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Posted on Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Just stop 'Believin'' at Michigan Stadium - please?

By Bob Needham

Dear person who plays the recorded music at Michigan Stadium during football games,

Sorry for the vagueness. I have no idea who you are, and I have no idea what the rest of your job is. But I know that someone chooses the tunes that fill some of the down time during Michigan games. And while I'm sure you're a good person, there's one thing you do that I beg you to stop.

Journey. "Don't Stop Believin.'" "Born and raised in south Detroit."

Seriously. You are making me crazy.


Such a nice stadium. Why would you want to ruin it with Journey music?

Daniel J. Brenner | file photo

I haven't been to the Big House yet this year, so I think I sort of allowed myself to forget. But watching last week's game on TV, there it was.

Those piano chords that have created a sick feeling in my gut since I was in high school. Then that voice—Steve Perry's grating whine— "Just a city boy ..."

And then—here it comes—100,000 people singing along, "Born and raised in South Detrooooiit..."

Make it stop? Please?

First, there's the well-documented fact that there's no such place as South Detroit. And the fact that the song already gets way too much exposure at sporting events that are actually in Detroit. And the fact that Journey has no connection to Michigan.

Then there's the song. It's just terrible.

Journey has no soul. Journey is plastic, processed and packaged. Journey is the McDonald's of music. I'm tempted to compare Perry's voice to fingernails on a chalkboard, except that sound doesn't make me want to jab an X-acto knife into my temple.

At least that's how it sounds to me. I know lots of people like Journey, and to them I apologize. I think we all have bands/songs that generate this kind of reaction, and unfortunately this happens to be mine.

I'm actually going to the game today, which is why I'm bringing this up now. But it's not just about me. It's Senior Day, the last home game for Denard Robinson and other Wolverine stalwarts. If you can't do it for me, do it for Denard.

This is Michigan. Leaders and Best, right? You're better than this, and it's time to take a stand.

Yours sincerely,


P.S. Next season, could we maybe talk about "Seven Nation Army" too?

P.P.S. If you're looking for a replacement with a regional shout-out, here's one option:

So, am I wrong? Let me know what you think about the song in the comments and / or vote in the poll below:

Bob Needham is director of entertainment content for whose favorite bands in high school included the Beatles, the Clash, and Ann Arbor's own Bob Seger. Follow him on Twitter @BobNeedham.



Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 6:46 a.m.

Bob #1 You seem to be out-voted by the fans that actually attend the game and actually sing. #2 I personally like the song, but don't sing along. Actually, I really don't sing-along to any of the piped-in music. So my opinion doesn't really matter either. #3 Steve Perry consistently ranks as one of the top rock voices; and personally I think his voice is fantastic. However, I get where you come from. Ethel Merman was an extremely popular singer, Broadway, radio, movies etc; but I just cannot listen to her for any length of time. Sometimes, 5 seconds is that length. #4 Sweet Caroline has no business being played during the game. There is nothing inspiring about it; it doesn't get the 'juices' flowing. Pre-game? Maybe. But again, I am out-voted by those that choose to sing to songs at games. #5 No such thing as South Detroit. Really? If you count on music as a source of your geographical knowledge, I guess there is really nothing to say. #6 Many years ago, when Journey was touring and young bands did stuff like this, they played in a charity softball game at/near Southfield High School. I believe it was put on by WRIF. They told the DJ who was the host (don't remember who) that they had a great time and as a tribute would try to include Southfied in some future song. When Don't Stop Believing came out, they informed the DJ that Southfied was supposed to be the town in the song, but the flow didn't quite work so they morphed it into South Detroit. No I didn't make this up - I am not that imaginative. I heard it a long time ago, but I am sure it was some time after the song came out.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Thank you, thank you, Bob. That song and it's geographically-challenged line has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Especially when all the drunk white kids from the 'burbs scream along to, "south Detroit."

Doug Coombe

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.

Thank god for serious rock critics to straighten out the lowly mobs having fun.

Bob Needham

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

"Serious rock critic"?! You can't possibly be talking about me ... Doug, thanks for the comments. Good point about the Detroit market.

Doug Coombe

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:59 a.m.

Of course South Detroit doesn't exist. The beauty of this line (other than leading to an insanely catchy chorus) is that it hearkens back to an era where Detroit mattered to touring acts as a place to break nationally and it only made sense to give Motown a shoutout. J Geils and Kiss broke on a national level because of Detroit support. These days a lot of major acts just skip Detroit.

Doug Coombe

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:48 a.m.



Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

I'm with Bob on this one. The guy who wrote the song isn't from Detroit, and wasn't even in Detroit when he wrote it. "South Detroit" was just the locale that fit the tempo or whatever. It could just have easily been West LA or North New York, but instead, we got South Detroit, so everyone gets all crazy and starts singing along like a bunch of drunken sorority girls.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

I'm baffled as to why a program like Michigan would feel the need to do something fake to pump up the crowd. Not like this is Ball State or some other school that struggles to draw 10,000. Michigan has the biggest stadium in the country and sells out every game. Isn't that - and the natural environment that accompanies it - enough?


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

I love this song and feel uplifted every time I hear it.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Ditto "Sweet Caroline" Talk about insipid.

Historic District

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Yay - more grumpy Alums who "embrace" change! Go away, please. It's fun. Get over it. Turn off your hearing aids if you don't like it. Stop buying season tickets so that the young Alums can get off the season ticket waitlist.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Unlike Bob, I went to the last two games at Michigan Stadium and while I don't enjoy most of the music, the vast majority of fans actually do. They really love "Don't stop Believen". Also remember that most of the fan base who attend are the 80s and 70s music crowd. My biggest complaint is the pregame Electronica/Rap music that is very loud, but hey, most of the fans really enjoy it. So, it dawned on me sitting there around 11:30 AM and hearing that, folks were really into it and were enjoying. It is now a mute point since the next game at Michigan Stadium is in the fall of 2013. Peace.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Even back in the 70's, I thought Journey were nothing more than corporate rock shills.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

I actually don't recall the band playing the traditional "Let's Go Blue" song yesterday. Which everyone else has copied...I'm okay with some recorded music, but it's a bit like going to the clubhouse instead of the Big House these days.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

The band played "Let's go blue" before the game and it was announced to the crowd to join in.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Drunk sorority girl songs at a football game, no bueno.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:04 a.m.

Estoy de acuerdo


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

I understand not wanting to hear the song anymore. But really, those of you complaining about the use of the term "South Detroit" are just as annoying as the song. This is how language is created: someone comes up with a term for something and sometimes it becomes used to described something. Sometimes not. People just like pointing out that there isn't anyplace called South Detroit (yet) because it makes them feel smarter than the guy sitting next to them. Don't be surprised if, in 30 years, the term "Downriver" is the archaic term for "South Detroit." JUST STOP COMPLAINING! It is just a song.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

Less Journey, more Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

How about 'Take it to the Big House' by the Arboriginals? Great name by the way!


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Indifferent on Journey, but Seven Nation Army is a great song and a huge stadium song around the world.

Robert Granville

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

Exactly why we shouldn't be playing it. This IS MICHIGAN FERGODSAKES!

Kevin Ransom

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 6:39 p.m.

I'm with Bob. "Grating whine" is a proper assessment of Perry's voice, and I would also add "mewling and simpering." And, I also agree on the "South Detroit" reference. That always struck me as ignorant and lazy songwriting. Where would that be, exactly? In the middle of the Detroit River, between Hart Plaza and Windsor? These guys really were / are insufferable lightweights. They had promise at the beginning, though. For those who haven't heard them, check out their first couple of albums, which featured former Santana singer / organist Gregg Rolie on lead vocals, and had a more interesting jazz-rock / prog-rock sound.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

I like their early music but when the Aerosmith bandmembers kicked their heroin habits they lost that creative edge. "Toys in the Attic" was their last good album.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

Something by Iggy or the MC5 would be far more appropriate, considering their Ann Arbor origins, high energy & contributions to art. Journey is pap. Utter garbage, like nearly all top 40 music. "Classic" rock programmers love to torture despite the Geneva Convention.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

Hey... I was in the Michigan Marching Band (alto sax) in 1964 ('65 Rose Bowl) and I don't get this "karaoke" in The Big House thing... I don't care what song is playing. When you have a live and "in-person" 200-piece BIG band... what other musical entertainment do you need... and yes... you can sing -a-long with the band... even when they're playing something else besides "The Victors!"


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Yes, while there is no such thing as "south Detroit", I remember the first time I heard "Don't Stop Believin'" in the Big House. It was the Michigan-Michigan State game in 2004. Michigan was down by double digits in the 4th quarter and managed to come back and tie the game. It was before the days of piped in music, so it was the Michigan Marching Band playing "Don't Stop Believin'". There was no greater feeling of being in the student section singing along at the top of my lungs to cheer on those boys. We didn't stop believing that day and those boys didn't let us down. It took three overtimes, but Michigan won that day. I know the band played "Don't Stop Believin'" before then and I hope the tradition will continue on into the future.

