I’m not afraid to tell you I love One Shining Moment a little too much. Maybe you knew that already.
Is the song-and-montage a little on the corny side? Sure, but there are plenty of other sports traditions that could be described that way. There’s just something about the way it sums up the weeks of the NCAA Tournament filled with emotion, roller-coaster rides and David/Goliath storylines that leaves you with that perfect satisfying final taste of one of sports’ greatest events.
We here at FTW like to rank stuff, so I’m ranking every single One Shining Moment since it began ending the tourney in 1987. My criteria? The production itself, the use of highlights and music and whether it had that overall thrilling feel. (UPDATE: We’ve ranked the 2022 version).
So, the ball is tipped, and here we are:
The highlights aren’t the problem. It’s all those televisions. Too. Many. Televisions. Not to mention a heavy dose of special effects. I like my OSM simple and unadulterated.
Something about this one doesn’t do anything for me. Even audio from Gus Johnson didn’t raise my heart rate much.
This was still in the early days of the highlight reel, so I’m betting producers were still learning what worked. Too many bench shots, not enough game highlights. Larry Brown getting pumped was fun to see though.
Good news: A new, improved version of the song performed by writer David Barrett. Bad news: A few too many slow-mo shots and special effects — a lot of light-up basketballs — for my taste.
Not all that thrilling.
Just a few too many reaction shots.
Other than Wisconsin players “riding in” and President Obama’s cameo, I didn’t think this one was all that great. Maybe it was just that kind of tournament?
I’m not sure what it is, but this one was just okay. Lots of young Blake Griffin though.
I did enjoy Bobby Knight messing with someone (I think that’s the late Don Haskins?) at the 0:18 mark.
The Christian Laettner shot is in there, and I think that’s Travis Best getting a slap on “you always did your best.”
Solid, but not the greatest.
Lots of tears. That’s not a bad thing. Also: A Rasheed Wallace near-fight.
Okay, let’s talk about Jennifer Hudson’s much-panned version. Here’s a hot take: It’s actually not that bad. Purists (including myself) can argue it’s Luther Vandross or bust, but her performance gave me a few goosebump moments. The Gordon Heyward half-court miss by a foot was handled beautifully.
I believe that’s the first time we’ve seen cameras in the locker room. Pretty cool.
Points for including Al McGuire dancing to “The ‘Cuse is in the house.”
I like the choice to start out with Shane Battier with the championship trophy and then work backwards. Still a little heavy on the computer effects.
The opening shots of quirky fans, mascots and bands is worth the price of admission.
The Bo Kimble left-handed free throw to honor Hank Gathers to the “you reach deep inside” lyric is perfect.
Some great stuff: A solid intro, a fantastic little dumping-water-on-the-coach montage, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss cheering on Northwestern. I would have preferred more of the audio from the booth during the guitar solo and less during the verses, but overall it’s a good one — even if there wasn’t much the editors could do with a sloppy championship game.
As you know from this list, I like audio from the booth mixed in with highlights, but I’d say there was a little too much of it. One of the best things is just hearing Luther croon. That said, I love the intro with its dunk and Michigan scream and using the extremely tall Tacko Fall for “the time is short” lyric. Somehow, including the Chuma Okeke injury and Bruce Pearl reaction worked, too.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time we’ve heard audio from the booth used, a simple but huge innovation to add to the experience. And look! There’s Nick Lachey! Ashley Judd! Bill Murray!
Bryce Drew helps.
I keep going back and forth with this version. One one hand, I enjoyed the voiceovers of some coaches’ locker room speeches at the beginning. On the other, there’ a ton of on-court action and fewer cutaways to scenes off of it (I loved the quick locker-room montage). But there were so many incredible shots made in 2016, including Kris Jenkins’, that it was the right call to stick with a highlights-heavy package. This belongs in the top 10. BONUS: This appears to be Ne-Yo’s alternate version with a Villanova-centered reel (hat tip to Crossing Broad):
11 (tied). 2014
11 (tied). 2015
Both the 2014 and 2015 editions reflect the era we’re in — lots of viral moments (Georgia State’s Ron and R.J. Hunter, the Mercer dance) to go along with the action on the court. Fantastic. I couldn’t decide which one was better.
I got worried during the intro, when the opening was mostly covered up by announcer commentary — I like hearing the voices from the booth, but not so much that it covers up those iconic chords. But then this one settled in and included a lot of great slow-mo footage, as well as the Indiana cheerleader saving a ball from the top of the backboard. I also liked the choice to do a “too small” taunt coupled with the “feel the wind in your face” lyric. A top-10 for sure.
I watched each One Shining Moment in chronological order, so hearing the silky voice of Teddy Pendergrass greeting me was a joy (absolutely zero offense to Barrett, but who doesn’t love Pendergrass?). The series of hands doing “No. 1” during the opening was pretty cool too.
I loved this one! The opening montage got me right away: Some slow-mo, some audio of locker room speeches and broadcast clips, the meta moment of the UMBC player who wanted to be in the One Shining Moment video, followed by highlights punctuated by the voice of Turner and CBS announcers. Well done all around.
Maybe it was the star power of the ’08 tournament itself (Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love) or the big shots (Mario Chalmers to the rescue for Kansas!) or even the use of pre-game huddle audio that makes this one a top-five candidate.
Maybe it’s because we waited SO long for it. Or maybe it’s the way producers handled the intro — with no cheerleaders and bands, there was a terrific montage of drone shots of the arenas around Indianapolis where this tournament was played, along with some solid dancing/celebrating crowd shots. But there are so many reasons why this is a top-five OSM: a near-perfect balance of highlights, calls from the booths and room for the song to breathe, a nod to the retiring Roy Williams, and the use of some beautiful slow-motion.
The first-ever OSM doesn’t have one-tenth of today’s production values, but it packs a certain power punch with its simplicity. There’s a great montage of angry coaches over the guitar solo and the first glimpses of familiar visual matches with the lyrics (“Feel the beat of your heart/feel the wind in your face”). It’s capped off by Keith Smart’s all-time great shot. It’s hard to get it right the first time, but this one did.
One Shining Moment is all about the highest of highs and lowest of lows. You’ve got George Mason celebrating and Adam Morrison sobbing. You’ve got lots and lots of Joakim Noah and one perfect crane shot of the forward leading Florida fans in a Gator Chomp. This one feels like a great symphony.
It’s not just because this is Vandross’s first appearance. It feels like this is where OSM hit its stride. No bells and whistles, just a solid blend of highlights, excitement and emotion.
This one’s got it all: Luther, the perfect opening montage filled with audio/video from huddles and cinematic moments mixed with thrilling highlights. There’s even Jim Larranaga’s “Muhammad Ali!” locker room speech to Miami players. If you’re putting a One Shining Moment into a time capsule, this is the one.