How SEVEN NATION ARMY Became A Stadium Chant


I’d like to thank Skillshare for sponsoring this video the first 500 people to use the link in the description will get two months of Skillshare premium free Seven Nation Army has one of the most recognizable riffs of all time. Its melody has become a global sports anthem and while it might sound like it’s played on a bass guitar, that sound is created by Jack White’s semi-acoustic guitar Brought down an octave by a guitar pedal. The band never used a bass guitar until the album that followed and that had to do in part with the band’s obsession with the number three. They only ever used three colors on their album covers, promotional materials and onstage. Their third album was recorded in three days. Jack White likes to throw the number onto the end of his name. His record label is Third Man Records and he wrote a song for Loretta Lynn that was exactly 3 minutes and 33 seconds long. Alright, I might be stretching it with that last one but where the stripes rule of three was most evident was in their sound since they played as a two-piece onstage, aside from vocals, each of them could only play one instrument at a time. The group would add more elements to their minimalist composition over time but always came back to rock’s three main ingredients of guitar, drums, and vocals. They found liberation in limiting themselves. It forced them to be creative with a small toolkit — and there is equality in that simplicity Seven Nation Army has become timeless. There are more people who know the tune than those who even know its authors, making Seven Nation Army the last great American folk song. The White Stripes are Jack and Meg White and despite what the group has publicly tried to portray, the two are not brother and sister. In fact, they were married for a short period of time which is when Jack adopted Meg’s last name he liked the way it sounded. Probably one of the more controversial aspects of the White Stripes is Meg White’s drumming. Her technique or lack thereof has been called primitive by nearly every publication who comments on it. But when Jack White’s started dating Meg He had her try out the drums one day and said having her on drums liberated him. Her drumming was basic but she provided the rhythm and timing to complement Jack’s guitar and vocals and it only added to their stripped-down sound. But her value really came from her chemistry with Jack. There’s an unmistakable connection between the two on stage. They read each other’s cues so well and they had to. The group performed without a set list improvising from track to track. JACK WHITE: But we don’t have a setlist in the White Stripes. Simply put, Meg white wasn’t a drummer, she was The White Stripes’ drummer. Without a doubt, Jack White’s guitar work was the spotlight of every track. Full of power chords, fuzzy tones and screaming guitar solos. It was raw and it always sounded live and improvised. To achieve this, Jack stuck with vintage guitars, the same ones used by his heroes. Jack played Seven Nation Army on a 1950s Kay Hollowbody. One of the first companies to make electric guitars and using a digi-tech whammy pedal, he was able to make it sound like a bass guitar. THE EDGE: I always thought it was a bass that opened the song. JACK WHITE: An octave down, the whammy pedal an octave down. When he first played the riff, it didn’t get much of a reaction from Meg or his crew but Jack knew he had something here and wanted to save the track for something special. He wanted to use it for a Bond theme if he ever got the chance. He eventually did make a Bond track, but decided on keeping Seven Nation Army as the opener for their fourth album Elephant. The group’s label initially wanted to use there’s no home for you here as the lead single. But Jack insisted that Seven Nation Army be the first thing people heard from this new album. It won a Grammy for Best Rock Song. It held a top spot on Billboard’s Alternative Rock chart for three straight weeks. and became the third best performing song of the decade on that same chart. Three really was their lucky number. But how did the rock anthem go from the charts into stadiums? It all started later that same year, one October night in Belgium. Seven Nation Army had already passed its peak but still had some radio presence. Belgium’s Football Club Brugge KV was set to take on Italy’s AC Milan in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. While pre drinking before the game, Brugge supporters, also known as the blue army, heard the riff through the bar’s stereo and started singing along. They brought it with them through the streets and then into the stadium and this is the goal that started it all. From then on the blue army started chanting the alternative rock riff after every Brugge goal. It was short, catchy and intimidating, You didn’t need to know the lyrics and more importantly you didn’t need to be sober to join it, The Belgians made it theirs until 2006 when AS Roma beat Brugga in the 2006 UEFA Cup, taking the chant back home to Italy where it became known as The PO PO PO PO song — and just on time for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Italy would come out on top after coincidentally after defeating seven nations and the chant was carried throughout the streets of Rome that day. Since then, Seven Nation Army has become the unofficial anthem of soccer. Or football. Sorry. They played it at the start of every game in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Euro Cups. It’s become a chant for local and national teams across the continent and the sports world in general joining jock jams like Rock and Roll Part 2. Kerncraft 400 And one of the most notorious Queen’s We Will Rock You. So when I say Seven Nation Army is the last great American folk song, I don’t mean folk as in Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes singer-songwriter stuff. But as in music of the people. Songs, melodies and chants that communities have really made their own. Transcending borders and language. The songs just so happens to be American. Some music just really connects in a visceral way that makes it memorable and enjoyable to large groups of people. Jack White compared sports arenas to church gatherings where many folk songs were originally shared Stadiums have become our new way of sharing those songs. You don’t need to know what Seven Nation Army is about or where it came from to join in. Language splits the world into distinct pieces while music unifies us as a whole Music is a natural building block of communication and we probably sang before we spoke and when we gather in a sports stadium and begin harmonizing together, we connect with the people around us. We’re participating in a core human experience. Together. If you’re looking to enhance your own human experience you can do so with Skillshare. It’s an online learning community with a ton of classes ranging from Nathan Forest’s 31-day guitar challenge to improving your football game with certified personal trainer, Jen Puzio. If you use the first link in the description You’ll get two months of Skillshare for free and you can start challenging yourself to learn something new this summer. Thanks for watching ladies and gents. Patrons, thank you for the continued support. Your pledges go towards making this show better If you enjoyed the video please give it a like rating, subscribe to learn more about the music you love and tell me do you think Seven Nation Army will live on for years to come? Will we ever get a new stadium chant? Probably. But let me know what you guys think in the comments below and that’s it from me. Again, thanks for watching and keep listening.

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