Billboard Ranks “Top Ten” NFL Fight Songs
Last year Billboard Magazine, long noted and respected for its weekly “Hot 100” Songs Chart, decided to rank what they deemed to be the “Top Ten” NFL fight songs. While I was familiar with or had at least heard most of them, as one who is interested in both professional football and music, I took it upon myself to give them all a listening to in the order in which they were ranked.
In the interest of full disclosure here, let me say at the outset that I’m currently in the process of producing a CD comprised of four versions of “Go! You Packers Go!” which is the oldest NFL fight song of any team. And in my opinion, it is without a doubt also the finest! The song was written by Wisconsin native and professional musician Eric Karll in 1931 and I believe was and still is timeless, which is what “timeless” is all about. However, it didn’t make the cut for the “Billboard Top Ten NFL Fight Songs,” which today we’ll examine more closely in the order in which they were ranked, starting with number ten.
- “Here We Go” (Pittsburgh Steelers)
A guy by the name of Jason Lipshutz authored the Billboard piece and characterized this one as a “steady rocker that has had its lyrics updated since its creation 20 years ago.” He allowed it “falls a little short of timelessness” because of the line “we’ll go to Mendenhall to get a touchdown and if you get in his way, he’s gonna knock you around,” citing it as “a sentiment that no longer holds up and was never too factual to begin with.”
We’ll agree the song is a “steady rocker” with a 16 Tons (Merle Travis) kind of vibe to it and is catchy but we question whether this even remotely resembles the stuff of which timeless songs are made of. Jason and Billboard should bear in mind that any song which mentions numerous players by name will never, ever have a chance at being lasting; much less timeless!
- “Lions Fight Song” (Detroit Lions)
With a line like “with honor you will keep your fame,” this one is characterized as being “a song that reads more like a fortune cookie than a football declaration.” Billboard also suggests that it’s “the thinking man’s fight song” but we’ll suggest that with being just a shade over a minute long, it’s more like “the thinking man’s riff that reads like a fortune cookie!” ‘Nuff said.
- “Fly Eagles Fly” (Philadelphia Eagles)
When they call this one “super short and instantly memorable,” they’ve got it half-right: it is super-short! But at just :37 seconds, what’s there to instantly remember?! The entire text of the lyric (with background vocals in parenthesis) is:
“Fly Eagles, fly, on the road to victory (fight, fight, fight!);
Fly Eagles, fly, score a touchdown one, two, three (one, two, three!).
Hit ‘em low, hit ‘em high and watch our Eagles, fly;
Fly Eagles fly, on the road to victory (E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!).”
And now, if someone would be so kind as to explain to me how this can possibly be rated as a better fight song than “Go! You Packers Go!…”?!
(Yeah, right, or fat chance!)
- “The Autumn Wind” (Oakland Raiders)
The first minute of this three minute ditty is a spoken word piece with the remaining two being an instrumental (and a somewhat dramatic one at that). Billboard calls it “a deeply badass rallying cry that you can’t really sing along to, unfortunately.” Well, the poetic portion is somewhat quaint and enjoyable to listen to but perhaps just a bit odd for it being all about the Oakland Raiders and a football fight song, too!
- “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” (Guess Who)
This song is well-written and a great one to listen to! We’ve heard it numerous times over the years and in our book, it’s truly a classic; having been written in 1941 (although Wikipedia got it wrong with the statement: “the Bears became the first team in NFL history to have a fight song,” with that distinction, of course, belonging to their arch-rivals in Green Bay).
And the line “we’ll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T-formation” smacks of NFL history going way, way back and is a classic in and of itself! While some have suggested the Super Bowl Shuffle from 1985 could displace and replace it as the official Bears’ fight song, we don’t think there’s any reason to worry about that for the time being, because Bears’ Super Bowl victories (er, make that “victory”) have been few and far-between and after further review, The Bears Still Suck!
- “Hey, Hey, Tampa Bay” (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Definitely a period piece that is specifically a throwback to the ‘70s, with a disco-sound to it! That’s just fine because the Bucs were born in the ‘70s. While the line “we’re in trouble” brings pause to the idea of it appearing in a team’s fight song, perhaps it’s because in their early years, it seemed like the Bucs and “in trouble” went together like ying and yang! Maybe they just wanted to reassure the fans to “keep the faith and have confidence” with the rejoinder of “that’s okay, we can pull it out” because eventually they did!
- “San Diego Super Chargers” San Diego Chargers
This one is a mighty-fine fight song for this day and age with a bright, fresh and modern sound to it. It has an inspirational lyric that will have you believing “with thunderbolts and lightening, we’ll (they’ll) light up the sky” and a saxophone solo that keeps you wanting more! I wouldn’t be too surprised if someday the fans started referring to them as the “San Diego Super Chargers” because of this song!
- “When The Saints Go Marching In” New Orleans Saints
Here is a case of a team lucking out because there was a “true classic” song in existence perfectly suited to being their fight song! Sort of like the state of Georgia having “Georgia on My Mind” as the official state song and Colorado adopting “Rocky Mountain High” as theirs.
In fact, you have to wonder if they decided to call them the Saints in the first place when they came into being in the late ‘60s because of the fact that New Orleans had long been identified with that song.
Either way, “When The Saints Go Marching In” is truly a song for the ages; being classic, contemporary and futuristic all at the same time. And all of that adds up to making it one helluva fight song!
- “Shout!” Buffalo Bills
So the Bills thought it was ok to lift the music from a classic 60’s rocker and use it for their fight song—how unoriginal, passe’ and even boring! It’s a great song in its own right and in its original form, no doubt about that. And there are those of us who can still picture a film clip of The Beatles doing it on a “Ready, Steady, Go!” show in 1963. But the Buffalo Bills’ “fight song?”
Sorry but I just can’t get my arms around the idea of the Buffalo Bills having any connection to or with the song—it’s too much of a stretch for me!
- And now, the “Number One, Toppermost of the Poppermost Fight Song In The NFL,” according to Billboard magazine: the “Dolphins Fight Song.”
While this one singing the praises of the Miami Dolphins is a toe-tapper and a bright and cheery little number, the very best fight song in the NFL?!
With all due respect to Billboard magazine, I don’t think so!
Until next month, carry on, keep fighting the good fight, and may the farce be with you!