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Georgia State's New Fight Song: How Atlanta Is It?

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Georgia State's band hopes to give you hell. If you're uncomfortable listening to their city's name being abbreviated to the sound of tubas, the Panthers may have already succeeded.

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Would you like to hear a brand new song meant to sound something like dozens of 100-year-old songs? We're proud to present the new Georgia State Panthers fight song, manufactured in time for the school's first-ever football season. (You can hear their old fight song, a confounding mass of melodies, on NPR here.)

We can't evaluate the song's quality, as it lands in the comfortable zone of Yep, That Sounds Like A College Fight Song songs. It touches all the bases and is easy to hum after one listen, which is kind of what we're going for. But we can discuss it's Atlanta-ishness. First, the piece:

Our analysis of some key components:

"Give 'Em Hell"

The "give 'em hell" line is board-approved yet rascally, and we can imagine the negotiations and concessions that had to be hammered through before the school's longtime football-averse brass OK'd that one. Of course, it probably wouldn't be in there if the school's northwest neighbors hadn't already been getting away with singing "helluva" 500 times a day for the past century.

Still, festive and tuneful gentle profanity always stirs the ears and the spirit alike. Our only complaint is the way the melody lifts for the delicious punchline of a curse, causing it to sound more like a question than a statement.

Look at it this way: straight-laced GSU consultant Dan Reeves will be found very mildly cussing in song every Saturday for the next three months or so.

For that alone, we award 2 MARTA tokens.

Jay Bocook

According to the school's site, the song's composition was assisted by "renowned composer Jay Bocook." Bocook is currently the director of athletic bands at Furman University.

The Panthers don't play Furman this year, but it sounds like the kind of school they'd play sooner or later.

-1 MARTA token.


Spelling the school's name as both G-S-U and G-A-S-T-A-T-E is confusing and redundant. Combined with ATL, it amounts to a whale of spelling throughout. Georgia's public schools are ranked 36th among all states in writing and 28th in reading, so I'm going to have to deduct here.

-10 MARTA tokens for all this wordcraft [Georgia Tech World of Warcraft joke].


You'd think the over-enunciatiousness of the selected performers isn't helping the song's tally. It's most prominent in the "mighty" in "mighty and strong." It sounds whitebread, overcalculated, and cautious.

However, go listen to Big Boi pronouncing it the same way, minus a couple "ighties." If 'Twan were to spit the words "mighty and strong," he'd pronounce them in exactly the same fashion as the GSU glee club.

1 MARTA token for giving me a reason, any reason at all, to compare this song to OutKast.

"Drive On for the Score"

This tune is presumably meant to be played after a touchdown. So why does the song implore us to "drive on for the score"? Didn't we just do that? Isn't that why we're singing right now? (Also, "You will hear us mighty and strong." Aren't we presently hearing you sing those words at this very moment?)

We could deduct College football fanpoints for this lyric's promotion of the practice of ignoring game events, but this is Atlanta. Not paying attention to the game is the whole point. You're lucky we're even in the stadium in time for the first touchdown. There is no lyric that could better capture the prototypical Atlanta fan's awareness and concern for on-field activity than this.

In fact, urging on a football team that has just succeeded at the object of said urging borders on a sort of musical alternative history, another extremely Atlanta activity.

 5 MARTA tokens.


Some have taken an issue with the song's use of A-T-L, squirming at the jarring mishmash of vintage top-hat circus-twirly (white) music and an abbreviation for the city's name that suggests modern street (black) slang. But this is 2010. Let's just be glad it doesn't reference the trap.

ATL is basically this town's name at this point. It's highlighted in the city's official marketing campaign, the Falcons and Hawks and this website use alternate ATL logos, it's the call sign of the planet's busiest airport, and a major movie called ATL came out back in March 2006. For reference, Matthew Stafford was a high school senior at the time. Saddam Hussein was still alive and on trial in November 2006. That's how much time the world has had to familiarize itself with ATL.

But isn't it a little hokey and contrived? Even a little forced? Well yes, it's a college football fight song. But being in the middle of Atlanta is clearly one of GSU's defining traits and recruiting advantages. It makes sense to extend that into the fight song somehow. What are they supposed to do, find a cuss word that rhymes with Atlanta? (And what if we imagine unorthodox, humor-adept local rappers like Da BackwudzField Mob, or Young Dro sampling the "hell/ATL" couplet, immediately quintupling Bill Curry's street cred? Not all that farfetched, right?)

Sure, "we're from the ATL" doesn't sound like much when cooed by semi-pros in a soap-clean recording studio. It'll sound a lot badder when belted by the student section at the team's first road game. That's the context to keep in mind.

We would award GSU 10 MARTA tokens for its use of the abbreviation, but the rest of the country's seeming discomfort forces us to award 20 entire MARTA tokens. It's not like the song features Kilo Ali, people.


17 total MARTA tokens, a respectable showing for any tune and likely among the all-time non-HBCU (peace to the Morris Brown Marching Wolverines) leaders in overall Atlantaness. Mostly just because it has "ATL" in it.

Yes, we know MARTA uses cards instead of tokens now. MARTA has been penalized -5 MARTA tokens for this.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.