in november, as the michigan soccer team battled its way to a monumental beating of ohio state, the michigan stadium crowd swelled. the stands shook, 111,156 delirious fans ushered in a colossal party football game.
every party needs a soundtrack. and that Saturday, as the faithful throbbed and swayed, a melody filled the frigid air, clinging to their collective consciousness.
Reading: Pump it up michigan football
you have to inflate it. you do not know? inflate it
it was inescapable. In the unlikely event you’ve forgotten, look back at the highlights: the song draws a sea of popcorn and banging heads, the game and the ballad intertwine as one.
“There were a lot of people who had probably never heard of that song going into the game,” said DJ Skee, whom Michigan hired as a guest DJ for the game. “and by the end of the night, the whole crowd is singing along. it was magical.”
the always catchy and “magical” song is “pump it up”, released in 2019 by uk pop artist endor. is a remix of the original version, presented by danzel and dirty little jam in 2004.
How exactly did a little-known song become Michigan’s irresistible, irresistible anthem in this remarkable championship season?
It all started with a series of summer training sessions at 6:30 in the morning.
look, joel honigford laughs at the backstory now, in the midst of this time of “pump it up” hysteria. Around Ann Arbor, people recognize Honigford as the “pump it up” guy and often yell those three words at him, the fifth-year tight end says.
honigford first heard “pump it up” in a rather innocuous way in 2019, shortly after the endor remix was released. Honigford, a self-proclaimed music aficionado, discovered the song with a group of friends. they enjoyed it, so he stayed for a while. but, over time, the craze faded into the abyss, lost amid long playlists and endless mixes.
This past summer summoned a revival. Honigford’s internship had standard hours, forcing his workouts to take place in the wee hours of the morning.
“I don’t always have the most energy this early,” Honigford told the paper this week. “Because our group was so small, our strength coaches would let me DJ in the weight room. that was the first song I put on and it cheered us all up in the morning.”
When Honigford introduced the song to his teammates later in the summer, it received rave reviews. “pump it up” blared during all-team stretches and roared during the infamous “beat ohio” drill as a way to build intensity. the coaching staff accepted it, too: once after practice, the defensive staff ambushed the players’ cold pool while the song played in the background.
Before the season opener against western michigan, honigford made a request: play “pump it up” at least once.
The plea finally reached Ryan Gardner, aka DJ Array, one of the DJs employed by Michigan.
“I had no idea what it was,” Gardner said. “I had never heard of it before, I had no idea who the artist was that created it. Being a dj, I know a lot of music, but this ‘pump it up’ song, I had no idea what it was.”
curious, gardner heard it for the first time while he was in his car, and his reaction was spontaneous. He “started to jump automatically” and quickly agreed to Honigford’s request.
and, as of Sept. 11 matchup with washington, “pump it up” played after michigan’s first touchdown of the game.
It stayed that way throughout the season. the players remained infatuated with him, pulling up chairs and waving towels along the sideline. some fans jumped, but nothing extraordinary.
at least, not until the state of ohio came to town.
It was not a formality that “pump it” was played after each touchdown during the game, unlike the initial one. there were internal discussions beforehand, but not everyone involved was convinced. maybe it would vanish. maybe the fans would get tired of the repetition.
But as Michigan continued to find the end zone and chaos began, the decision was easy.
“We were like, just drop it,” Gardner recalled. “‘Pump it up’ after every touchdown. and they were bananas.”
bananas in the stands. side bananas.
“After each score, the energy built up and built up,” Honigford said. “It’s like a video game, mortal kombat, where you keep building up that energy until you get the clincher. it just kept growing and growing and we just couldn’t stop.”
nothing could stop the fans either. no tired legs, no strained voices, no goosebumps, no frozen faces.
“It’s one of those records that works well in stadiums,” said DJ Skee. “It’s short, simple and sweet. goes to the point it gives you a move that everyone can do and everyone can sing it.”
after the game, once the fans poured from the stands and flooded the field, gardner queued to “inflate” it again. the scene that took place captures the emotions of that day and the essence of the song. the tune builds, fans pricking up their ears before bursting into a wave of corn and blue waves.
“It says to be energized, so you can’t help but try to build excitement and take the energy up a notch,” Gardner said. “It’s literally the name of the song.”
The “pump it up” pandemonium was in full force. In the weeks leading up to the Ohio State game, Honigford worked alongside the hosts of Blue By Ninety, a podcast on the Maize n Brew network, to design “pump it” merchandise. They released the team the Sunday after the game, splitting their winnings with Honigford on a zero deal. within an hour, a couple hundred orders had already been placed.
“it was great to see this fan base hold on to something,” said justin roh, one of the three hosts of blue by ninety. “this was the first thing they really latched onto since ‘mr. brightside.’ For a university and fan base that cares so much about tradition, it was great to be a part of something that is completely new and innovative.”
It hasn’t faded either. at the big ten championship game in indianapolis, the michigan undergraduate section sang it a cappella. In Ann Arbor’s bars and clubs, encompassing live scorers, Gardner gets requests to play the song. DJs across the country, from San Francisco to Detroit, have told Gardner that they are beginning to add the song to their playlists.
and for honigford, “pump it up” isn’t going away any time soon.
“it’s pretty much stuck in the loop,” he laughed. “If I ever forgot that song, someone would always remind me of it. he is always tied to me, tied to our team. and I love it.”
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