For a while, it looked like controversy would surround every touchdown the New England Patriots scored against the New York Giants at Sunday's Super Bowl. According to British tabloid reports, the team was planning to play "Rock and Roll Part II" as its touchdown celebration song — a contentious choice considering that the song's writer (and original singer), '70s glam rocker Gary Glitter, is a convicted child molester. After an outcry erupted, the NFL clarified that the song has been banned from the game. How did it all go down? Here, a brief guide:
What exactly is this song?
Trust us, you'd recognize it. (Watch the music video below.) The inescapably rousing 1972 hit is often called the "Hey Song," and boasts an ear-worm of a hook that goes something like, "Da na na-nuh… HEY! Da na na-nuh..." It's long been a staple at sporting events, including NFL games, where it is often played after players score a touchdown.
And who is Gary Glitter?
"Gary Glitter," whose real name is Paul Gadd, rose to fame as a glam rock star in the 1970s, scoring over 26 hits in the U.K. between 1972 and 1995, according to the Daily Mail. He is best known in the U.S. for "Rock and Roll Part II." In 1999, Glitter was convicted of downloading over 4,000 pornographic images of children and sent to jail for four months. He was also charged with having sex with an underage girl. Then, in March 2006, Glitter was convicted of molesting two girls, aged 11 and 12, in Vietnam, and jailed for three years. Currently, he's on the sex offenders' register in Britain.
And what's the controversy?
After Glitter's most recent fall from grace in 2006, the NFL effectively banned the playing of "Rock and Roll Part II" at games, advising teams against using the track, says Fox News. "But that has not stopped teams from using a cover version of the song by other bands," most commonly a rendition by Tube Tops 2000. It was the Tube Tops' version, as reported in London's Daily Mail, that the New England squad was planning to play after its Super Bowl touchdowns. Since Glitter wrote the song, he stood to earn thousands of dollars in royalties each time it was used, says NME, a music news site.
What was the reaction to these reports?
People weren't happy. "To say we've had enough is an understatement," says Jeanne Sager at The Stir. Given recent sex-abuse scandals connected to the sports programs at Penn State and Syracuse University, "it seems even harder to forgive the Patriots for not being a little more choosey with their songs." Jamie Tripp Utitus at the New Jersey Star-Ledger encouraged readers to sign a petition to ban the song from the game: "You hear the Super Bowl will be sponsoring a pedophile's music, you say something."
So now the NFL won't be playing it?
The NFL's vice president of communications Brian McCarthy asserted Wednesday afternoon that "No version of that song ["Rock and Roll Part II"] has been played at the Super Bowl since 2006. We are not playing the song on Sunday and never intended to." Furthermore, says Doug Williams at ESPN, the Daily Mail may have mangled its facts. "The Patriots haven't used the song for years," he says, pointing out that the team has been playing Bon Jovi's "This Is Our House" after touchdowns in recent years. So what victory song will the Pats unleash on Sunday? According to the team's communications director, it "hasn't been decided."