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Power Ranking The Five Most Recent THON Line Dances

The line dance: A time-honored tradition of THON since 1976. While it began as simply a chant in the tune of a hit song at the time, it has grown into an elaborate combination of contemporary tunes, pop cultural references, and lyrical prowess. In particular, the past five years have been remarkable for the line dance. As a symbol of THON, many look to the line dance to set the mood for THON weekend, as it will be repeated 46 times in 46 hours.

However, not all line dances are created equal. Thus I present the unofficial power ranking of the past five years of line dances, from 2011 through 2015.

5. THON 2015

I hate to kick off this post with a downer, but the unlucky truth is that this line dance just doesn’t stack up against previous years. This isn’t to say that it isn’t catchy, or that it doesn’t contain some clever references. The beat always catches my attention, and any verse that can slyly discuss Ebola is pretty sharp in my book.

However, in my opinion, the heart of the line dance lies in its chorus and its dance break — and unfortunately, this line dance excels with neither. The chorus is rather choppy and repetitive, containing only one truly full sentence, and then cluttered by fragments. And the dance break is fun, as always, but too much — you shouldn’t try to jam four songs into one dance break. I only need one song to show off my skillful dance moves. Also, constantly cutting off songs gets very annoying, very quickly.

4. THON 2014

Following closely behind this year’s line dance in the weakest slot is last year’s, and for many of the same reasons — a cluttered dance break and barely memorable chorus. The only thing that saved this line dance was the chorus’s kick-off line, “Hey THON, bust a move / Turn it up, now freeze!” It’s incredibly catchy, and is easy to remember, one of the most important qualities of a line dance.

The chorus ultimately flopped, though, primarily because of the line, “For the kids we be rockin’ / Dancin’, we’re never stoppin.'” It is just awkward and never quite flowed.

However, this line dance’s saving grace was its wonderful political references, and the dance moves for the line, “Beyoncé proves that she’s the queen / Gatsby runs the party scene.”

3. THON 2011

The line dance of 2011 is catchy, upbeat, and utilizes some great lyrics — if only it were a little slower and easier to understand, it might place higher in the list. The chorus is wonderful: “Penn State, can you feel it? / We got that dancin’ spirit!” The fact that the lines don’t perfectly rhyme makes it a little jilted, but the overall atmosphere of the entire line dance is one that we need to strive for in future years. It’s light-hearted, fast-paced, but not overly difficult.

2. THON 2013

This line dance holds somewhat of a special place in my heart — in 2013, I was a moraler, and so I got to learn this dance and spend THON weekend teaching it to my dancer. One of the best features of this year’s dance was the long intro dedicated to stretching and shaking all the tension. In general, the entire dance was a really continuous piece, lyrically and physically. Just look at the movements between “Phelps swims for 22,” and “Usain bolts out of shoes” — seamless.

Also, this is arguably the most unforgettable chorus. Ever. Case closed.

1. THON 2012

This is, without a doubt, the best line dance in the past five years of THON, and perhaps in its history. The chorus is the perfect combination of chant and lyric, and the lines are clever and sassy (“Kim and Kris, well that was fast!”). Don’t even get me started on the dance break — while the dance break in 2011 may have kickstarted the concept, 2012’s revolutionized it. Only one song utilized for it, with a handful of dance moves, and you’ve got the perfect THON line dance breakdown.

I may be a bit biased because this is the first line dance I ever saw — but it genuinely rises above the rest, in all categories of dance style, lyrical analysis, and just general badassery.

Photo: Alex Bauer/Onward State

About the Author

Jessica Myers

Jess graduated in May 2015, with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in English, and with two minors in Latin and Art History. When she says she's "shippin' up to Boston," she's not just singing the song -- she's actually attending Northeastern University this fall to pursue her master's degree. You can follow her shenanigans at her site, http://www.jessicarmyers.com.

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