How Fall Out Boy Became Jock Jam All-Stars
Pete Wentz is rarely at a loss for words – just look at some of those old Fall Out Boy song titles for proof. But ask him about the band’s unlikely ascendance to the top of arena playlists around the country, and he struggles to find an explanation.
“It’s not a very predictable course, that’s for sure. If this was a biopic, it would not seem very believable,” he laughs. “The guys in the girl jeans with the guyliner – now they write songs for sports teams!”
It may sound hard to believe, but there’s no denying that Fall Out Boy have become the go-to guys for sports-broadcast soundtracks and stadium-approved anthems (“Jock Jams,” in layman’s terms). In 2013, their comeback single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” showed up in broadcasts of the NBA and NHL playoffs, driver intros for NASCAR races, NFL Monday Night Football montages and MLB postseason promos. Last year, their track “Centuries” was chosen by ESPN to be the theme for its coverage of the inaugural College Football Playoff, and, as anyone who watched even a moment of the games can attest, the Worldwide Leader certainly got its money’s worth, squeezing the song within an inch of its Suzanne Vega-sampling life.
In between, Fall Out Boy have reaped the benefits – both songs became staples at sporting events across the country and rose into the upper reaches of Billboard‘s Hot 100 singles chart – and proved to be willing accomplices, performing at the NBA Slam Dunk contest, NHL All-Star Game and NFL’s Pro Bowl. This Friday, they’ll take the stage at the league’s annual pre-Super Bowl concert in Glendale, Arizona.
In short, the relationship between the band and the sports world has become a symbiotic one; though that doesn’t make it any less weird.
“To be honest, it became kind of strange when you’d be watching sports, and you’d hear one of our songs, or my dad would be like ‘Yep, they played you at the Northwestern game,'” Wentz says. “But you can’t keep going back to the Seventies for stadium music. At some point there has to be something else.
“For a band like us, when we’re going after Top 40 radio, honestly, the lane does not exist. There’s one, maybe one-and-a-half other bands on pop radio, so we needed to find other ways to infiltrate,” he continues. “So when ESPN is like, ‘We’re doing the College Football Playoff,’ I’m all for it. We want to write songs that could get played in arenas and stadiums, because we could play there. And it just so happens that other things happen there, too. Like sports.”