I appreciate Northwestern trying to develop a football culture. I really do. There's just one problem: no cool tradition has ever started because it was manufactured.
The "Hands Up In The Air" is one such "tradition."
This is not a homegrown tradition. It's not natural. It's just something that the powers that be decided they would do. Again, I understand why it happened. Northwestern football games need something to develop atmosphere. The issue is that their selection makes no sense.
"Put Your Hands Up In The Air" was a pretty unsuccessful club song from Belgium that never got off the ground. There is nothing about it that relates to Northwestern. Nothing about it relates to football. Nothing about it relates to anything that should be played at a football stadium. And yet Northwestern does it.
I don't know why this "song," and calling it such does a disservice to music, was selected as something that Northwestern fans are supposed to pretend they enjoy. There are surely better options. Plus, Northwestern has shown that it is willing to try different things. "Hell's Bells" is no longer played every time THAT BRINGS UP...A THIRD DOWN.
Why has "Put Your Hands Up In The Air" avoided the axe? Why was it chosen in the first place?
I can only imagine...
(Note: The following interactions are NOT REAL. Please do not interpret them as such.)
It's a cold, gray, February day in Evanston. In Anderson Hall, a meeting is beginning. Jim Phillips sits at one end of the table, wearing a white button down shirt and black pants. Around the table are various middle aged, balding men in suits and ties. The clock strikes 10, and the meeting begins.
Jim Phillips: You know what Northwestern football needs?
Room: (Indistinct murmurs about facilities and a functional sound system)
Phillips: We need traditions. Wisconsin has the jump around. Ohio State dots the I. Michigan touches that stupid banner. Iowa probably does something related to pigs or corn or some crap. Shoot, Indiana does some weird thing with a rock! And what do we have?
Room: (Indistinct murmurs about the "State School" chant and losing games in the 4th quarter)
Phillips: That's right, nothing. The closest thing we have to a "tradition" is yelling out "no smoking" at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Room: (A few in the back instinctively put out their cigarettes)
Phillips: So we need a tradition. I like what Wisconsin has going on, I really do. A cool song that all these young kids can put their hands in the air and wave them like they just don't care to. Now, I know you all are asking: what song should we choose?
Room: (Indistinct murmurs again about what songs "kids these days" are listening to on their "myPhones")
Phillips: Now I was in Brussels last weekend and I heard this super groovy song by this guy called Danzel--
Some guy in the back (interrupting): Hold up, you mean the guy who looks like he got his head stuck in a blender? Here let me pull up his picture on the screen.
Phillips: Yeah well he's got this song called "Put Your Hands Up In The Air" which is a huge hit over there in Europe.
Same guy from the back: No it's not! It peaked at like 52 in Germany and didn't even chart in the UK! And that was like 4 years ago."
Phillips: Yeah well—
Same guy again: The song is terrible! It has only 34 words in it and it's over 6 minutes long! That's less like 5.5 unique words per minute. My 4-month old baby has a fuller vocabulary.
Phillips: Well what if we have cool people announce it every game?
Guy: I mean maybe, but they'd have to be awfully cool. I cannot stress enough how much this song sucks.
Phillips: Well, what's your idea then, hotshot?
Guy: Well what about "Sweet Home Chicago?" That has a local flavor. Everyone in Chicago can sing along to "Chelsea Dagger," why not copy the Blackhawks? Heck, how about "Cat Daddy?" That's a super easy dance that even Northwestern students can do while not looking too moronic, plus it fits with the whole Wildcat thing. How is a song by some eurotrash guy from Belgium at all related to Northwestern?
Phillips: We'll put it to a vote. Who wants to listen to this guy here?
Room: [Everyone uncomftorably looks at each other, then down in their lap, then back to Phillips. No one raises their hand]
Phillips: And who wants to listen to their boss's idea?
Room: [Hands shoot up everywhere]
Phillips: Then it's decided. Any last words?
Guy from the back again: I'm telling you, it'll be cool for half a season. When you have to look at a sea of people gently flailing for 20 seconds while talking to the person next to them about how freaking lame this is, don't say I didn't warn you.
Phillips: Psh. You just don't understand the young people.