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Playlists: Let’s get Physical, Olympic Style

I don’t know about you, but every time the Olympics come around, I start rethinking my own workout regime. Every four years, (well every five thanks to corona!) the classic ‘I bet if I worked really hard, I could be an Olympian’ thought crosses through my head. Now–though I am a big believer of the ‘never-say-never’ mantra–I doubt you will catch me at the Olympics anytime soon; however, to commemorate my Olympic induced hysteria I have curated a playlist of my favourite ‘hype’ songs. 

10 songs for the 10 gold medals Team GB have won (so far!!)* in Tokyo 2020. I have even put them in the order that best reflects the emotional journey I take on every workout (what a bonus!). Because sport isn’t just about physical strength, these are also songs that will absolutely strengthen your mental resolve, your confidence in your ability, your inner ‘oomph’. Get ready to feel like an Olympian for the next 43 minutes…

*disclaimer, this article was written at 4pm on Sunday 1st August – please don’t attack me if by the time you are reading this GB have won more medals; equally if we win no more don’t say I jinxed it, I would never forgive myself.

Paint it Black- Ramin Djawadi, Westworld (season 1)

Little bit of hype: That moment when it just, well, it goes crazy at 2.08

Now, this a song which has already got the Olympic seal of approval. The eagle-eared Westworld fans may have noticed that the Russian Gymnast Vladislava Urazova used it for her incredible floor routine in the all-around Tokyo finals. I am obsessed with the way this song builds into a climax, it has enough drama to make you feel like the main character – whether training alone or in a packed gym (or imagining you are a cowboy robbing a saloon, no judgement). I really cannot think of a better way to start off my workout. 

Everyday – Bon Jovi, Bounce

Oomph moment: the chorus every time, the first one is at 0.40

For that moment after a warm-up when you just want to explode out those metaphorical blocks and get going. Perennially underscored by those iconic ‘woah, woahs’ that you only get in a Bon Jovi song (think the opening to ‘Living on a Prayer’, the first chord of ‘It’s My Life’), it sets a beat that just doesn’t let up, making you feel accomplished and strong by the end. Yes, it’s fast, but so are you!

It’s a Sin – Elton John & Years and Years

Push faster with Elton John at 1.22

So, after hitting it hard with Bon Jovi, you might find yourself needing a little moment to recompose and focus on where exactly you are going. Olly Alexander offers such a respite in the emotional opening to his cover of the Pet Shop Boy’s iconic ‘It’s a Sin’. Take that rest and be ready to push again when Elton John enters the scene. Fun fact: I once got told off in Buzz Gym for singing this song when on a treadmill…please learn from my terrible mistake and sing even louder. 

Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky remix) – Miley Cyrus ft. Stevie Nicks, Plastic Hearts

Ultimate hype moment: it just has to be the beginning (00.00), nothing beats the opening of ‘Edge of Seventeen’ literally nothing. 

From one modern reworking of an 80s classic to another. The beat is quite a bit faster than ‘It’s a Sin’, not Bon Jovi fast, but still relatively quick. That’s okay, you won’t notice how hard you are pushing yourself; you’ll be too busy singing alone to this match made in musical heaven. Miley Cyrus x Stevie Nicks? Thank you hype playlist Gods!

Princess of China – Coldplay ft. Rihanna

‘Let’s go!’ moment: Hello Rihanna! (1.19)

The beat here is virtually the same as MileyxStevie, so you can begin to settle into the rhythm of your workout. To me, this song embodies the Olympic energy because it takes me straight back to London 2012, a.k.a one of the greatest UK summers ever! When I’m working out, I like to imagine that I am half as cool as Rihanna entering the Olympic Stadium on a high wire. I know I’m not–because I am writing an article on workout playlists and not selling out stadium tours–but a girl can dream. 

Feel the Love – Rudimental ft. John Newman

Single bit of hype: I mean the whole song is one immaculate vibe after another, but if I had to pick a single ‘hype’ moment it would be the beat drop at 1.03

We are up to that sticky middle bit, that moment we all get when we start contemplating if we would rather just be eating G&Ds and watching Netflix than crushing it in a gym. Now, while I endorse both activities, my ice-cream tastes so much sweeter after a sweat-sesh (yes, I am aware that I am strange). How do I push through that middle moment of pain I hear you ask? Well, I distract myself with music induced ‘hype’. Rudimental’s ‘Feel the Love’ never fails to provide this much-needed mid-workout energy. The song is just everything. The beat, the way it builds, that saxophone solo…wow. 

Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd

‘Yesss let’s go’ moment: ‘won’t you fly hard free bird yeah …GUITAR SOLO!’ 4.56

The perfect song for a half-time reset. For the first half I like to just slow the pace a bit, gather my thoughts and prepare my (now achy) body for what’s to come. It’s a good job I spent that time prepping and preening, because the second half of this song is absolutely crazy. Fun fact: it’s such an insane solo because it has two lead guitars, so I guess it’s not actually a solo at all? Oh well, all that matters is that two guitars = twice the work for me in the gym! (yay)

When You Were Young – The Killers, Sam’s Town

Workout power moment: ‘can we climb this mountain? I don’t know. Higher now than ever before’ (0.49) 

^^ I think this is a sentiment, metaphorical or not, we have all felt. Whether this mountain relates to my workout or just my life, this song never fails to convince me that getting to the top is possible. Even if it takes a bit longer than I initially expected. 

There’s a good reason these tables are numbered honey, you just haven’t thought of it yet– Panic! At the Disco, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

Feel the hype at that moment when you stop in your tracks and sing ‘everything goes according to plan’ at 0.41

I am insanely in love with Panic! However, I get sick of apple-music algorithm generated workout playlists just using ‘High Hopes’ or, if they are feeling extra spicy, ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’. Yes, this song has an insanely long title that I will never remember, but the hype it always generates is a sensation I will never find myself forgetting. At least for the 3minutes 17 seconds you too can feel like ‘everything’ IS indeed going ‘according to plan’. You made it to the gym/yoga mat/running road/whatever, you’ve done something right.  

Power – Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Little piece of power at: 3.18 onwards, when you think it’s over but really you have one more push

We had to finish with a classic. A staple of the hype playlist from the very beginning…they probably listened to it way back on Mount Olympus when the Olympics began. It doesn’t need an introduction, it doesn’t need a conclusion, its energy is too incredible to be badly summarised by me.   

Cheeky cool down: The Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby and the Range, The Way it is

At least when collapsing into a heap of sweaty success you can listen to one of the most beautiful and feel-good piano solos of all time. Yes, I probably missed a trick not concluding with ‘Chariots of Fire’ but I’m just sick of running in slow motion…