Messing with Perfection: How to Improve Hang On Sloopy

By Nicholas Jervey on May 10, 2014 at 6:00 am

Hang On Sloopy is near the top of the list of things that make Ohio State gamedays feel special. It has been a signature song of the Ohio State Marching Band for nearly 50 years, and The Ohio State University's official rock song for decades. This week, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to make Hang On Sloopy the official rock song of OhioIt's an important song, to say the least.

Now comes an opinion that could get me horsewhipped in the wrong company: Hang On Sloopy badly needs a revitalization.

For every song the OSU Marching Band plays, the goal is to hype up the fans. Sometimes the crowd is into Hang On Sloopy, and everyone in the stadium is happy. The problem: when the crowd isn't feeling it, something that is more common as of late, Sloopy comes across as stale, even dull.

Not every song has to be constantly exciting; people mostly clap the Script Ohio song (Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse). But when the sousaphone player goes to dot the i in Ohio, the crowd comes to life. Can anyone say Sloopy inspires the same energy?

The worst thing that could happen would be for Buckeye fans to stop caring about Hang On Sloopy, which is why I have a potentially hare-brained plan to revive interest in the song.

LEss Is More

Scarcity can do wonders for a song's popularity. When Wisconsin does their "Jump Around" before the fourth quarter, the excitement is palpable. Virginia Tech fans are just as excited for "Enter Sandman", and Liverpool fans singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" during games is scintillating. So here's an idea: play Hang On Sloopy once and only once in a game, during the last media timeout in the fourth quarter.

Rather than being a random song on the marching band's music list, Hang On Sloopy will have a specific purpose. Depending on how the game is going, it will serve one of three functions: 1) victory celebration music, 2) exhorting the team to pull out a tight game, or 3) perking up spirits in a loss. Fans will be have more energy when they know the song is coming and get hyped up for it.

By saving Sloopy for the fourth quarter, TBDBITL will have a time gap to fill. Much like Hang On Sloopy will be the fourth quarter's signature song, there should be signature songs for the first three quarters. Each should be a popular song from artists with Ohio ties and sound great from the OSU Marching Band.


This song features vocals from John Legend, well known Ohio resident and OSU fan. The hook is perfect for Ohio State's trumpet section, and as a widely popular song, it will catch broad attention.

What's more, it already has currency with Ohio State fans. It was the pump-up song for the 2011-2012 men's basketball team that went to the Final Four, and it worked flawlessly. I'm not saying All Of The Lights will propel Ohio State football to greatness... but I'm implying it!


The Black Keys are a blues rock group out of Akron, and they might be the best rock band in the US. They won Grammys for "Best Rock Performance" and "Best Rock Song" last year, and Eleven Warriors has used their song "Ohio" as post-win celebration music for years.

Most fans' interaction with Hang On Sloopy is to clap and chant "O! H! I! O!". A song where you get to wail "Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-OHIO! I-O!" blows Sloopy's interactivity out of the water. "Ohio" is a fantastic sing-along song for both the chorus and verses, and it's another song the band can knock out of the park.


The Ohio Players are a 1970s funk band best known for "Love Rollercoaster" and "Fire". Love Rollercoaster is fine, but Fire is nothing short of fantastic. It has an opening riff trombone players were born to play, and delivers incredible energy.

One qualm with Fire is its sections with suggestive lyrics. The solution: play Fire as an instrumental, don't print the lyrics anywhere, and let people croon FIIIYUUUHH like they want to.


None of the other three songs is as storied as Hang On Sloopy. Old songs can be great – Carmen Ohio is 111 years old and as moving as ever – but 50-year-old songs need to inspire enthusiasm to remain popular. In the worst-case scenario, it becomes as cloying as Penn State's Sweet Caroline

Without a specific purpose, Hang On Sloopy is just another song in the marching band's repertoire. The best thing we can do for Sloopy's sake is to reinvent it as a fourth quarter rally song.

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