After Michael Jackson’s mother called the director and two consecutive halftime shows went viral, it seems the Ohio State Marching Band might be starting a streak to rival that of the undefeated football team.
A BuckeyeTV video of a Michael Jackson tribute halftime show during the OSU football game against Iowa Oct. 19 had more than 7.8 million views as of Wednesday evening, and a YouTube video of the “Hollywood Blockbusters” halftime show during a game against Penn State Saturday had more then 8.7 million.
With all the attention it’s getting, the band, often referred to as “The Best Damn Band in the Land,” appeared on NBC’s “TODAY Show” Wednesday and has been fielding calls from media around the world, OSU Marching Band director Jon Waters said.
Katherine Jackson, the late Michael Jackson’s mother, contacted Waters Oct. 24 to thank the band for its tribute to her son, Waters said.
“She was very gracious (and) wanted me to thank the band members and said that on several occasions,” he said. “She was very impressed by the performance of the band and extended the congratulations and thanks of the whole family for our performance.”
Waters said the attention benefits the entire university.
“This has given us global outreach and that is a wonderful opportunity for us and our university and for our great students,” Waters said. “(If) that inspires some fifth grade or some fourth (grade) kid to say to his or her mom, ‘Hey, I’d like to play in the band someday,’ then we’ve done our job. We’ve inspired the next generation of musicians and I think that’s a great thing.”
Brothers Athan and Kosta Nicolozakes both play baritone for the band.
Kosta Nicolozakes, a third-year in biomedical engineering, agreed with Waters about the importance of inspiring the next generation.
“If this show convinces an extra fan to stay and watch their show at halftime, or even an extra child to pick up an instrument in elementary school, it’s worth it,” Kosta Nicolozakes said.
Athan Nicolozakes, a first-year in biomedical engineering, said he appreciates getting recognition from his classmates.
“I have (received) countless compliments from my peers who have seen the (‘Hollywood Blockbusters’) show,” he said. “It is amazing to see the band get this much recognition … (it’s) truly an honor to be a part of this organization.”
But Waters said the recognition will not change the band’s focus.
“This has been an opportunity for us to create new traditions through being innovative today,” Waters said. “What we say to our students is, ‘Today’s innovations become tomorrow’s traditions,’ and I think we’re able to do that with our halftime shows.”
He added that the Marching Band members deserve the attention.
“I’m very proud of the fact that they’re getting recognition for the hard work that they put into what we do,” Waters said. “We have really dedicated students.”
Kosta Nicolozakes, though, said much of the reason for the recognition lies with the directors.
“So much of this success is a result of Jon (Waters), (associate director) Chris Hoch and our wonderful staff. Shows like this are a product of their genius combination of innovation and tradition, and the future of the band is bright simply because of the year long work they all put in,” he said.
First-year in nursing Ryan Salem was one student who was impressed with the band performance at the Penn State game.
“It was honestly the greatest band performance I’ve ever seen,” Salem said. “It was the loudest part of any game I’ve been to this year.”
Kyle Wang, a second-year in accounting, agreed the “Hollywood Blockbusters” halftime show was one of the best yet.
“Last week’s Penn State (halftime performance) was one of the best ever. It’s incredible how they can choreograph it and create those pictures,” Wang said. “My mind is constantly blown every show, and just when I think it can’t get better, it always does. They’re always raising the level of their performances.”
Other students said the Marching Band is especially good this year.
“They’ve been way better (than in years past),” said Alyssa Verhoff, a third-year in neuroscience. “(They’re) more complex. They always did cool stuff but it was never like (making) a person.”
The band formed a silhouette of Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk during its tribute show and of Harry Potter on a broomstick catching the snitch during the “Hollywood Blockbusters” show.
Second-year in psychology Mackenna Swing said she enjoys watching the performances each week.
“They make me want to stop what I’m doing and just sit and watch,” she said. “I feel almost honored to be watching them since they don’t play the whole thing on TV.”
Having support from fellow OSU students is encouraging for band members, Kosta Nicolozakes said.
“The students at this university have always been supportive of the band, and that’s what makes the experience so wonderful,” he said. “This year more than ever, people have really stayed in their seats during halftime to watch our shows, and the crowd reactions before, during and after our shows have been sensational.”