Last season, the Washington Galaxy had a disappointing season on and off the ice. On ice, the Galaxy finished below .500 for the first time. In the stands, attendance dwindled as DC hockey fans overwhelmingly opted to watch the NHL’s Capitals make a run to the Stanley Cup instead of the Galaxy’s second-half swan dive.
The team took aggressive steps on both fronts during the offseason. In hopes of improving their on-ice fortunes, they hired a new coach and shook up the roster. To address their off-ice woes, GM Ace Adams hired veteran sports marketing executive David Maltby as “Chief Experience Officer.” According to Adams, Maltby was charged with “making sure that Galaxy games are a great, fun, and family-friendly experience for our fans.”
The on-ice improvements haven’t materialized, as the Galaxy’s record has only gotten worse. However, in their first season, Maltby and his staff have one success under their belt, thanks to an ‘80s pop song and its over-the-top music video.
One of Maltby’s first projects was to survey Galaxy fans on their opinions of the in-game entertainment. One key finding: the music played in the arena was a bit stale. So the team shook up the mix with some more modern, up-tempo tunes.
In addition, Maltby wanted the team to have a signature song, something the fans could adopt as an anthem. “Fans love to sing along,” said Maltby. “Like ‘Sweet Caroline’ for the Red Sox or ‘I Love LA’ for the Lakers. A song like that can really bond a fanbase together.”
Maltby was looking for a track that connected to the city or team. “There aren’t a lot of songs about DC, though,” he said. “My first thought was ‘Bustin’ Loose,’ but the Nationals have that one pretty well locked down.”
Maltby’s staff went searching on Spotify and YouTube for possible candidates. Their search hit pay dirt when they encountered the 1989 B-52s hit “Cosmic Thing.” In particular, they found the official music video for the song, recorded live at a 1990 concert and featuring the band gyrating in eye-catching gold and silver costumes.
“It checked all my boxes,” said Maltby. “The song was fun, up-tempo, singable and danceable. It’s got terrific energy. The late ‘80s are in the nostalgic sweet spot for a lot of our fans. It’s a little kitschy, but cool. It had the ‘Cosmic’-Galaxy tie-in. It was the song for us!”
During the third period of Washington’s home opener, they played the video during a stoppage in play. Maltby watched to see how the fans would react… and it was better than he’d dreamed.”
As soon as the video came on screen, the fans began cheering and boogying. “It was almost everyone in the arena levitated at once,” Maltby explained. “Folks were up out of their seat, laughing and dancing and cheering. The energy level was through the roof for the rest of the game. It was perfect!”
After experimenting with using “Cosmic Thing” as a victory song, the Galaxy quickly settled on playing it at the start of the third period to get the crowd going. The fans love to chant key lyrics, like “Cosmic, wooooooo!”, “Shake your… honeybuns!”, and “Rock the house!” The view on the Jumbotron switches between the video and shots of fans dancing and singing in the stands. Some fans have even taken to dressing in costumes like the ones the B-52s wear in the video.
“It’s become an anthem, just like I hoped,” said Maltby.
The video received a new level of attention when New York Night coach Nick Foster took a shot at it after his team’s visit earlier this season. “Apparently the hot new thing in DC is for the fans to dress up like disco balls and sing about shaking their [butts],” Foster quipped to reporters. “I don’t know if they’re handing out free cocaine before games or what. But I guess when your team sucks, you find your entertainment where you can.”
“That only made our fans love the song more,” said Adams. “So thanks for the help, Nick!”
As a follow-up to this smash success, Maltby said he hopes to get the B-52s to the Constellation Center to perform the song live. “If we can do that, people will lose their minds,” he said with a smile. “Stay tuned.”