He may have just withdrawn from the inaugural Olympic Slope Style event in Sochi, but two-time gold medalist Shaun White will still need musical motivation to drive him to a third gold in the Halfpipe.
For his third and final Olympics, the 27-year-old snowboarder and guitarist for Bad Things has been tapping into Jay Z, the Black Lips, and David Bowie to get him amped for the Games, which kick off tomorrow (though White’s halfpipe competition won’t be until February 10). He opened up his Olympic playlist for EW.
Jay Z, “My First Song”
“I’m going to the Olympics for the third time, and I’m trying to find that motivation to still continue in something like this. Jay talks about treating everything like it’s your first, or like it’s the last time you’re ever gonna do it. I really like that. You gotta treat it like, dig deep and find that reason you really wanted it in the first place. He goes on some funny rant at the end, like ‘S—, I’mma go golfing,’ like, what he’s gonna do after? And I’m like, ‘Cool, that’s my whole deal too’ — just put my head down and work hard like I did when I was younger and good things will come from that. I’m not much of a golfer, but I get the reference.”
Black Lips, “Bad Kids”
“I think what I love about this band and this song is these guys aren’t perfect. It’s not like every note is pristine. That’s not what music is about, and it took me a minute to realize that. In sports, it’s about doing the trick perfectly every single time and getting the score. It was a humbling experience to say, ‘OK, I’m not going to be the best at something’ when I started playing guitar. When I was younger, that’s what I thought, and [then] I realized it’s about making music with friends… And this song kind of reminds me of all my buddies.
Snowboarding is an Olympic sport, but it still started out with these rebel roots — same with skateboarding. It reminds me of not giving a s—. For me that’s not something that’s on the table at all times. I mean, I act the way I do, but there’s kids watching and we’re on TV and all this stuff. I don’t let it affect me, but I do think about it sometimes. So this song reminds me of mayhem, and the video for this is just kids bent on anarchy. I love that the song is like a happy upbeat oldies song, but with all these dark messed up lyrics.”
Phantogram, “Fall In Love”
“I had made friends with Phantogram, Josh [Carter] and Sarah [Bartel], when I was living in New York for a few months. I said, ‘I’m gonna be out training and doing stuff for the Olympics, stay at my place.’ So they were living at my house in L.A. while they were recording this album, and they were sneaking me tracks and I was loving it. Now it’s coming out as the second single, I’m so pumped for them. There are breakdowns that happen in the very beginning and towards the middle that are such a departure from the tempo and groove of the song, and it works so well. It’s this breather. They’re very interesting people,very fun and loving and happy, but you can just kind of tell there’s a little bit of darkness in there. Same with the music.”
David Bowie, “Moonage Daydream”
“I just think it’s the baddest way to start a song—by just f—ing screaming, ‘I’m an alligator!’ There’s something so inspiring — the guy can do whatever he wants, because he’s David Bowie. Literally, one of the lyrics is ‘You’re squawking like a big monkey bird.’ You can listen to it a bunch of times, and you’re at that point where you go, ‘Wait, what is he saying?’ And you’re just like, ‘This is great!’ Because it’s such a powerful song. I love the guitars in it, and I love his lyrics. It’s such a cool thing—during that time, people were really into space, I guess.”
Bad Things, “Caught Inside”
“I didn’t want to be that guy to pick his own band’s song, but I remember in the process of writing the songs that we’d work so hard trying to get everything right, changing this or that, and this was the one song that just kind of came through and we were like, ‘This is great, I love this.’
The reason I picked it is because the fact that [drummer/vocalist] Lena [Zawaideh] is very showcased, and she was such a big part of writing this song, and you can hear this great mix between her and [lead singer] Davis [LeDuke] sharing the verse. It just really captured everyone’s strengths. This is also one of my favorite songs to play live and people get really into it. I know we picked other songs for the singles, but this song really does it for me.”