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“Put Your Hands Up in the Air!” is back where it belongs

Wave your hands up in the air! Come on, come on, try it if you dare!

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

For the past two years, we have been led astray. A generation of Northwestern football fans grew up on the beautiful strains of “Put Your Hands Up In The Air” by Belgian artist Danzel. For two years, they were robbed of their birthright by interlopers, usurpers, and pretenders. The stadium played songs without the energy and passion of the inimitable Belgian club hit.

But at the end of the third quarter of Northwestern’s win over Purdue, the speakers began to roar. Laidback Luke and Lil’ Jon were consigned to the bench. “Let Me Clear My Throat” was left out of the rotation. Some kind, benevolent gameday operations person decided that “Put Your Hands Up in the Air” had to return.



Look, I understand that Inside NU (and Ben Goren in particular) have been at the forefront of the campaign to remove “Put Your Hands Up in the Air” from its rightful place. For them, it’s too tacky, corny, and not a good song. As Ben Goren wrote:

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.

-Ben Goren, 2015

Ben, I apologize, but it’s actually good now. You never got to see the replacements! First, Northwestern played “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. Unfortunately, when Nebraska fans came to town in 2016 for the third game of 2016, we neglected to realize that it was traditional Husker pump-up song. Also, no one knew what to do with their hands. After that disaster “Put Your Hands Up in the Air,” was a welcome respite.

Ben, Meredith Goodman has won. You have lost. Northwestern is now officially the “quirky little sibling to our bigger Big Ten siblings.” It’s all over. Our brand is too strong. Our marketing is too intent on lording superiority and academic quirkiness. Our strength coaches took off their shirts on the video board to reveal cut-off polos to pump up a crowd. It’s all over.

Complete ignorance has been a major problem for Northwestern fans without our Belgian overlords. Northwestern football fans are not really going to come up with a unique fourth quarter pump-up dance of their own volition. There simply is not enough agreement amongst the populace nor enough people to make some tradition stick.

As Hobbes writes:

“The Papacy is not other than the Ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.”

Oh wait, that’s the wrong quote. Sorry.

For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance.”

To paraphrase:

When “Put Your Hands Up in the Air” came back on in the Purdue game, it was glorious. For the fans who grew up in the shadow of Danzel, it was the equivalent to the Douglas MacArthur’s return to Manila in 1944 (as in, it was something that was actually kinda embarrassing, but we made it a triumph anyway). The hands were in the air. The students and parents in for Parents’ Weekend were actually doing anything. It was beautiful.

If anything, the song truly represents Northwestern sports in the Jim Phillips era. As a good football team played on the field, a strange marketing tradition that everyone just rolled with out of sheer inertia blared on the speakers. This is why we play the games.