Familiar pop tunes with Badger-themed lyrics drifted through Union South’s plaza Tuesday night as a variety of student and Greek organizations took part in University of Wisconsin Homecoming week’s “Yell Like Hell” event.
One of UW’s oldest Homecoming traditions, teams participating in Yell Like Hell take a song and change the song’s lyrics to parodies involving UW or Homecoming, Chris Ruska, UW Homecoming Committee president, said.
UW is currently celebrating its 103rd Homecoming event.
All teams perform their songs a capella, Ruska said. Three judges on a panel give feedback to participants and determine a winner.
Yell Like Hell began around 1915 and originally involved students making chants to stir up energy and spirit, Ruska said.
However, today, Yell Like Hell now embodies more pop culture, he added.
“I think it’s a really great way to get the student body excited for the week,” Ruska said. “It brings a lot of people together– a lot of different Greek teams, student organizations. You get a lot of different bodies of students together that might not necessarily be at the same place and you get to hear them be creative and think about UW and the ways UW has impacted their life.”
Shannon Luschen, Homecoming Committee president for Pi Beta Phi, said the sorority participates in Yell Like Hell because they are very excited about Homecoming and school spirit.
“Yell Like Hell is really fun,” Luschen said. “It gets a little competitive spirit going.”
Pi Phi’s team won the competition last year and were looking to do it again by spinning Icona Pop’s “I Love It” into a song about sustainability, showing how Badgers care and give back, Luschen said.
However, the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board took first place with its rendition of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Like many of the other participating teams, WASB participates in the event every year.
“There’s just so much fun Badger pride that goes along with Yell Like Hell, it’s a lot of fun and people always come out and are really silly,” Natalie Bowman, a member of WASB’s team, said.
Mike Fahey, Wisconsin Alumni Association managing director, reflected on the days he participated in Yell Like Hell as a student living in Kronshage Hall. Fahey said he participated in the 1986 event, which took place at Memorial Union at the time, and won.
Yell like Hell was a “unifying experience for everyone,” even though it was a “bit silly,” he said.
While other Homecoming traditions have changed, Yell Like Hell is one of the things that has stayed the same, Fahey said, and it is a great tradition he looks forward to continuing.
Yell Like Hell is geared toward the outward expression of being a Badger, with all the fun and all the yelling, Ruska said.