In the moment before an athlete runs onto the pitch or steps into the ring, there’s anticipation, aggression, a sense of heady excitement in the air. Their entrance music—whatever they’ve chosen to blare over the arena’s PA system to announce their arrival and exhilarate the crowd—should reflect the mood in those moments of squaring up, the instants before the clash. Songs like Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” or DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” are classics of the genre, their heart-pumping tempos and screamed vocals bringing the athletes and the audience into a new psychic space governed by instinct, adrenaline, and the raw desire to win.
Now imagine walking out to the delicate falsetto of Justin Vernon. The folk-rock experimentalist is more known for sad lullabys and arcane epics than his ability to hype you up. So it came as a surprise to see Bon Iver’s “Do You Need Power? (Walk Out Music)” on the soundtrack to Creed II, wedged between Lil Wayne, Slim Jxmmi, and Crime Mob—all artists much more obviously suited to the tone of a big-budget boxing flick.
But somehow, “Do You Need Power? (Walk Out Music)” supplies every bit of the emotional intensity required for the job. Opening with sharp guitars and gauzy electronics, Vernon harkens back to the freeform mysticism of 22, A Million highlight “____45_____,” before introducing the bass drum and percussive claps that give the song its shape. His usually inscrutable lyrics are more lucid here. “I ain’t nothing with such cautious time,” he insists, before coming in with an ecstatic plea: “Do you need power?” That Vernon’s music sounds as urgent as it does on the Creed II soundtrack is a testament to his apparently infinite versatility.