Penn’s student-athletes might be able to lift heavier weights and run faster than most, but they do their hard work on and off their respective playing surfaces to the same tune as everyone else.
Whether it’s electronic dance music – EDM, for short – to get the blood flowing or a slow song to mourn a tough loss, music serves a multitude of purposes for athletes at Penn. There are songs and genres that transcend sport boundaries and listening habits that are more team-specific.
Penn men’s basketball senior guard Tyler Hamilton used to share the highly esteemed “aux cord” with former player Darnell Foreman, but once Foreman graduated, Hamilton found himself with the responsibility to DJ for his team.
“Once Darnell left, I guess the torch was passed down to me, but sometimes the younger guys like [sophomores] Eddie [Scott] and Jarrod [Simmons] will get in on it,” Hamilton said. “People trust my music choices.”
What do those choices include?
“Going to school in Philly, you have to love Meek [Mill], so this year it’s been a lot of ‘Going Bad,’ and last year it was ‘Dreams and Nightmares,’” Hamilton said. “We’re really heavy into rap. Especially before the game it gets us pretty hyped up.”
Penn Athletics’ Assistant Director of Marketing, Emily Jakimowicz, who handles teams’ music requests in addition to her other responsibilities, confirmed all that Hamilton had to say.
“[Basketball has] a lot of Meek Mill on [their playlist], especially with his new album coming out at the beginning of the season,” she said. “[They’re] definitely heavy on the rap and hip-hop.”
As for the future, Hamilton, a senior, has a decision to make regarding the next musical torch-bearer for men’s basketball. While he predicts that senior guards Jake Silpe and Jackson Donahue will pass along their affinity for EDM to junior forward AJ Brodeur, Hamilton wants to make sure that the aux cord remains in good hands.
“I think I’m going to have to pass it down to [junior guard] Devon [Goodman]. Dev has a lot of good music choices.”
EDM might not be the favorite of men’s basketball, but it dominates the women’s tennis soundtrack.
Senior OJ Singh, who is also a staffer for the Daily Pennsylvanian, has been in charge of music since her freshman year, when a senior’s phone died and Singh’s saved songs on Spotify came to serve as a makeshift warmup playlist. Now in her fourth year with the team’s aux cord, Singh has four different playlists to show for it. The most recent, which is titled “#4,” ranges from David Guetta and Kygo to Toto and J. Cole.
EDM with a few words sprinkled in rules at the moment, but Singh knows that someone new will have to take the reins after her graduation. She thinks that someone could be sophomore Marija Curnic, who hails from Croatia.
Curnic is one of four members of the team who are not American; the other six are from California and Florida. That international diversity brings a broad range of music tastes to the group.
“I definitely think there’s a huge difference between [our music and that of other teams]," Curnic said. “Especially with driving to a match somewhere else, we’re in a van and we have a lot of variety.”
That variety includes Eastern European DJs, Russian rap, and Spanish dance tracks. With regard to the power of any genre, artist, or song to bring good or bad luck to the team, one artist has been outlawed because of poor on-court results.
“I would say that last year, our go-to was Pitbull,” Curnic said. “Since it wasn’t the best year, we cut him off.”
Formerly beloved, Pitbull’s “International Love” has been replaced by Travis Scott, Meek Mill, and Cardi B as preferred background noise for warmups and celebrations.
While women’s tennis can show off the long list of countries from which its favorite music comes, women’s lacrosse points to the extensive selection of genres it enjoys for workouts and warmups alike.
Junior defender Chelsea Kibler, who is in charge of workout music — captains handle pregame playlists – couples her own favorites with suggestions from the team, which include EDM, Rock ‘N Roll, and hip-hop. The type of music that she plays varies depending on the day and activity.
“In the fall, we do a lot of long runs and lifting, so for runs we like EDM like Bastille, Galantis, and The Chainsmokers,” Kibler said. “Our team loves ‘Heads Will Roll’ by A-Trak [and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs]. Anything by Avicii is a go.”
While women’s tennis has ditched its Pitbull-associated misfortune, Kibler noted that women’s lacrosse actually has a good luck song in Penn alumnus Izer’s “Got This (Prod. BlackDiamondMusic)."
“[It’s] a funny good luck song that we have,” Kibler said. “Our team loves that song.”
Athletes, who may tower over or sprint by their fellow students at Penn, use music for the same reasons as anyone else. They get pumped up with Lil Wayne’s “Uproar,” they focus with Galantis’ “Runaway,” and they celebrate with Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On.” They have Throwback Thursdays and mix ABBA’s greatest hits with Louis the Child’s latest EPs. They even cry to Coldplay.