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

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GUY RAZ, Host:

This is the sound of college basketball, so is this.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE)

RAZ: And when a game comes down to the final seconds, this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

RAZ: But as NPR's Mike Pesca discovered at the NCAA men's tournament, over the last few days, increasingly there's one sound that's become dominant.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MIKE PESCA: Come March, they call it madness, but you could say they've gone gaga.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PESCA: Band directors say some Gaga is practically a requirement. Old Dominion director of athletic bands Alex Trevino explains the music's popularity.

ALEX TREVINO: The beat, the speed, the tonality of what she does. I mean, she's got a melody, and she's got a lot of chords underneath what she's doing. So it provides a lot of information for us to work with when we play. Otherwise, it would just be a melody, a bass line and drums, and that's not really filled out enough for what we do.

PESCA: Plus, adds Alex Apfel, saxophone player with the Bucknell band...

ALEX APFEL: It also helps when people actually know the song. Lady Gaga is everywhere now. She's a phenomenon.

PESCA: And enthusiastic musicians are a key element to pep band success. Take Robin Phillips and her Missouri bandmates.

ROBIN PHILLIPS: Everybody was, like, oh, my god, Robin, did you hear we're playing Gaga?

PESCA: Oh, my god, did you hear we're playing Sousa? Doesn't exactly send clarinet reeds a-vibratin' anymore.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PESCA: Unidentified Man #1: This is a Lady Gaga-off. We're going to duel Lady Gagas.

PESCA: Unidentified Man #4: If they want to play, we'll play.

PESCA: Unidentified Man #5: One, two, three, four.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST DANCE")

LADY GAGA: (Singing) Just dance, gonna be okay, da da doo-doo-mmm. Just dance, spin that record, babe, da da doo-doo-mmm. Just dance, gonna be okay. Just, just, just dance. Dance, dance.

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