Pump It Up

The winning playlist in's Tune-Up contest sets a breakneck pace for your next race.

October 21, 2008| |**Dick Dale’s “Nitro” propelled laserd8’s playlist to the top of the pack in SW‘s Tune-Up contest. **| Everyone knows you can’t quantify music, let alone musical taste. So when I summoned SW editors Dave Reed and Stuart Streuli to the conference room to help judge the Tune-Up contest, which asked readers to submit their favorite pre-race playlists for a chance to win Oakley Thump Pro sunglasses, I knew we were in for a challenge.

I mean, how do you compare Whitesnake to James Blunt? (Steel cage match, perhaps?) Who’s to say that listening to a Schubert piano composition is a better way to prepare for a race than by pumping a heretical anthem by Tool? There is no empirical method for evaluating people’s musical preferences, which is why the three of us just sat down in front of an iTunes-equipped computer, listened to all the playlists, then argued for our personal favorites.

I vetoed any playlist containing Jimmy Buffett (not a fan), Dave trumpeted the cause of the SoCal punks, and Stu threw his rhetorical skills behind his boyhood idols, Kiss. Among the 50-odd playlists submitted, the most frequent songs were “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, and “Click Click Boom” by Saliva. Listening to all the songs, we discovered a number of new favorites, like “Death Machine” by Fiction Plane, “Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnson, and “Princess of the Night” by Saxon, a glorious heavy metal quintet that somehow manages to out Spinal-Tap Spinal Tap.


On the next page you’ll see our top-five playlists, determined through careful examination, thorough discussion, and good old fashioned editorial bias.

First Place

Submitted by laserd8


Surfing with the Alien” – Joe Satriani
Nitro” – Dick Dale
Nice Guys Finish Last” – Green Day
Blitzkrieg Bop” – The Ramones
Pump It Up” – Elvis Costello

Judges’ comments:

“There are no weak links in this playlist, which has a fast, rebellious theme. It starts out with two ferocious guitar instrumentals, then finishes in style with the Ramones and Elvis Costello.” – Michael Lovett


“Variety wasn’t necessarily a strong suit here–and I was really looking for a lot of that, it’s easy to pick your favorite five songs from one genre–but the songs on this list are ones that any fan of rock ‘n’ roll should like. And they’re not overplayed, which means when you’re singing the chorus of one of them all the way up the first beat, you won’t go insane.” – Stuart Streuli

“I’d never heard ‘Nitro’ before, but seconds into this tune, I had myself a new favorite. It just makes me want to rig my Laser on a 30-knot day and go on a tear. Same goes for Satriani’s ‘Surfing with the Alien.’ Definitely a high-energy playlist with a great blend of musicians from the past and present.” – Dave Reed

Second Place


Submitted by pjdpub

Rise” – Public Image Ltd.
Someday I Suppose” – Mighty Mighty Bosstones
A Little Less Conversation” (Remix) – Elvis Presley/JXL
Hang Fire” – The Rolling Stones
You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC

“I really liked the mix here. ‘Hang Fire’ is a greatly underrated Stones tune. I might swap the order, playing ‘Conversation’ before the Ska of the Bosstones. But I heartily endorse Angus and the boys to close out any 5-song set.” – Stuart Streuli

“Back in Black was my first album as a kid, so the AC/DC addition to pjdpub’s playlist gave it instant cred. While I can give or take Mick Jagger and the gang, ‘Hang Fire’ is a killer song to get things rolling. Punt out the Elvis Presley/JXL and swap in something with a bit more power, say N.W.A.’s ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ and this list would have been knocking on laserd8’s door.” – Dave Reed

Third Place (Tie)

Submitted by turtle1895

Paradise by the Dashboard Light” – Meat Loaf
Fat Bottomed Girls” – Queen
Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Call Me the Breeze” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Hit the Road Jack” – Ray Charles

Judges’ comments:

“Did you know that ‘Hit the Road Jack’ was written as a tribute to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road? Me neither. Gotta love Wikipedia.” – Michael Lovett

“I don’t consider myself much of a classic-rock type, but this playlist had it all going: good start, happy tunes, and a fitting end. Would definitely get me pumped.” – Dave Reed

Submitted by jakekohl

Death Machine” – Fiction Plane
King of the Stereo” – Saliva
To Victory” – Tyler Bates
Lepcis Magna” – E.S. Posthumus
Higher Ground” – Stevie Wonder

Judges’ comments:

“That song ‘Death Machine’ has an awesome backbeat. It’s definitely going on my next playlist.” – Michael Lovett

“Loved the inclusion of two classical pieces. Seeing this list made me re-think what else I could include in my five-song list and I came up with Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ from his Ninth Symphony. The Saliva tune was the low-point of this set, but more than balanced by the inclusion of Stevie Wonder’s funk staple.” – Stuart Streuli

“This one got no votes from me. Good choice with the Stevie Wonder hit, but I’ll take the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s version over Stevie’s any day.” – Dave Reed

Fifth Place

Submitted by cormoran

Somewhere Beyond the Sea” – Frank Sinatra
Janie’s Got a Gun” – Aerosmith
Princess of the Night” – Saxon
Irvi” – Hans Zimmer
Impromptu, OP 90, No. 3” – Schubert

Judges’ comments:

“I can’t believe I’ve lived 27 years without experiencing Saxon. This band’s amps definitely go to 11. They’ve got the good looks of Motorhead and the sound of Iron Maiden. Excellent!” – Michael Lovett

“This is an impressive journey, five songs that take you from Sinatra to Saxon to Schubert. But I think it reaches too far. And ‘Janie’s Got a Gun,’ a song about a daughter killing her sexually-abusive father, doesn’t quite cut it in terms of motivation. But hey, that’s just my opinion.” – Stuart Streuli

“No, no, no, no, no. Did I say no?” -Dave Reed

The Judges’ Lists

It’s only fair that since we spent so much time critiquing other people’s lists, we should throw our own up for review.

Dave Reed, editor

I might start my rigging mellow, but I’ll definitely switch up in to this before hitting the water.

1. “Let There Be Rock” – AC/DC
2. “Revival” – Reverend Horton Heat
3. “Song for the Dead” – Queens of the Stone Age
4. “Master of Puppets” – Metallica
5 “Turn it Again” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Stuart Streuli, senior editor

1. “Fourth Movement, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, version TBD, but there are plenty of rousing orchestral versions of this classical classic.
2. “My Old School” – Steely Dan
3. “Tight” – Stockholm Syndrome
4. “Can’t Stop” – Red Hot Chili Peppers (If it was good enough for Alinghi in 2007, it’s good enough for me)
5. “It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock ‘n’ Roll” – AC/DC

Michael Lovett, web editor

1. “1,000,000” – Nine Inch Nails
2. “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” – The Rolling Stones
3. “Four Kicks” – Kings of Leon
4. “Down Rodeo” – Rage Against the Machine
5. “Lemonade” – Blind Melon

To view the forums thread containing all playlists submitted, click here.


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