Trending: The Euro 2012 chant that a Seven Nation Army couldn't hold back

 

Bah ba ba ba ba baaaah baaah... As Euro 2012 reaches its knockout stage, the soundtrack to the tournament so far – besides the hum of Dutch indignation – is the booming riff from The White Stripes' 2003 hit "Seven Nation Army", which is played over the stadium PA system after every goal and has been gleefully bellowed along to by supporters of all 16 nations throughout the games.

At Euro 2008, Bellini's "Samba de Janeiro" provided a similar role as Uefa's officially designated post-goal soundblast. But, as in Ukraine/Poland, in Switzerland and Austria, the fans' anthem of choice was Jack White's riff, which had already conjured up quite an unlikely sporting history.

The story of how "Seven Nation Army" conquered the sporting world was told brilliantly in January by Deadspin's Alan Siegel (read it here: deadsp.in/7nation), who recounted that the riff's popularity stemmed from being adopted by Club Brugge fans before a game against AC Milan after they heard it in a bar pre-game and transported it to the San Siro stands.

It was subsequently adopted by the Italians – as well as by a number of European clubs – and became the soundtrack of the Azzurri's march to World Cup glory in 2006. It may well have spread to South Africa, too, had anything been audible above the deathly honk of the vuvuzelas.

Pop music – from "Blue Moon" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" to "Go West" and the recently ubiquitous "Sloop John B" – has a long history of making it to the terraces, but the howling, addictive riff of"Seven Nation Army" seems to have transcended sporting and national boundaries, from Donetsk to Daytona.

As for its progenitor – always one to embrace romanticism of music – he was pleased to see the song take on a "Guantanamera"-style life of its own. