Friday, October 21, 2005

Fight songs.

So one of my valiant efforts to procrastinate as I study for exams this week was to fine-tune my opinions on all the fight songs in the Big 11. I used this site for the melodies and just googled the lyrics; that way I could hear the full marching band arrangements, and imagine in my own head, reading the lyrics, how they would sound sung by a big crowd. When the room periodically emptied, I'd try out some of the lyrics out loud (for the songs I didn't already know well). Fightmusic is a great site: you can get multiple songs for nearly every school with a D-1 football team, plus the Ivy League (included because, being the oldest schools in the hemisphere, they got in on the early days of the trend and wrote some of the best fight songs). Here, then, my rankings of the Big 11 fight songs.

11) "Illinois Loyalty." Schizophrenic song, veering from alma-mater level sentimentality to unconvincing faux-Indian "war-chants" sans melody, to strange forced lines like "our team is our fame protector." Ugh. I could deal with twenty-dollar language if it was for a rhyme, but nothing safe for mass consumption appears to rhyme with "protector." The song's one clever line, buried deep in the 2nd verse, rhymes "giants" with "defiance." Also demerits for using the words "Oskee wow-wow" in the lyrics.

10) "Indiana, My Indiana." A poor fitting of the words to the music. Rhythm keeps interrupting itself. You either take the breaths in the middle of the thoughts that the lyrics express, or you hold notes for an illogically long time. "We will fight forrrrrr the cream and crimsonnnnnn...." The words themselves are inoffensive, but the song just never opens the throttle.

9) "Fight On, State." The PSU band plays this song after touchdowns even though there are better songs in the catalog. I don't know how this song ever got wide acceptance. It should probably be ranked lower, but I often find myself enjoying it in a kitschy, MST-3000 way. It's maybe not that bad, but boy is it bad. It sounds like a vaudevillian number sung by guys in striped jackets and straw hats. "Fight On, State" is a dumb title which gets dumber when sung with almost no emphasis given to the "on," making it sound like a command to fight on State Street. Listen for yourself, you'll see what I mean. Then, as if to wink at you and tell you that you are in on the joke and this is really a parody of bad fight songs, they slow WAYYYYYY down for the big finish, pause unnaturally long so as to tease you into thinking they're going to mercy-kill the song, and then crank through the last line at top speed: "We'll FIGHT ON, on, on, on, on, fight ON, ON, penn state." Inspired yet? Keep in mind that the capitalized words are given the most rhythmic emphasis, while penn state is not capitalized because it is tacked on in the tiniest, most unassuming way possible considering it's the name of the damn school.

To be continued.

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