Essential Pittsburgh
5:47 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

What Makes a Good Sports Song Stick?

Bucs euphoria can be felt and heard all over town. University of Pittsburgh music professor Deane Root, explains why some sports songs are more enduring than others.
Bucs euphoria can be felt and heard all over town. University of Pittsburgh music professor Deane Root, explains why some sports songs are more enduring than others.
Credit Jwalter522 / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a record winning season, and the Bucs euphoria can be felt and heard all over town. 

Songs like "Beat 'em Bucs" are gaining new popularity on drive-time radio and YouTube.

Batter walk up songs such as  "Apache" from the Sugarhill Gang, can be purchased on iTunes for Garrett Jones fans.

When a Pittsburgh team starts doing well, we can’t help but sing.

Fans at PNC Park say the right beat and good memories are key to a great sports song. Memorable lyrics and situations like the 1979 Pirates' season, are what makes a song like "We Are Family" an enduring tune.

Deane Root, professor of music and director of the Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh says one of the keys to an enduring sports song is familiarity.

"Beat 'em Bucs," for example was one of the earliest Pirates songs to gain popularity. It was written in 1960 by Joe Negri and performed by Benny Benack's Dixieland Jazz Band to the melody of Stephen Foster's "Camptown Races," making the song recognizable to fans of all generations.

For the Steelers, Root says "One of the things about football is that the fans sing a lot more." They're also more inventive with lyrics to songs like, "We Will Rock You." Root says it's one song with which fans have developed dozens of different versions.