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‘Genius Lyrics’ Breakdown Of THON 2023’s Line Dance

One of the highlights of THON every year is the annual line dance. Once again, Onward State is here with a cheat sheet for every reference that this year’s lyrics possess.

From Canyon Pizza to Will Smith and even a shoutout to ChatGPT, this year’s line dance recapped some of 2022’s most notable highlights. Here’s what each line means:

Verse 1: Penn State

Arts Fest highlight of the summer // Pause on Canyon, what a bummer

After a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arts Fest made its triumphant return in the summer of 2022. Arts Fest celebrated the creative styles of countless artists all throughout State College.

Beloved campus pizza shop Canyon Pizza temporarily shut its doors when the State College Borough caught wind of 13 health code violations. After two weeks, Canyon’s lights came back on, and Penn Staters are free to return to one of downtown’s best late-night pizza spots.

Wrestling golden reputation // Sign the beam, new foundation

Unsurprisingly, Penn State wrestling’s dynasty under Cael Sanderson continued in 2022. The Nittany Lions secured its ninth team national championship and five individual national championships in March. Penn State’s reputation is still going strong, remaining undefeated so far this season as well as in its last 43 duals.

Tenants of East Halls were invited to sign beams before they were included in the construction of new buildings in their area of campus. The renovations in East are just one example of the changing skyline in State College. Penn State has seen its fair share of construction projects throughout the year, as has downtown State College.

Village Plaque, pledge for better // One community, home forever

UPUA installed a plaque on the ground level of the HUB to commemorate the 2001 Village Protest at Penn State. During the demonstration, students sat-in for 10 days in protest of a Black man’s race-related death.

Penn State’s 2022 Homecoming theme was “One Community, Forever a Home,” symbolizing the community aspects of the university’s Homecoming festivities. The theme was revealed during THON 2022 Weekend.

We complete, PSU // Giant snowball coming through

The Class of 2023’s class gift was announced as going toward the university’s “Complete Penn State” program. The program supports students that face financial difficulties that could impact their graduation timeline.

Although Penn State didn’t see the academic year’s first snow day until the spring semester, snow began falling in the fall. When the wintery conditions arrived, a cohort of students took advantage by rolling an enormous snowball into the HUB before abandoning it. We wouldn’t be surprised if the viral moment sparks copycats.

Harlow’s Movin’ to first class // Weekend finals, yeah I’ll pass

After logging multiple hit songs from 2020 to 2022, rapper Jack Harlow was announced as Movin’ On 2022’s headliner. Bonus points to THON for a first class pun, referencing Harlow’s two-times platinum, Grammy-nominated single “First Class.”

During finals week of the fall semester, a snow and ice storm made its way into State College. With the semester’s ending impossible to push back, the university was forced to get creative. Exams scheduled for the impacted Thursday were rescheduled to either Friday or Saturday — not exactly popular with students…

SPA shows pride, RuPaul Queens // Can I get more Cane’s sauce please?

In April 2022, Penn State’s Student Programming Association hosted members of the hit TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Organized alongside Opulence, the university’s premier Drag Ambassadors Club, the event was part of campus’ Pride Month celebration.

Fast food chicken joint Raising Cane’s made its downtown State College debut in June. Among its popular offerings are the restaurant’s signature Cane’s sauce.

Lululemon, let’s camp out // Think fast, run fast, Chad tries out

In August, popular (and expensive) activewear brand Lululemon announced a Penn State collection would be available for purchase at Family Clothesline in downtown State College. Customers erected a long line at the doors in preparation for the sale. Family Clothesline has since hosted three more Lululemon sales.

Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning went undercover during Penn State football’s walk-on run-on tryouts in an ESPN prank that went viral in September. Donning a disguise and assuming a fake identity, Manning transformed into Chad Powers. Powers’ muttered “think fast, run fast” mantra captured the attention of college football fans nationwide and sparked a very lucrative marketing campaign to support the Nittany Lions’ non-scholarship players.

34 repped in Cali // Smell the roses, Happy Valley

Legendary Penn State running back Franco Harris died in December at the age of 72. As one of the many tributes to the program legend, the Nittany Lions roster and staff all wore No. 34 jerseys when arriving to the Rose Bowl.

Speaking of the Rose Bowl, the Nittany Lions comfortably took care of business against Utah in January, winning 35-21. Behind strong offensive performances from sixth-year senior quarterback Sean Clifford and true freshman running back Nick Singleton, Penn State picked up its second all-time Rose Bowl victory.

Verse 2: World Events

Population hits 8 bill // Gen Z voted to the Hill

In November, the United Nations projected the Earth’s population would hit eight billion people. The world is projected to hit nine billion humans somewhere between 2030 and 2050, according to the UN.

Maxwell Frost became the first member of Generation Z (born 1997-2012) elected to Congress during the 2022 midterms. Frost was elected to represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District.

Queen of England’s Jubilee // Platinum in her legacy

Queen Elizabeth II of England died of natural causes at the age of 96 after ruling as the country’s monarch since 1952. In February, seven months before her death, England held a Platinum Jubilee to celebrate her 70th year as queen and her status as the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Biden and Zelenskyy meet // Iran women take the street

On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, launching a war that continues to this day. United States President Joe Biden hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House in December to discuss the war and show public support for Ukraine.

In protest of the Iranian regime’s treatment of female citizens and mandatory hijab laws, citizens took to the country’s streets to call for reform beginning in September 2022. Led by female organizers, the Iranian protests have turned into a national movement against the regime. Since the demonstrations began, 488 citizens have been killed and thousands have been arrested, according to human rights groups.

Justice Jackson, all rise // Aaron Judge, homers fly

After the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a vacancy was opened on the United States’ top court. President Joe Biden nominated Kentanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed in April.

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge broke the American League’s all-time record for home runs. After hitting his 62nd home run on October 4, Judge secured the accolade. Though with his history-chasing at-bats cutting into Penn State football telecasts, it’s safe to say some Nittany Lion fans may not have felt overly congratulatory.

Tennis legends closing serve // Patagonia fights for Earth

Two of tennis’ greatest-ever athletes, Serena Williams and Roger Federer, announced their retirements in 2022. With 73 solo titles, Williams retires as one of the most prolific players in the sport’s history and one of the most iconic female athletes ever. Federer won 103 solo titles over his career, earning more than $130 million.

Yvon Chouinard, the billionaire owner of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, announced he would give away ownership of the company to a trust and nonprofit organization. The move was said to ensure all company profits would be directed toward fighting climate change.

Bald eagles’ numbers soar // Did we knock on Cleo’s Door?

Despite spending years on the endangered species list, bald eagles experienced something of a minor comeback over the past year. Once boasting a population of just 400, there are now over 300,000 bald eagles in the world. Too bad the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t undergo a similar comeback.

In November, archaeologists believed they may have discovered Egyptian queen Cleopatra’s tomb. The discovery of a remote tunnel in Egypt brings researchers closer than ever before in recorded history.

Webb’s Cosmos shown in color // GPT the AI Scholar

NASA’s Webb Telescope began transmitting photos of deep space back to Earth in 2022. The Webb Telescope’s vibrant photos of distant galaxies are some of the most powerful ever.

Artificial intelligence exploded in 2022 with the advent of tools like Dall-E Mini. Arguably no tool has generated more controversy than ChatGPT, however, as some students have used the interactive language model to skirt plagiarism checks.

Messi best in the arena // Vamos vamos Argentina!

Soccer legend Lionel Messi finally hoisted the first World Cup of his career when Argentina defeated France on penalties in the 2022 tournament final. Messi finished the tournament with 690 minutes played, seven goals, three assists, and the Golden Ball award for the World Cup’s best player.

Verse 3: Pop Culture

Bachelorette, now there’s two // Minions suited up for Gru

ABC’s TV show “The Bachelorette” featured two bachelorettes for the first time in series history. The confusing structure saw both bachelorettes eventually find partners, but many fans were left confused by the decision to have two protagonists.

Dreamworks’ hit motion picture “Minions: The Rise of Gru” climbed into the box office’s top five for the year. But its cultural impact extended further than perhaps initially expected. Videos flooded social media featuring moviegoers dressed in their Sunday best, showing deference to the yellow banana lovers. Some movie theaters deemed the trend a distraction and barred suit-wearers from entering.

Miles’ mustache stole our hearts // Nicki, SZA top the charts

When the hit movie franchise “Top Gun” saw a sequel in May 2022 with “Top Gun: Maverick”, it garnered a lot of attention from media and fans alike. Arguably the most popular aspect of the new film was movie star Miles Teller’s mustache. “Top Gun: Maverick” earned the second-most of any film at the box office and Teller’s facial hair earned him heartthrob status. My girlfriend will be the first to tell you…

Rapper Nicki Minaj and pop artist SZA were among the year’s top-selling musical artists. Minaj released “Super Freaky Girl,” which shot up to the No. 1 spot on the charts — the third No. 1 song of her career. Similarly, SZA released a long-anticipated album entitled “SOS,” which spent weeks atop the charts.

Phillies dancing on their own // MSG, Harry’s Home

The Philadelphia Phillies won the National League in 2022, earning a berth in the World Series against the Houston Astros. After five games, the Phillies lost the series at a 4-2 disadvantage. Other championship teams from Philadelphia suffered similar fates.

Grammy-winning solo artist and former One Direction frontman Harry Styles made history when he played 15 consecutive shows inside Madison Square Garden. Each of the nights were sold out and the residency received a banner hung in MSG’s rafters. Props to THON for yet another pun, referencing Styles’ most recent album, “Harry’s House.”

Show your outfit on rushTok // Will gets mad, Chris gets rocked

In greek life spheres, each semester is kicked off with rush proceedings, where students begin the process of joining various societies. A subset of TikTok posts, aptly dubbed “RushTok,” showed off users’ outfits ahead of their rush events.

At the 2022 Oscars ceremony, actor Will Smith rushed the stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock. The moment was one of the most discussed stories in entertainment this past year and eventually resulted in Smith being banned from future ceremonies for a decade –– but not before he accepted the award for Best Actor.

Lea Michele, Broadway’s choice // Elvis rizz, Austin’s voice

Former Glee actress Lea Michele was tabbed for the role of Fanny Brice in the ongoing Broadway production of “Funny Girl.” Michele’s character in Glee canonically aspired to be cast as Fanny, proving art imitates life. A social media trend accusing Michele of being illiterate only increased the celebrity’s visibility.

For starters, “rizz” is a new slang word circulating on the Internet that means something along the lines of romantic charisma or attractiveness. Actor Austin Butler’s Oscar-nominated performance as Elvis Presley tugged at viewers’ heartstrings, marking the line dance’s second heartthrob reference.

Swifties cancel Ticketmaster // Someone make the queue go faster!

When global sensation Taylor Swift announced her latest concert tour, her fans –– “swifties” –– rushed to Ticketmaster to secure their spots in stadiums across the country. The demand for Swift tickets overwhelmed Ticketmaster’s system, leaving millions unhappy.

Left in the queue with no alternative option, fans sued the ticketing company. In January, the U.S. Senate held a judiciary committee hearing about overall dissatisfaction with the corporation.

Wednesday Addams rise to fame // Twitter checkmarks any name

Netflix released the TV series “Wednesday” in November, and it has already developed a devoted fanbase. Following Wednesday Addams of Addams Family fame, the show stars Jenna Ortega as her character comes of age when she’s sent to her parents’ old boarding school.

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter became official in October, and the Tesla CEO immediately instituted changes to the social media company’s landscape. Introducing Twitter Blue, Musk allowed users to pay a monthly fee in order to receive a blue verification checkmark, spurning countless examples of online hijinks.

Got the Wordle, took three tries // Wait hold up it’s BeReal time

New York Times word-guessing game Wordle picks a new five-letter word daily. As all users worldwide are tasked with solving the same puzzle, players shared their results with friends and social media.

Another technological sensation was new social media app BeReal. Sending a notification to the whole world simultaneously, users have a small window to post an immediate selfie of themselves showing off what they’re doing at that exact time.


We’ve already seen the line dance four times so far this weekend, with many more to come. Check out our live blog for minute-by-minute updates from THON 2023.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

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

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