Cindy Blackman Santana plays drums on the reimagined version of Collins' 1981 hit, which has long helped NFL players get their heads in the game
Snoop and Stapleton are teaming up to cover Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" for this season of ESPN's Monday Night Football, and the unlikely duo's reimagined take on the song premieres in full on Monday during the special "Two Games, One Night" presentation.
Cindy Blackman Santana plays drums on the new version of Collins' 1981 hit song, which was announced with a teaser video starring all three stars that features a clip of the cover.
Stapleton, 44, can be heard crooning a faithful rendition of the iconic lyrics in the preview clip. Snoop, 51, will rap football-related lyrics on the full version, according to a press release, though his verses aren't heard in the teaser.
While the rapper and the country star may seem like an odd pairing, Stapleton's previously spoken about listening to Snoop's music — as well as Dr. Dre — growing up.
"[Snoop and Dre's music] was so real that it translated even to some kid in eastern Kentucky who had no notion of the things that he was talking about," he told 60 Minutes in 2022. "It was dangerous too, and real and dangerous are very appealing to, you know, 15- to 16-year-old kids."
The official new opening to Monday Night Football, co-produced by ESPN’s Creative Content Unit and Grammy-winning musician Dave Cobb, will also include "NFL stars, game highlights and dramatic moments" alongside the three performers, per the press release. "Heavy Action," the longtime Monday Night Football theme song, will also remain in the broadcast.
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In addition to its status as a classic '80s hit, "In the Air Tonight" has a lengthy history of use before football games. ESPN previously aired a feature about how the song helps players get their heads in the game before hitting the field.
“It was fascinating to me to see how one song could get you in that mode to go kick some tail,” said former Steelers star and two-time Super Bowl champion Hines Ward in the feature.
"I don’t care if you are the home team, the away team, you are hearing that song no matter what," added Terry McLaurin of the Washington Commanders.
The new version of "In the Air Tonight" premieres on ESPN before Monday's Saints and Panthers game and on ABC before the Browns and Steelers game the same night. It'll air before all Monday Night Football games as well as ESPN’s week 18 Saturday doubleheader, super wild card and first divisional playoff game.
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