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February 9, 2017

Turn left, tune in, drop out: Some thoughts on the music at the Armory

The 110th running of the Millrose Games are tomorrow. At its conclusion I will remove my human suit, shrivel back into the chrysalis and enter a restorative, trance-like state to ruminate on next year’s week of Millrose Content. But today is not that day, so here we are.

Already this week, I’ve discussed how to make the most of your pre- and post-Armory experience, as well as chronicled the building’s history in a post so long I’m certain nobody actually finished reading it. But why let the past and the future have all the fun? Let’s delve into something far more immediate and sensory — sound, to be precise!

One of the best parts about spectating a meet at the Armory is the high probability of an Ian Brooks appearance. He is a fantastic track & field announcer; as knowledgeable and eloquent as he is British. But, this is not a piece about him. (That said, everyone email us, and demand that Chris do an interview or story about him.) No, this is a piece in which I will harp on the music the Armory plays during many races.

On the opposite end of the good-bad continuum as it pertains to the Armory, is the possibility of the competitors entering the final kilometer of a grueling 3,000 meter race – right when they start to really dig – only to hear John Williams’ “Imperial March” start blaring over the loudspeakers…in its entirety and including, like, all the crescendos and rests. This sort of bizarre musical choice is commonplace there. I’ve personally raced to the theme song from the movie Halloween as well as the theme from Chariots of Fire, which at least makes sense contextually but is a terrible song to run to if you aren’t stuck in slow motion.

It’s not all bad, though (although, yes, it generally is all bad, and I forgot to mention “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses figures prominently into the rotation), it’s occasionally just vaguely sexual. Eric Prydz’s magnum opus, “Call on Me” (that song with the music video that is just gratuitous pelvis close-ups) is a staple, as is “Stereo Love” by Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina, which is good news for fans of especially bad dance music that features the accordion.

This is a blog post in its purest form and I make no attempt at anything resembling journalism or thoughtfulness here. It’s a classic think-piece, targeting cheap laughs and meant to pose the following questions to bored and content-saturated readers:

Who the heck is the Armory’s mysterious, presumably masked DJ? (Please let me interview you.)

If you pulled the data from every runner in America’s Spotify account, how many of the songs regularly played at the Armory would appear on even one playlist intended to motivate, pump-up, or facilitate athletic performance? Three? Four?

Why not plug in some random kid’s iPod and let it shuffle? (Could be a cool contest!) Or hire a live band? Or even bring in somebody just banging on a trashcan rhythmically?

Just some things to mull over, ya know? Happy Friday, ya’ll.


  1. James says:

    I have long been baffled by the Armory playlist. It’s terrible, amazing, uncreative, boring, too loud and, most of the time, flat out weird.

    Suggestions that would go over well with the kids AND their parents: Lil Yachty, Grateful Dead, Lumineers, Tribe Called Quest, Willie Nelson, Green Day, Neko Case, Rancid, the Shins, Steely Dan. This would make it no less weird, but at least would embrace more of the diversity of American musicianship.

    And we haven’t even begun to discuss the unintelligibility of the check-in announcements. Note to management: they’re often not very clear unless you consider NYC subway announcements circa 1985 clear.

  2. Jordan says:

    I have been going to the armory on a weekly basis (during the indoor season) for 20 years. A lot of ppl think Ian Brooks is a terrible announcer, and I agree.

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