At The Players’ Tribune, we know that music and sports have always been great teammates. That’s why we’ve created Playlist, a series where we ask our contributors to look inside their phones, cars, workout mixes and whatever else — and share 10 songs they’ve had in heavy rotation.
Here with the latest Playlist is Titans running back (and Charli’s Angel) Bishop Sankey.
(Scroll to the bottom for a Spotify playlist with all of Bishop’s songs.)
1. “Champion,” Kanye West
My dad and I would go on drives a lot, growing up. It was this thing we did, one of our main bonding experiences. We would just ride around, and put on some music, and talk. We listened to a bunch of different stuff, but one of our mainstays was definitely early Kanye — those first three Kanye albums.
That’s my favorite Kanye era, I think. This might be a little controversial, but Graduation is the record for me. I mean, “Champion” was my soundtrack. I remember being a kid on the way to football practice, bumping “Champion” … and just feeling invincible. Kanye’s a true artist, but people forget how many great pump-up songs he’s put out, how many classic bangers. “Champion” is tackle-breaking music.
2. “Real,” Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick is probably my current favorite. I just love his sound and how he’s so creative with his message. And I like those beats he’s been into lately — those chill, jazzy kinds of beats. You see a lot of talented rappers coming up right now, but none are up to Kendrick’s caliber, in my opinion.
It’s hard to choose between To Pimp a Butterfly and good Kid, m.A.A.d city. The truth is, for me, they’re all part of a single artistic expression. Like, after listening to TPAB, I was feeling it so much that I went right back and listened to his other albums in order. And it was seamless. They could all be played together as one, big album. That’s cool, to me. It shows that Kendrick’s got a vision.
One song I’ve been vibing to lately is “Real,” off of good Kid, m.A.A.d city. I think it’s talking about the concept of self-love and how you can obtain a lot of things in this world — a lot of material possessions — but what does that even mean if you don’t have love for yourself, or self-pride, or dignity? That’s an important message, and no one takes an important message and combines it with a good song like Kendrick.
3. “Encore,” Cheryl Lynn
My dad used to play “Encore” all the time. That was Dad’s jam. He even used it on one of my Little League highlight tapes. When he did that, I was like, “Dad, why’re you putting this old-school song on my tape?” And he just kind of gave me this “dad look,” smiled, and kept it on. But I guess the highlight tapes worked — so maybe he knew what he was doing all along. I even like the song now, on my own. Listen: Dads are wise. They just know things.
4. “How to Save a Life,” The Fray
Back when alternative rock was still being played on the radio, I went through a pretty big phase with The Fray. That Fray album was really dope. “Trust Me,” “How to Save a Life,” and “You Found Me,” off their next album. The Fray had hits, man.
And they’re like Kendrick, where it’s a great sound and a great message, all wrapped into one. I bet I’m the first person to compare Kendrick and The Fray on here, but that’s cool. Gotta keep it eclectic.
5. “Follow You Down,” Zedd
I’ve gotten pretty into EDM recently. I first got into it in college, when I was at Washington, because my teammate Jesse Callier used to always listen to EDM in the locker room. At first I was like, “What are you listening to?” — but not in a good way. I wasn’t really feeling it. But then it kind of grew on me, the more and more I heard him play it. Eventually I was like, “Okay, this is kind of cool. I get it. I like the vibe.”
One of my go-to EDM songs is “Follow You Down” by Zedd. And I’ve also really been feeling Alesso — though I think the Alesso remixes are better than the stuff that’s played on the radio. That’s when you really know you’ve become an EDM head, I guess, when you become a remix snob. But it’s all good. I’ll still catch myself in the mirror belting out, “We could be heroooooooes.” I don’t hold back.
6. “Boom Clap,” Charli XCX
That’s my song. I wasn’t expecting to like it, but I love it. I don’t care who’s in the car with me — I’ll play it. I’ll be like, “Look man. It’s urgent. I’ve got to hear this.” It’s so catchy.
I think I first heard it when we were at some charity event with the Titans in our stadium. And they were playing it on the loudspeakers. And I was like, “Oh, wow, what’s this song?” But no one knew. So I was out there, like, frantically trying to listen to the lyrics so that I could type it into Google to find out. I hunted it down, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
7. “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” Soulja Boy
“Crank That” was super-popular when I was in the ninth grade, but it was the dance that really popped off the most. That dance was everything for a minute. I remember being in my living room, practicing it — with my siblings, with my stepbrother, with my friends. Like, it was homework. It was serious. And you had no choice: Literally every kid I knew back then knew how to do it — so if you wanted to stay relevant, you had to keep up.
And then I remember being at the freshman dance that year, everybody just so hyped, cranking that Soulja Boy. It was like doing it at home was practice, and then doing it at the dance was gameday. It was like, “Oh yes. I get to murder this right now. I’ve been practicing for so long. I’ve got all the steps down perfectly. Got my facial expressions down pat. This is the time where it all comes together.” It was showtime.