If you think about it, the worlds of music and sports intertwine more than you may consider. Music is often used as an enhancement for sports in a way that is definitive, adding complexity and emotion for both the player(s) and fans alike. A great song can solidify a character in the world of professional wrestling (“The Game” by Motorhead as the theme for Triple H), can become an anthem for a team (“Dreams and Nightmares” by Meek Mill for the Philadelphia Eagles), and can, in rare instances, overshadow the event itself (Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV).
“The Journey,” written by Diane Warren and performed by H.E.R., hopes to add to the legacy of noteworthy musical compositions synonymous with the sport it is intended for. The track is meant to highlight the stories of the 16 teams beginning their journey through the NBA Playoffs Presented by Google Push, but, for the artist behind it, is so much more.
H.E.R., a multi-time Grammy Award winner, may be one of the most recognizable figures in entertainment right now. She opened for Coldplay on their stadium tour last year, scored a role in the upcoming adaptation of The Color Purple, and played Belle in ABC’s 30th Anniversary special of Beauty and the Beast, combining the grace and elegance of the beloved character with her signature rockstar flair.
She teamed up with Warren, an icon who has penned songs like “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith, “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion, and “Un-break My Heart” by Toni Braxton.
“The Journey” is the type of soaring orchestral power ballad Warren could write up in her sleep, and one H.E.R. has had the potential to crank out since the days of “Focus” and “Hard Place.” Beyond its sports implications, the song equally reflects H.E.R.’s own path: “All the times they thought that they could hold you back / But you’ve always known there was no chance of that. You’re made too strong / And when you’re going with your heart you can go further than you’d ever thought possible.”
H.E.R. was candid about the song in an interview with Zane Lowe of Apple Music. “I had to not be resentful of my journey,” she said. “That’s easy to do. You look back and you feel bitter, you feel upset, you feel angry. But it’s like, no… all of those things are supposed to happen. They all contribute to the bigger picture.”
At the emotional, and necessary, climax of this tune, she sang to the rafters in a way we have not heard her do before, fully surrendering herself to the song. According to her Apple interview, it was a first take miracle, as she successfully pushed herself to capacity. Perhaps a reminder that we have so much more in us than we could ever know.
Stream “The Journey” :