High Fidelity: Jock jams 2009

November 5, 2009

Hoyas cycle through “sports songs” like our personal assistants cycle through loads of laundry. Back when I was a freshman, Jim Jones’ “We Fly High” (Ballin’) and Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’” were the uncontested jams of the moment. This year I’m told that Wale’s “Chillin’” will reign supreme as the official pump-up song. In certain respects, the constant overturn can be attributed to the nature of pop-music consumption—we eventually grow tired of Jim Jones’ and his crew yelling “ballin’!” and inevitably seek out something new. What remains a mystery to me is why certain songs stick around in the unofficial Georgetown Basketball repertoire, despite wear and tear.

Granted, the ubiquity of the fight song makes sense—for the same reasons that students continue to step around the seal—but how is it that a song like “Hey! Baby” can top the list of songs that Hoyas belt out together in public? I would wager that if the Voice polled 100 students regarding who wrote “Hey! Baby,” maybe 10 would know the right answer (Bruce Channel). Even fewer would know the year the song first reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 (1962), or that the harmonica riff from the song actually inspired John Lennon’s harmonica solo on “Love Me Do,” The Beatles’ first number one hit. And I bet a whopping zero of those polled could give you a convincing reason why a goofy love song from the sixties became associated with our home games. The song has the mass-karaoke vibe going for it (who doesn’t love to be loud at a sports game?), but whereas a song like “Zombie Nation” has a danceable tempo, “Hey! Baby” barely qualifies as a sway. Does Greg Monroe feel especially encouraged when he’s asked to “be our girl”?

Here’s my theory: people love to sing songs that involve the interjection “hey!” at sporting events. Just think of all the jock jams that feature the word “hey”: “Rock and Roll, Pt. 2” by Gary Glitter; “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam (which Wale samples on “Chillin’”); “Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty By Nature; “Macho Man” by the Village People, and even “Hey Ya” by Oukast.

“Hey” has a lot going for it. It’s an attention-getter, it’s a basic, one-syllable sound, and it’s fun to shout (much like moaning “oh” during free-throws). It doesn’t particularly matter if the person next to you is tone-deaf—pitch has nothing on “hey.” In essence, it’s a “lowest common denominator” method of generating excitement and energy.

So in my mind, “Hey! Baby” managed to sneak into our basketball games by association. If any other word were to replace “hey” (like “say” or “yo”), it wouldn’t work. How else can you explain a song that has no business being sung at a basketball game?

Now excuse me while I go switch out some laundry. Gotta pay for those season tickets somehow.

Say hey to Daniel at dcook@ georgetownvoice.com.

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