—Seven Nation Army
How did Seven Nation Army take over Italy?
It’s probably the most indie sports anthem ever, but if anyone was following the 2006 World Cup then they remember the simple, ever-so-catchy bassline of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. It ended up dominating the whole world of sports, but it became the beloved song of the Italian fans and players. How?
- It began on Oct. 22, 2003, at an AC Milan match in spontaneous fashion. The visiting Belgians moved out into the city center, still singing. They kept chanting it in the stands of the San Siro—Oh…oh-OH-oh oh OHH OHH—as Peruvian striker Andres Mendoza stunned Milan with a goal in the 33rd minute. Brugge made it hold up for a shocking 1-0 upset. Even when leaving the stadium, they continued to belt it out.
- The song traveled back to Belgium with them, and the Brugge crowd began singing it at home games. The club itself eventually started blasting “Seven Nation Army” through the stadium speakers after goals.
- On Feb. 15, 2006, Club Brugge hosted A.S. Roma in a UEFA Cup match. The visitors won, 2-1, and the Roma supporters apparently picked up the song from their hosts.
- “I had never heard the song before we stepped on the field in Bruges,” Roma captain Francesco Totti told a Dutch newspaper later. “Since then, I can’t get the ‘Po po po po po poo pooo’ out of my head. It sounded fantastic and the crowd was immediately totally into it. I quickly went out and bought one of the band’s albums.”
- The song traveled back to Italy again. Italians renamed it the “po po po po” song.
- By the time the World Cup kicked off in Germany that June, it had become the Italian national team’s unofficial theme song.
- Sports Illustrated reported that fans had serenaded Totti with the song during Italy’s group-stage win over Ghana. The Azzurri beat France in the final on July 9, and “Seven Nation Army” chants popped up on the streets of Rome amongst the celebrations.
- On July 11, Alessandro Del Piero and Marco Materazzi led a crowd rendition of “Seven Nation Army” from the stage at a Rolling Stones concert.
- Soon after, Jack White himself weighed in: “I am honored that the Italians have adopted this song as their own,” White said. “Nothing is more beautiful than when people embrace a melody and allow it to enter the pantheon of folk music.”
It’s an amazing story (again, read Alan’s article for the full story) that I remember so well having been in Perugia at the time Italy triumphed. The pre-Waka Waka days of the World Cup, ah, they were so beautiful…