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January 17, 2018

Ranking the fight songs for Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers and Union

How do the musical rallying cries for the five Philly sports teams stack up against each other?

Fight songs for sports teams are, almost by nature, usually bad. Their focus — "I am a fan of this team" — is narrow and they typically lack emotional creativity. Their object of affection is so tangible that their lyrics tend to be painfully specific; think "Peaches" without the underlying romantic message.

That being said, every time I hear "T for Temple U" I stand up and begin waving my arms up and down in a hybrid "YMCA" dance, a response that's purely Pavlovian. Why? Because it reminds me of my sophomore year, storming the court of the Wells Fargo Center after the Owls upset Duke. It's certainly not because of the, um, let's say simplistic lyrics.

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So, when I put together these rankings of the fight songs for Philadelphia's five professional sports teams, it wasn't just about the song itself. While I did factor in each song's musical merits, I mostly looked at how important and closely tied the tunes are to each team's respective history and fan base. I'm not saying don't send me your hate mail — feel free to do so. Just keep that in mind while examining the list.

Without further ado:

5. Flyers — ?????

Flyers fans, don't take this as a diss. You guys don't really have an official fight song. And you don't really need one for the same reason you don't need a mascot either (RIP Slapshot). The orange and black faithful routinely pack the Wells Fargo Center to capacity even when the team is a fringe contender for a playoff spot. You're a different breed, and don't require such frivolous fanfare. The team has varied its after-goal songs year to year, and has even adopted the Union's fight song for that role in the past. The below song is a remix of The Offspring's "Keep 'em Separated," concocted by former Y100 radio host Paul Barsky. It's the song that comes up when you google "Flyers fight song," and it comes in at fifth. (Side note for Flyers fans: If you've never watched this Steve Miller parody from Preston & Steve's Casey Boy, you need to do so now.)

4. Sixers – 'Here Come the Sixers'

Musically, this is the best song on the list (I'm a sucker for the 70s). And its having a moment. With The Process turning a corner, hearing it play now after home wins is both a reminder of the team's exciting future and its storied history. But as noted in a recent New York Times profile of the song, it was dormant for about two decades after its initial introduction and use during the team's glory days of the 80s. The Sixers were my first love as a fan, and if I were going off my personal rooting interests, this would rank higher. If this article were on Pitchfork, it would probably be first. But because of its prolonged absence, it comes in at fourth.

3. Union — 'Doop'

For those who think this ranks higher than "Here Come The Sixers" because of a soccer bias, know this: I've watched at least most of almost every Sixers game this season, and I've probably watched, in total, six halves of Union soccer during the team's entire existence. And "Doop" pales in comparison to the Sixers' song in terms of, you know, being a decent song. It also has a single lyric and wasn't even recorded specifically for the team. But the "Euro-pop" chant is ingrained in the team's founding (for that history, click here). One thing you have to give the Sons of Ben, and soccer fans in general, is they're good at branding themselves. And as previously mentioned, "Doop" is so effective as a rallying cry that another city team tried adopting it. Simple but successful, it ranks third.

2. Phillies – 'High Hopes,' as sung by Harry Kalas

I was this close to making Harry Kalas' rendition of "High Hopes" No. 1, mainly because it's the only song on this list to make me cry. I suppose this Bobby Burnet swinger may technically count as a Phillies "fight" song, and there's also this jingle the team played after playoff wins during the Phillies' most recent stretch of success. But neither of those invoke the emotional response the late, great broadcaster does when he used to sing the Frank Sinatra song about an ant moving a rubber tree plant. What song better embodies the Phillies — heck, Philly sports – than a seemingly overmatched creature defying the odds and inspiring hope? And who better to sing it than Kalas and his comforting baritone, the voice of your summer for so many years, whose statue watches over us in the outfield of Citizens Bank Park? The team still plays it on the big screen after home wins, so I'm counting it and slotting it at second.

1. Eagles — 'Fly Eagles Fly'

No other song on this list will, without fail, be chanted at home games for every other team on this list if said team performs poorly, or if the Eagles are simultaneously playing well. You may hate that fact — I get annoyed when it happens after Phillies games in July — but you can't deny it. It’s the song most ubiquitous with Philly sports as a whole. And you bet your ass I was the guy leading a chorus on a crowded subway four hours after a home playoff win Saturday in a train full of at least some apathetic Killers fans, who had to endure at least half of the Wells Fargo Center breaking out into the song in between the opening act and "Mr. Brightside." "Fly Eagles Fly" is quite clearly first.