What does it mean to party hard? For the Pittsburgh Penguins faithful it means watching their team tickle the twine, followed by Andrew W.K. blasting from the Consol Energy Center speakers. See, just a short time ago the Penguins lacked an identity when it came to a goal song. It was always the same generic, jock jam songs that you’ll hear in every arena in sports. That was until one fan decided that he’d attempt something that has never been accomplished before to my knowledge. He started what could be considered a Twitter revolution among Penguins’ fans and after realizing how persistent everyone was, the team obliged. So, who started all of this ruckus?
The voice of this movement can be found on Twitter at @psamp. You can also find his work at psamp.com, a fan blog covering a wide variety of Pittsburgh sports. And, in order to share this story with the masses I had to ask him specifically, what sparked the idea of “Party Hard” becoming the new goal song in Pittsburgh?
“Superficially, I was tired of the Penguins’ continued use of inoffensive, basic worn-out jock jams as their goal song. With social media, teams have been able to show more and more personality. So while teams have used technology to advance how they’re perceived, it seemed counter-productive to keep trotting out the same media and jumbotron clips of the same cache of goal songs over and over. We’ve been beaten down by Kernkraft 400, or Song 2, or Rock & Roll Pt. 2, or Seven Nation Army, or any of those types. And in my mind it was only a matter of time until some team somewhere used Party Hard…it’s perfect. Sports arena music needed a makeover.”
This movement began when the Pittsburgh Penguins faced the New York Rangers in the 2014-15 playoffs, which eventually ended in an early exit for the Penguins after just five games. The Rangers were clearly the better team going in and while the games were close and the Penguins played formidably, it wasn’t much of a series at all. Knowing that the underdog Penguins were likely to suffer an early exit, Nicholas decided to try to unite the fan base to combat the eventual negativity that would occupy Pittsburgh’s hockey Twitter.
“Yes, I felt this was an attainable goal. But the real end game was not to get the goal song changed, it was to find a way to unite the fan base around something positive that they could conceivably change within the organization. There aren’t many things with the team that the fans can control, and the near-nonstop arguing after losses contributed nothing to the growth of the team or the fan base. Now after such an accomplishment, the base has life, they have the belief that they can change anything. That’s massive.”
Giving the fan base life is exactly what this accomplished. If you haven’t been exposed to the kind of support this campaign received among Penguins’ fans, simply search the hashtag #PartyHard on Twitter. A multitude of fans made it a point to direct tweets at the Penguins’ official account to increase their awareness of what fans wanted.
Change didn’t occur immediately. When the Penguins eventually played their home opener, a lot of fans were disappointed that the same old song came blaring out of the speakers. But, at this point, it didn’t really matter. Everyone found something positive to talk about amongst each other on social media. It gave the fans something that they could have fun with, rather than simply complaining about the Penguins’ slow start. That was until former head coach Dan Bylsma and his new team, the Buffalo Sabres came to town. Pascal Dupuis opened the scoring and to everyone’s surprise, the goal song had been changed. The fans and their persistence actually convinced the team to change their goal song.
@psamp Thank YOU for your persistence. It helped us make a strong case to the people who make these decisions.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 30, 2015
Videos from fans at the arena began flooding social media. The fan that started it all? Well, he lives in Brooklyn and wasn’t in town for the game but that didn’t mean he wasn’t informed of the accomplishment.
“I can’t even begin to tell you the roller coaster of a night that was once Duper scored less than a minute in. Basically every inbox I have was a bomb scene for days after. I’ve been called a lot since Party Hard debuted as goal song…hero, legend, etc., but it’s unnecessary and really the fans who made this happen. The snowball is what makes a scene, not the water that made the snow.”
The Buffalo Sabres asked their fans to vote on a goal song this year, which seems to have marked the first time an NHL franchise asked it fans to choose something so prevalent to the in-arena experience. And while its great that they included their fans in a decision like that, it doesn’t quite feel as organic as what occurred in Pittsburgh. Whether or not you like the song, the story is simply too special to ignore. And, when I reached out to Andrew W.K. on the topic, he obviously couldn’t be more ecstatic.
Andrew W.K. Calls Change to Penguins Goal Song a “Dream Come True”
I had the privilege of speaking with Andrew regarding these events and when I say it was a privilege, I’m not exaggerating in the least. There are too few people in the world today with the positive outlook on life that he possesses and this song characterizes those traits perfectly. To “Party Hard” will mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people but in the end, it just means to live life and enjoy yourself in everything that you do.
“All I wanted to come out through the song was having fun. Being excited, creating a joyful kind of energy.”
“I don’t think any of my songs give specific rules for partying or specific guidelines other than partying in your own way. So, just like any other situation, your life changes, the way you party changes.”
“Trying to celebrate being alive and trying to look at every experience, even maybe painful experiences, as this big party called life.”
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Andrew is a Penguins fan. Well, he doesn’t have a specific team that he roots for but is a fan of the game in general. Growing up in Michigan, he was able to attend University of Michigan games and it was nearly impossible to not stay current with the Red Wings. The biggest thing for Andrew when it comes to hockey, like any other sport, is the atmosphere.
“What I really like is that feeling of excitement. That shared excitement and passion of sporting events. I like being around people who are very passionate and very dedicated to what they’re interested in.”
“I like people who are brave enough and confident enough in themselves to be very outspoken about what they love.”
Whether or not he is a fan of the Penguins specifically, he sure struck a chord with their fan base. The song “Party Hard” seems perfect for this type of venue, almost like it was written specifically for that reason. Despite the fact that “Party Hard” was featured on the Madden NFL video game in 2003 and is now used in an arena atmosphere, it wasn’t exactly planned that way. According to Andrew, the vision was a song that he could perform in large venues and create a sense of euphoria. You never really know when it will actually work out that way but now that this did, Andrew referred to it as a dream come true.
As fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins or Andrew W.K. himself, you never really know if these conversations are getting noticed. In this case, it definitely was.
“When I saw psamp start tweeting about this, just the fact that he was excited and believed that strongly was hugely thrilling for me. I never expected the Penguins to hear about it or see this online activity behind it.”
On hearing that the goal song had changed…
“I had not been online and a woman I work with texted me and said it happened, they changed their goal song to Party Hard.”
“People around the world can participate in the excitement of seeing something happen that we made happen. It’s actually one of the only times I’ve seen that work. I’ve been part of other social media initiatives and it never happens. It’s very moving and beautiful how the Penguins acknowledged it.”
Penguins’ fans will still speak negatively about this team. That’s what sports fans do. When their team is struggling, they let everyone know how unhappy they are and when the team is successful, they take every chance they get to let any other fan base know about it. No matter what ups and downs the Penguins experience, their fans will be right there with them. And, for the foreseeable future, they’ll be partying hard when it comes time to celebrate.