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What Is the State Song of New York?

J.E. Holloway
J.E. Holloway

Forty-eight American states have one or more state songs or anthems, chosen by the legislature or government as a symbol of the state. Some of these, such as "Oklahoma!" or "Georgia on my Mind," are well-known, while others, such as "Hail, South Dakota!" are less well known. Several states have multiple state songs, such as New Mexico, which has four. The state song of New York is called "I Love New York."

"I Love New York" was written in 1977 by songwriter Steve Karmen. Karmen was an experienced songwriter, best known for writing advertising jingles. Karmen created a series of well-known advertising jingles for clients such as Budweiser®, Jack in the Box®, Hershey's® and Exxon®. Karmen donated the rights to the song to the state of New York, allowing the state all revenues from commercial royalties.

"I Love New York" is the state song of New York.
"I Love New York" is the state song of New York.

The state song of New York is relatively brief, at only thirteen lines. Without referring to any specific features of New York's history or sights, it proclaims the state "special" and states that "there's no place like New York." Quick and catchy, the song is easy to remember and sing.

Some older states, when adopting state songs, chose existing tunes already associated with them. For instance, Connecticut chose "Yankee Doodle" as its state song to emphasize the state's Revolutionary War heritage. The state song of New York, by contrast, was the product of a sophisticated marketing campaign. The New York Department of Commerce hired an advertising agency, Wells Rich Greene, to design an advertising campaign which would promote tourism. As part of the campaign, graphic designer Milton Glaser created the "I ♥ NY" logo, which quickly became one of the most recognizable symbols of New York.

"I Love New York" was a product of the same marketing campaign as the logo. Despite having attracted criticism for its high cost, the advertising campaign was a success, greatly increasing New York's tourism revenue. In 1980, governor Hugh Carey declared "I Love New York" the state song of New York. New York had not previously had a state song.

"I Love New York" has had a significant impact on popular culture. It frequently appears in film and television portrayals of New York. In 1989, horror film "Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" used the song as part of its theme music, attracting criticism for associating the state song of New York with negative portrayals of New York.

Discussion Comments


I have to say that I always wondered exactly why I saw so many I love New York merchandise around and always wondered where the saying came from.

I have to wonder if there are other states that have picked a song for commercial purposes and if they had similar marketing campaigns surrounding the adoption of their state song?

I would think that with the success that New York had profiting off of this song that other states would follow their lead and try to mirror the success that New York had and try to capitalize off of a state song.


@matthewc23 - Of, course they did it for advertising purposes and to promote city tourism.

A giant basis for revenue of New York City revolves around tourism and the times the song was composed was a time of economic depression and the state needed money.

It is not a bad thing that they did this, as the song is catchy and does promote the state in a positive light. I know it may seem like the purity of a state is diluted by picking a commercialized song, but when compared to other states, like Connecticut chose a song that has virtually nothing to do with the state individually, it reflects the individuality of the state well.


@Izzy78 - I would say that you are being paranoid, but all the circumstances seem to fit your conclusion and your belief.

The fact that they picked a guy to compose the song, who was famous for marketing songs for products, kind of gives an indication that they were looking for something that would promote the commerciality of the state.

I know that all the evidence is all circumstantial, but I find it higher suspicious in the time period that the song was released, as well as the man who composed the song point to something behind it.

Also, I find that what he did to give the rights of the song to the state of New York as suspicious as he does not claim any revenue off of that song, but I would assume he was paid for his efforts, which they could have paid him a large lump sum if they had commercial intentions.


It seems to me like the official state song of New York was done more or less as a marketing gimmick in order to capitalize on the idea of having a state song in such an economically important state as New York.

Before anyone calls me paranoid I would like to point out that most states when they choose someone to compose a state song will either pick someone that has some connection to state historical societies or has done other ventures for the state government in the past and they picked a marketing minded guy, who came up with jingles for various companies products.

To me it seems like the song is just aimed at promoting New York City in a way to appeal to commercial interests and I am sure that there may have very well have been an agenda involved in the entire matter.

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    • "I Love New York" is the state song of New York.
      By: Mihai Simonia
      "I Love New York" is the state song of New York.