Robert Granville

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

If the band played it instead of Special K blaring it over the PA, we wouldn't be having this discussion.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

Bob, you are spot on with regard to that horrible song. Thank you for putting my feelings into words!

richard hadler

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

play the local boy. Iggy and the Stooges "Search and Destroy" would be just peachy with me.

Hot Sam

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Or "1969" when OSU comes to town!!!


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

I say let the band provide most of the musical entertainment, and just do something once or twice a game that will really get people pumped (sort of like "Jump" at Camp Randall in Madison).


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 3 p.m.

Like many things at Michigan stadium, it is a rip off. I'm sure the Chicago White Sox would love their journey song back. The University of Washington, would love their "wave" back. Penn State would love to get the song, "7 Nation Army" back too. Maybe this story, should concentrate on original things Michigan fans, and Michigan stadium can do.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

7 Nation Army is a song by a Michigander--Jack White. If anything it is Penn State who is borrowing the song.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Journey is what Journey is, plus the ladies love them. I think this little diddy is better for Detroit teams in Detroit stadiums. I would also like to argue that if we go off the hub of Grand Circus park, you can find some residential properties south of there within the city limits. Alternatively, south Detroit could reference towns such as Taylor and Lincoln Park and the rest of the downriver area. Oh and Bob, regardless of our difference of opinion on this song or the band, "I'm forever yours....faithfully"


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Nobody born and raised in Detroit considers Taylor or Lincoln Park "Detroit". They are suburbs. When I was growing up in Detroit's "west side" I never heard the term "south Detroit". That's because if you look south from downtown you see Windsor...and they definitely don't consider themselves south Detroit.

Bob Needham

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

By the way, I've added a poll to make it easier to point out what a bonehead I am.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

The reason "I don't like it" is the lyrics to that song. It tells a sad story of a runaway who took a midnight train going anywhere. It seems to indicate who ever this runaway is was lead in to a life of prostitution and darkness. I understand the "Born and raised in South Detroit" shout out, but a song with a happy story would be more appropriate to use at a sporting event then this one. Unfortunately the lyrics of that song tell a true story of real life situations in yester-year when it was produced, and in the present time. The dark disgusting life that is being described in that song is being lived by lost teenagers and young adults across the Country.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

You seem to have missed the title ofthe song and the chorus, "Don't stop believing". Its trying to inspire you that good things are coming your way. Like believe we can get another playoff win, the South Detroit line just makes it fit better for a Detroit team as opposed to a San Diego team.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

I've lived in AA for 25+ years and never knew such horrors exist within city limits let alone in the stadium. I believed football and other sports were played in the stadium. Now I learn about the music and that 110k people are given a collective ear wash. The football Saturday arrest reports make more sense now. These were the people trying to flee the stadium before they receive a lethal dose of '80's rock. Add this to the demise of Twinkies and it adds up to a very sad week indeed.

Bob Needham

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Arrest reports! You're on to something!

Robert Granville

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Not to mention the terrible timing of the song last week during a key drive. Nobody who knows football is thinking hmmm I'd love to hear some Journey when the game is on the line. AC/DC has a repertoire of songs appropriate for such close defensive battles.

Robert Granville

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

A Million Times YESSSS! No more Journey and no more Seven Nation Army.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

And how about Walk of Life by the Dire Straits?

Bob Needham

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Ha! I myself actually love that one, but I know it does make some people crazy.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Maybe you should get a clue Bob. Do you think the 100,000 fans you mention singing along are just having fun? I know there's no such place as South Detroit and I imagine most of those people do too but it nicer hearing them sing along with that than shouting obscenities.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

I'm glad you have a good sense of humor Bob. Thanks for the chuckles this morning.

Bob Needham

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Good points, WalkingJoe. And yes, I've needed a clue for many years now.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Exactly. I think it's pretty much common knowledge that the "South Detroit" thing just made for a good lyric. Even though (being a former MMB member) I would personally prefer that just the MMB provided all the music during the game, the occasional rock music interlude, whether Journey or 7 Nation Army, is not all that bad if it brings people together and lifts up the energy. Every week I see both of these songs do that in the stadium.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Right on brother! Lordy, there is nothing inspiring, factually accurate or invigorating about that song. It's "whiney" and it deflates the energy of the stadium. There is nothing wrong with an insipid pop tune, but some or more insipid than others and "believing" takes the cake. Now Martha and the Vandellas? That actually might get 114,000 people on their feet. I LOVE that idea. P.S. I have to say, I do like 7 nation army. ;-)


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Dancing In The Street is fine at the end of a game or once the outcome is decided, but not whilst the game is still in doubt. I do agree that this song is overplayed. It should be reserved for Wings games and that's it.

Bob Needham

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Oooh, I wish I'd written the "There is nothing wrong ... " line. Nice.