There’s a lot to love about the autumn season. The air has as a certain invigorating crispness to it. There’s a golden hue to the late afternoon that only comes around this time of year. Most of the holidays revolve around gorging. And every Van Morrison song sounds like it was written for the exact moment you’re living in, whether you’re admiring the turning leaves or sipping a warm drink by an open window.
It’s all so enchanting that it’s easy to forget what the fall is really about: football. It’s about playing, watching, tailgating, and talking football. It’s about the love of the game, the gridiron warriors, the fanfare, the spectatorship. It’s also about the rallies, and the halftime celebrations, and the homecoming parades, the feeling of being a part of something big, exciting and rooted in tradition.
Well, it’s hard to think of anything bigger, more exciting, or more rooted in tradition than the college marching band. The marching band is the preferred soundtrack for your day at the stadium, wrapping all the thrill, drama, and coordination of a football game into a fully choreographed montage of martial rhythms and blaring brass.
But if you think marching bands are just out there snoozing through Sousa, we’ve got news for you. We’ve come a long way from “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Check out these Ten Awesome College Marching Band Performances that redefine the form and get us pumped for Saturday afternoon.
1. Ohio University Marching 110
The Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
The Ohio University Marching 110 deserves a tremendous amount of credit for turning a pretty stupid song into this masterpiece. Their take on LMFAO’s “The Party Rock Anthem” is—I’m just gonna say it—a million times better than the original.
2. University of Washington Husky Marching Band
Evenflow by Pearl Jam
If you like your marching bands brooding and introspective, check the Huskies perfectly nailing this grunge classic off of Pearl Jam’s 1991 debut album, Ten.
3. Bowling Green State University Falcon Marching Band
Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand
So, I know that Franz Ferdinand recorded “Take Me Out” in 2004. And I can see that this video is from a game against Miami University in 2008. But after watching it a few times, I’m still entirely convinced that this video was recorded in 1972. Either way, it’s pretty amazing.
4. The Ohio State University Marching Band
Back To the Future – songs by Alan Silvestri, Chuck Berry and (spoiler alert) Huey Lewis
The Ohio State University Marching Band went out on a limb for this one, even sampling Christopher Lloyd for the sake of authenticity. They not only do a spot on rendition of Alan Silvestri’s score and Marty McFly’s performance at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, but there’s actually a flux capacitor. It allows the band to traverse the entire film trilogy. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the formations here are pretty much insane.
5. Oklahoma State University Cowboy Marching Band
Dream On by Aerosmith
Give the OSU Cowboy Marching Band credit. It takes courage to play a power ballad at a sporting event. But even athletes get introspective. Stick with this one. As per its source material—Aerosmith’s “Dream On”—it builds into something pretty epic.
6. Jackson State Marching Band
Oh Yeah – Foxy Brown
Oh Yeah – Foxy Brown
Bet you didn’t know a marching band could groove. The Jackson State Marching Band turns Foxy Brown’s 2001 slow-rider into an absolute throwdown.
7. Southern University
Forget You by Cee-Lo Green
An inspired choice by the Southern University Marching Band, this take on Cee-Lo Green’s unlikely 2010 smash is all instrumental, and thus requires no censorship. Do be warned though. It’s pretty hot.
8. George Mason Green Machine
Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine
Oh man. This one just makes me wanna break stuff. The George Mason Green Machine absolutely smashes up Rage Against the Machine’s Bulls on Parade. This marching band could beat up your marching band.
9. USC Trojans Marching Band
Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
So, on the surface, the idea of performing a cover of “Tusk,” a minor and largely forgotten Fleetwood Mac hit from 1979, seems entirely random. That is, until you hear it. Then it just seems genius. The USC Trojan Marching Band may be responsible for the best musical performance on this list.
10. Ohio State University
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
Ok. I know, there’s already an entry for Ohio State. But what could I do? They actually moonwalk here.
These were some of our favorites. Let us know if there are any we missed!
(Ok, 1 more… Here’s a bonus for you, both because you’ve been so well-behaved and because Ohio State deserves the extra credit… and because our editor Hillary couldn’t stop watching it.)
11. Ohio State University
Hollywood Blockbuster’s Halftime Show
NOW let us know if there are any we missed!