Go ahead, hum the music to yourself now. It’s in your head, like it always is on championship night. “Dum dum dum dum, dumdumdumdum dum dum dum dum (cue trumpet – “bah bah bah bah bah”). Do your best Luther Vandross, and belt out those half-cheesy, half inspiring lyrics. “The ball is tipped, and there you are, you’re running for your life, you’re a shoo-ting star …”
Butler and UConn are playing in college basketball’s national title game tonight. But for many fans, the game itself is almost an afterthought. They just want to see One Shining Moment, the ditty that has been sung over a tournament highlight montage, after the title game, since 1987. One Shining Moment is such a part of hoops culture that, after the winning team clinches the title, the players hang around the court for a few extra minutes to watch the clip over the stadium JumboTron.
(More on TIME.com: Go behind the scenes at the NCAA Final Four)
Watching One Shining Moment is a highly emotional experience. It’s your last chance to relive March Madness, and when the music ends, the depression sets in. No more brackets. No more buzzer beaters. No more college basketball.
So settle in, and get ready to shed a tear or two for One Shining Moment, 2011. Here are five things to know about the song:
1. Four artists have sung One Shining Moment. Composer David Barrett, who wrote the song, sang it from 1987 through 1993. Then CBS pulled Teddy Pendergrass (1994-1999) and Luther Vandross (2003-2009) into the studio. Last year, Jennifer Hudson lent her voice, and fans groaned. She’s a beautiful singer, but probably too flashy for One Shining Moment. Plus, we didn’t need to see her singing on screen. More highlights!
For the 25th anniversary of the song’s broadcast, CBS is bringing back the Luther Vandross version. “This year, we wanted to be a little more traditional,” says Howard Bryant, vice president of production at CBS Sports. “Jennifer did a great job. But since Luther has the longest-running version, it’s the one fans identify with most.”
2. Barrett thought of the song in 1986, after sitting in a bar, at 2 am, almost alone. He was watching NBA highlights when Larry Bird came on the screen. An attractive waitress sat down next to him, and he tried to impress her with his knowledge of Bird, and his run to the 1979 NCAA championship game with Indiana State (Bird famously lost to Magic Johnson, and Michigan State). She wasn’t impressed, and ditched him. But his futile quest got him thinking about Bird’s Cinderella team, and the phrase “One Shining Moment” popped in his head as he walked out. The next morning, he sketched the lyrics on a napkin, and later wrote the music in 20 minutes. He recorded it professionally, and a childhood friend, CBS reporter Armen Keteyian, heard it, and passed it along to the network’s creative director, who was looking for a post-game anthem. The song was supposed to debut after the 1987 Super Bowl, but it got cut. The network used it after that year’s title game instead, and college hoops fans are better for it.
(More on TIME.com: See why America is on Team Butler)
3. One year, early in the 2000s, CBS featured on-screen glitter during One Shining Moment, a total affront. “There won’t be glitter this year,” says Bryant. “We’re going back to the basics.” Hallelujah!
4. The running time for this year’s edition: 3 minutes, four seconds. Bryant says an extra 10 to 20 seconds will be devoted to the championship game.
5. Bryant promises there will be a lot of dancing this year.
That’s cool. Too bad, though, that the dancing has to stop.
(More on TIME.com: See NewsFeed’s complete coverage of the tournament)