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‘Genius Lyrics’ Breakdown Of THON 2022’s Line Dance

A new THON means a new line dance. As always, Onward State is here to offer the inside scoop and explain every reference included in this year’s set of lyrics.

From Carl Nassib to Betty White and even a plea for an NFT explanation, THON created a robust compilation of 2021’s events. Here is the meaning behind each lyric:

Verse 1: Penn State

Arboretum breaks new ground // Men’s soccer, Big Ten crown

The Arboretum opened a new branch in June. Its new Pollinator and Bird Garden ushered in birds and new blooming flowers. Over the next couple of years, the Arboretum will continue to change, with a new Palmer Museum of Art and further expansions on the way.

In November, Penn State men’s soccer won its first Big Ten title since 2005 after defeating Indiana 3-0. The Nittany Lions, who were also crowned regular-season champions, did not allow a single goal throughout the entirety of the Big Ten Tournament.

Are you running late to class? // Grab a Spin bike, get there fast

Earlier this year, Penn State introduced a new bike-sharing program. Spin bikes are available to rent at a low (and sometimes free) cost. The service has generated a cult following since the program’s implementation in August.

Wellness Fund, breakthrough // Prevail together, PSU

UPUA passed a resolution creating a Wellness Fund in September. The fund, supported by the 2022 class gift, allocated $10,000 to help students cover bills from UHS that they could not afford. The bill passed unanimously.

The second line in this lyric refers to Homecoming’s 2021 theme, “Together, State Prevails”.

President Barron’s final year // Dr. Bendapudi’s here

In February, current Penn State President Eric Barron announced his plans to retire in June 2022. Barron accepted the Penn State job in 2014, as was broken by a certain student media outlet.

In November, Barron’s replacement was announced: Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, the former president of the University of Louisville – also broken by a very special student media outlet. Bendapudi will take office in May.

Nassib makes Penn State prouder // Students show Love is Louder

Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman and former Nittany Lion Carl Nassib made history in June when he became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Since coming out, Nassib has been a strong advocate for his community and the Trevor Project, a charity dedicated to preventing LGBT teen suicide.

In response to an on-campus speaking appearance by controversial figure Milo Yiannopoulos, Penn State’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity hosted an event titled “Love is Louder.” The event celebrated love and community within Penn State’s student body. Hundreds of students ended up attending the November event.

El Jefe’s we adore // Pass-fail grading — no more

El Jefe’s, a Mexican restaurant, opened in downtown State College in May. It became the first retail establishment to open underneath a new set of apartments.

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State introduced an alternative grading plan that allowed students to receive modifications to their letter grades. That policy was repealed for the fall semester of 2021.

Coach Rose legend, best alive // BJC the big 2-5

After 43 seasons with Penn State’s women’s volleyball team, head coach Russ Rose announced his retirement. During his time in Happy Valley, Rose coached the team to seven national championships, 17 Big Ten titles, and an NCAA Division I record 1,330 wins.

The Bryce Jordan Center, home of THON, celebrated 25 years of history in 2021. Opened in 1996, among the events hosted by the BJC are: basketball, wrestling, volleyball, concerts, stand-up comedy, monster trucks, WWE, and of course, THON.

Rookies, stats are packed // Gates are open, Beaver’s back!

Penn State’s 2021 NFL draft class was full of players who made instant impacts. Dallas Cowboys All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons became the first-ever unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year, after revitalizing the Cowboys’ formerly abysmal defense. Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Odafe Oweh earned AFC Player of the Week honors in September. Additionally, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth finished the season with more touchdowns than every other rookie tight end combined.

After a season of football attended exclusively by cardboard cutouts, Beaver Stadium welcomed back fans for the 2021 season. Beaver Stadium had the second-highest average attendance in college football. Despite the support, a strong start gave way to a late-season collapse, as James Franklin’s squad finished the year 7-6.

Verse 2: World Events

Juneteenth federal holiday // Tutu’s voice is here to stay

In June, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution to acknowledge Juneteenth as a national holiday. It became the first new nationally recognized holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of American slaves.

Reverend Desmond Tutu died in December 2021 at age 90. Tutu was a civil rights activist instrumental in opposing South Africa’s discriminatory apartheid laws.

Simone Biles stands for change // Mental wellness in the games

Gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the 2020 Summer Olympics (postponed to 2021), citing mental health concerns after the passing of her aunt and a case of the “twisties.” Known as one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, Biles drew praise for her open discussion of the situation. Biles’ decision sparked a nationwide discussion about the mental health of athletes.

Swap your summer, winter gear // Two Olympics, one year

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed to 2021. The 2022 Winter Olympics began on February 4, 2022.

As a result of the postponement, both Olympics, usually two years apart, took place within six months of one another. Thus, two Olympics in one year.

High jumpers share the gold // Vaccines now for young and old

In the 2020 Summer Olympics, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi were locked in a war of attrition. The two high jumpers were tied for first, despite multiple rounds attempting to decide the gold medal winner. A sudden death jump-off was set to begin until the two athletes were informed there was a procedure that would allow for both to be named winners. The two took the offer and emotionally hugged in celebration as shared gold medal recipients.

COVID-19 vaccines were approved for children between the ages of 5 and 11, in November. Vaccines are available for free in nearly every area of the United States and with vaccination rates rising, many hope that the pandemic’s end is on the horizon.

Ohtani puts on a Sho // Tom Brady’s final throw

No, that’s not a typo, it’s a pun on the name of Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani. The dynamic pitcher rose to superstardom because of his historic two-way ability, showing elite pitching and hitting skills – a rarity in professional baseball. Ohtani was named the 2021 AL MVP and was the first player in MLB history to be selected to the All-Star Game as both a pitcher and hitter.

Almost universally recognized as the greatest player in NFL history, Tom Brady retired after 22 seasons. Brady finished his career with seven Super Bowl titles, more than any NFL team, and an NFL record 84,520 career passing yards. Though, speculation is mounting that Brady may return for yet another season.

GameStop rises, grab your stock // Ship in Suez, six-day block

GameStop stock soared in January 2021. Over two weeks, the video game company’s stock increased by 1500%. At its peak, the stock was worth over $500 per share.

For six days in March, a ship ran aground and blocked all nautical travel through the Suez Canal. The global economy was impacted, but more importantly, the Internet had a field day week making fun of the predicament.

Former royals spill the tea // Curry, king of threes

In March, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle took part in a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey. The conversation focused on the couple’s decision to step down as members of the British royal family. Over the course of the conversation, both Harry and Meghan made critical comments about the monarchy.

Point guard Steph Curry became the NBA’s all-time leader in career three-pointers in November. The Golden State Warrior’s career total now sits at 3,083.

Messi leaves for PSG // What the heck are NFTs?

International soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s contract with FC Barcelona expired and shocked the world when he found a new home for the first time since signing with Barcelona as a 16-year-old. In August, Messi signed with PSG, a team in France’s top soccer league.

NFT is an acronym for “Non-Fungible Token,” a term to describe unique, digital files that can be purchased for exclusive ownership rights. One of the most famous sets of NFTs is called the Bored Ape Yacht Club. In October, a particular Bored Ape sold for nearly $3.5 million.

Verse 3: Pop Culture

Bones or no bones? Pug decides // Squid Game record high

Noodle, a pug of TikTok fame, sparked a nationwide superstition. The 13-year-old dog’s owner filmed and posted him daily. If Noodle was able to successfully stand up, the day was considered a “Bones Day,” a sign encouraging activity. If Noodle fell down, it was a “No Bones Day,” a sign to stay inside and take it slow.

“Squid Games” debuted on Netflix in September. It quickly became Netflix’s most-watched series ever with 142 million households tuning in worldwide. A sequel has been rumored to be in development.

Madden reaches generations // “Sour” album rocks the nation

Legendary football coach and broadcaster John Madden died, in December, at the age of 85. Tributes were made across sports leagues of all kinds. The massively successful “Madden” video game franchise has been credited with making insider knowledge about football more accessible to the general public.

In May, Olivia Rodrigo released her debut studio album: “SOUR.” With hit songs like “drivers license” and “good 4 u,” Rodrigo rocketed to the top of the charts and earned herself two Grammy nominations. The Disney actress will find out her Grammy results in April.

“All Too Well,” 10 minutes long // Coney Island, bing bong!

In the wake of an ownership dispute over her songs’ master recordings, Taylor Swift released re-recordings of songs from her early career. One, “All Too Well,” came with a 10-minute version that topped the charts. The song was released alongside a short film starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien.

A viral TikTok series titled “Sidetalk” showed interviews with random New Yorkers. One of the more famous editions included a man shouting “bing bong.” Apparently, the refrain stems from the sound of the New York subway’s reminder to avoid the closing doors. Bing Bong.

Betty golden ’til the end // Thank you for being a…

Less than three weeks from her 100th birthday, legendary actress Betty White died in her sleep. The Golden Girls star was the subject of jokes about her immortality for years.

Friends, Potter back at last // Don’t Look Up, all-star cast

The cast of the Harry Potter film series reunited onscreen for its 20th anniversary. The conversations between Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and more drew tons of viewers and even more media attention.

Penn Stater and Oscar winner Adam McKay, who directed “Anchorman” and “The Big Short,” released his latest film “Don’t Look Up” in late 2021. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep, “Don’t Look Up” picked up four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

JoJo’s pride inspires all // Simmons, please dunk the ball!

Viral YouTube sensation JoJo Siwa came out as part of the LGBT community in January 2021. The 18-year-old was included on TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list in 2020 and has a rumored net worth of $20 million.

Philadelphia’s nightmare is over. The contentious relationship between Philly and Ben Simmons came to an end when the 6’11” point guard was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. However, we won’t soon forget Simmons passing up a wide-open dunk in the playoffs against the Hawks.

Kim K couples up with Pete // Kanye moves across the street

A public controversy beginning weeks before THON included two surprising names: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Okay, maybe not that surprising, but noteworthy nonetheless.

Following Kim and Kanye’s 2021 divorce, it appeared the two were on good terms, with Kim even attending listening parties for Kanye’s most recent studio album, “Donda”. The situation became tense when Kim and SNL alum Pete Davidson began dating. Kanye has since moved in across the street from the house of his ex-wife and children while posting on social media about Kim and Pete nonstop.

“No Way Home” live-action meme // Lawsuit battle, guess who’s free?

For those of you who have not seen Spider-Man: No Way Home, spoilers are approaching.

Spider-Man: No Way Home introduced the multiverse to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that development, former Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield joined current Peter Parker, Tom Holland, onscreen at the same time. The crossover drew comparisons to the viral meme of two identical Spider-Men pointing at one another.

In November 2021, a court finally ended Britney Spears’ conservatorship under her father, following a years-long legal battle and public outcry. Spears was involuntarily placed under the conservatorship of her father due to concerns about her wellbeing. Opponents, known as the #FreeBritney movement, argued Spears’ situation was abusive and controlling.


That does it for this year’s line dance! Keep an ear out for it, as we are set to hear it 46 times over this THON weekend.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science and minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate comments can be directed to [email protected] or @TheSammer88 on all social media platforms.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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