the globe on a daily basis, and if those triumphant timpani parts aren’t enough to stir up a little competitive spirit, the countries whose sports stars prove victorious will, of course, be rewarded with the chance to hear their national anthem play as they stand atop that coveted podium.

It probably goes without saying, but we are not Olympic athletes here at Paste. We’re big fans though, and we’ve all got our own dreams of glory. While we’ll never know what it feels like to have that gold medal placed around our necks, we’ve all experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat at some point or another. Here are our picks to soundtrack Team USA’s adventures across the pond.

The Thrill of Victory

The Chariots of Fire theme
We’ve already had a taste of this one in the Games, with Mr. Bean’s Opening Ceremonies performance as a bored keyboardist, and it’s no wonder why: no matter how many times we hear this one, we always feel compelled to stop whatever we’re doing and begin miming it in slow motion.

Jay-Z, “On to the Next One”
Pretty much all of Watch the Throne (his collaboration with Kanye West, whose catalog also lends itself to post-victory boasting well) could have made this list, but this Blueprint 3 track is perfect for when you’ve advanced to the next round of competition.

Sly and the Family Stone, “You Can Make it If You Try”
Words of encouragement from these funk icons make us feel capable of anything.

The Black Keys, “Gold on the Ceiling”
We’ve got a hunch we’ll be hearing this one a bit during Olympics coverage.

LCD Soundsystem, “Yeah”
Celebrations don’t always have to be eloquent. Sometimes when we come out on top, all we wanna do is dance and sing along to this song: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.”

Geto Boys, “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta”
Perhaps forever linked to the glorious Office Space montage it soundtracks, this one’s great for reveling in life’s small victories, whatever they may be.

Simple Minds, “Don’t You Forget About Me”
The Olympics are all about unity, as we come together and celebrate our differences (before squashing one another with some friendly competition). What’s more fitting, then, than this track from The Breakfast Club? Sure, it’s not specifically about winning, but would you really dream of listening to anything else when raising your fist in triumph

Queen’s entire catalog
“We Are The Champions” is the obvious choice here (and rightfully so), but tracks like “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” are equally inspired. There’s a reason a Wayne’s World clip found its way into last night’s Opening Ceremonies—nothing screams “we did it!” quite like Freddie Mercury’s majestic voice.

The Agony of Defeat

Beck, “Loser”
Goes without saying.

Charles Bradley, “Why Is It So Hard”
Bradley’s mournful vocals raise a simple question we’ve undoubtedly all asked ourselves at one point or another when faced with defeat.

R.E.M., “Everybody Hurts”
This classic, mopey Automatic for the People track offers some words of encouragement to those of us who’ve seen better days: “Don’t let yourself go, everybody cries.”

Yeasayer, “Ambling Alp”
The advice to “stick up for yourself, son, never mind what anybody else done” is a reminder to focus on your own accomplishments. Hey, so you didn’t medal and your badminton dreams are now crushed. You tried your best, and that’s what counts.

The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
As Max Blau wrote when we declared this our favorite Rolling Stones song, this Let it Bleed track “instills hope when there’s despair, faith when there’s doubt.”

Green Day, “Nice Guys Finish Last”
You didn’t win the race, but at least you’re not a jerk.

Elvis Costello, “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”
Don’t sweat it, Elvis. Maybe the balance beam’s not your thing.

Laura Marling, “Failure”
Marling chronicles the trials and tribulations of a guy who used to be the life of the party before soothing him with lines like, “don’t cry, child, you’ve got so much more to live for.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin