At The NCAA Tournament, Pep Bands Go Gaga The sounds of Lady Gaga are ubiquitous during this year's version of March Madness — but not her slick recorded versions. For college bands across the country, covers of the pop artist's songs are practically required.
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At The NCAA Tournament, Pep Bands Go Gaga

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At The NCAA Tournament, Pep Bands Go Gaga

At The NCAA Tournament, Pep Bands Go Gaga

At The NCAA Tournament, Pep Bands Go Gaga

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/134709325/134714625" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Butler band performs during the first half of Saturday's NCAA Tournament game against Pittsburgh. Every band but one that came to the rounds in Washington, D.C., covered a song by Lady Gaga. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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Alex Brandon/AP

The Butler band performs during the first half of Saturday's NCAA Tournament game against Pittsburgh. Every band but one that came to the rounds in Washington, D.C., covered a song by Lady Gaga.

Alex Brandon/AP

Lady Gaga has become an unlikely source of pep band covers at this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images hide caption

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Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

A new star has emerged from the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament over the past few days.

No, not BYU's super-shooter Jimmer Fredette, or even Butler's last-second specialist Matt Howard.

The star who's really inescapable? Lady Gaga.

Arenas across the country are rocking out on the tournament's opening weekend — but not to the slick, dance-happy recorded versions of the singer's hits. It's the pep bands that are delivering those songs, complete with marchable rhythms and blaring horns. Of the eight college bands that trekked to Washington, D.C., for example, only Cincinnati came without a Gaga cover.

"The beat, the speed, the tonality of what she does" all make Gaga a natural choice for pep bands, Old Dominion band director Alex Trevino tells NPR's Mike Pesca.

At one point, during an opening-day timeout, ODU was challenged to a Gaga-off by the Butler band across the arena.

"If they want to play, we'll play!" a band member shouted, before his compadres launched into "Bad Romance."

"It also helps when people actually know the song," says Bucknell saxophonist Alex Apfel. "Lady Gaga's everywhere."

That means it's not just fans who get excited about Gaga arrangements — it's band members, too.

"Oh my God, did you hear we're playing Gaga?" was the refrain when Robin Phillips and her University of Missouri bandmates got the news.

You just don't hear "Oh my God, did you hear we're playing Sousa?" these days.