New ‘Monday Night Football’ song: Why ESPN picked Little Richard’s ‘Rip It Up’ to replace Hank Williams Jr.

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Fans flipping on the TV to catch the 2020 debut of « Monday Night Football » will have a familiar yet unfamiliar voice to greet them on ESPN, with Hank Williams Jr. officially off ESPN’s Monday night broadcast.

The change — which ESPN says was made to reflect the lack of (or limited) fans in stands this season — came as a bit of a surprise, but it’s not the first time the network has waved goodbye to the country music singer. It’s the latest in a myriad of changes for ESPN’s Monday night offerings, which also includes a brand-new three-man booth for the 2020 season.

For the 2020 season, ESPN has released a re-recorded rendition of Little Richard’s « Rip It Up, » which will be used as the pre-game hype song for « Monday Night Football. » The revamped version of the 1956 classic features new instrumentals and backing vocals by Butcher Brown, a Virginia-based band.

ESPN said its reasoning for the song replacement is to reflect the absence of actual rowdy fans in the stands during the NFL season. 

« The new ‘Monday Night Football’ pre-kickoff hype song replaces ‘All My Rowdy Friends’ by Hank Williams Jr., as ESPN adjusted its production in reaction to no or limited fans at NFL stadiums during the COVID-19 pandemic, » ESPN’s statement reads.

The re-recording replaces Hank Williams Jr.’s « All My Rowdy Friends » — colloquially known as « Are You Ready For Some Football? » after one of the song’s dominant lyrics — which had been used by « MNF » from 1989 to 2011. Williams was reintroduced to the fold in 2017, with a remixed version of the song used from 2017 to 2019.

The six-year hiatus for the tune came after Williams Jr.’s public comments disparaging then-President Barack Obama and comparing him to Nazi Germany dictator Adolf Hitler.

« Rip It Up » stood at No. 1 for two weeks on R&B boards after its release in 1956, with various artists including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry also recording their versions of the song. Little Richard, a pioneer of rock-n-roll and one of the first members of the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, died in May 2020. 



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