Don't know what Kernkraft 400 is? Michigan football fans may be hearing it in their sleep
Kernkraft 400. Zombie Nation.
If those words don’t mean anything to Michigan football fans, they soon will.
You see, Kernkraft 400 - German for nuclear energy 400 - is a song released on Zombie Nation’s first album in 1999. It’s a remix of a song from the 1984 Commodore 64 game Lazy Jones by David Whittaker called "Stardust."
Still confused how it all relates? Well, Penn State blasts Kernkraft 400 at Beaver Stadium.
Like, a lot.
And during tonight’s prime-time matchup with Michigan on ESPN, it should have a little extra volume.
Associated Press college football writer Ralph D. Russo included Penn State’s personalized version of Kernkraft 400 in his list of the 12 best “unofficial fight songs” in the country.
“JoePa and techno, perfect together,” Russo wrote.
He continues: “When Penn State has it going, the sound system at Beaver Stadium starts pumping this Zombie Nation song and the fans chant along. Happy Valley certainly isn't the only place in the sports world where this song gets used, but when 100,000 or so Nittany Lions fans dressed in white start waving those white pom-pons in synch with the thumping beats, it's spellbinding.”
So if tonight's game plays out anything like last year's 35-10 Nittany Lions' win over Michigan, expect to hear it plenty during the telecast. But even a Michigan landslide victory won't keep the song completely out of rotation.
For demonstration purposes, here's a group of Penn State fans performing their version of the song. Coincidentally, it's prior to the Michigan game in 2008:
If you’re curious, here are Russo’s other entries in the top 12 unofficial fight songs, with links to examples.
â€¢ "Rocky Top." The country/bluegrass tune was recorded in 1967 by the Osborne Brothers and it was first played at a Tennessee football game by the band in 1972. And "Good ole rocky top / Rocky top Tennessee, rocky top Tennessee," has been played and played and played at Vols home games ever since. Ask SEC opponents and they'll tell you "Rocky Top" can wear you down as much one of those great Volunteer tailbacks.
â€¢ "Jump Around." House of Pain's one great contribution to hip-hop music was released in 1992 and not long after, Wisconsin used it create one of the most raucous moments in college sports. Between the third and fourth quarters, as "Jump Around" blares, Badgers fans star bouncing and Camp Randall Stadium starts shaking.
â€¢ "Also Sprach Zarathustra" aka theme to "2001: A Space Odyssey." The South Carolina Gamecocks make the most grand entrance in college football to this piece of classical music. This is probably not what Richard Strauss had in mind when he composed the work in 1896, but it's never been put to better use.
â€¢ "Tusk." The Southern California band didn't really have to adopt the Fleetwood Mac song, because it was part of the original recording for the 1979 album of the same name. The band even scored a platinum record out of the deal.
â€¢ "Take Me Home, Country Roads." Unless you've been to Milan Puskar Stadium, it might be hard to imagine this John Denver classic, released in 1971, getting football fans fired up. Not in Morgantown. The opening line says it all for Mountaineers fans, "Almost heaven, West Virginia."
â€¢ "Enter Sandman." Metallica's first huge radio hit was released in 1991 and nine years later Virginia Tech started using "Enter Sandman" as entrance music for the Hokies, turning Lane Stadium into the state's biggest mosh pit just moments before kickoff.
â€¢ "Hang on Sloopy." The McCoys, a rock band from Ohio, topped the charts in 1965 with this boppy pop song and soon after the Ohio State band started playing it at football games. It's been a staple ever since, as popular as the script Ohio. Now "Hang on Sloopy" is the official rock song of the state.
â€¢ "Sweet Home Alabama." Bryant-Denny Stadium is host to the biggest sing-along in the Deep South when Lynyrd Skynyrd's rock anthem plays. Crimson Tide fans have even put their own stamp on the song, working in a "Roll, tide, roll!" after the chorus.
â€¢ "Wabash Cannonball." The song dates back to 1882 in some form or another and it's been done and done again by artists from Bing Crosby to Woody Guthrie. But it's found a home at Kansas State, where Wildcats fans can't get enough of it, rocking back and forth to the beat to create a ripple effect in the stadium.
â€¢ "All Right Now." Stanford's band (officially, the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band) bills itself as the world's largest rock and roll band. Through the years, it's covered songs by artists from The Who to Green Day. But "All Right Now" by Free, a mainstay of classic rock radio, has become the unofficial fight song.
â€¢ Theme to "Hawaii 5-O." The theme song was one of the most distinctive in television history and it's only right that Hawaii's Warriors take the field with the band playing that wave-riding tune.