Before March Madness’s “One Shining Moment,” There Was Barbra Streisand’s “Being Alive”

The precursor to the fabled video-comp tune was sung by the star of "Yentl"

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For three decades March has not only become synonymous with March Madness, the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament (sorry, ladies), but also “One Shining Moment.” Though the song, its performers and even its lyrics have changed over time, its purpose has not: Every year, beginning shortly after Indiana beat Syracuse in a thriller in 1987, the song accompanies an inspiring, heart-tugging, nail-biting highlight reel of epic moments from throughout the tourney.

But it wasn’t always that way. In 1985, shortly after Villanova upset Georgetown to cut down the nets, CBS’s video-compilation coda was backed by the theme song to Police Academy (seriously) and, in 1986, it got even stranger.

After Louisville—led by freshman phenom Pervis Ellison—beat Duke, 72-69, on March 31, 1986, the video was now backed by—wait for it—“Being Alive” by Barbra Streisand. That’s right, the woman responsible for sappy songs like “Memory” and “Send in the Clowns” was now the final voice you heard during March Madness. Even the video (watch it below) was a joke compared to the slick, sometimes overproduced “One Shining Moment” videos you see today. There’s no attention detail, with highlights (many of them painfully dull) falling haphazardly over the saccharine tune without consideration for timing.

Fortunately, the next year was the debut of “One Shining Moment.” The original version was sung by the songwriter David Barrett and used until 1993 (and, then again, briefly in the early aughts). Future versions would feature Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross and, as of 2016, Ne-Yo on vocals.

Still, it’s Babs who few will remember as the catalyst for “One Shining Moment.” Feeling verklempt?

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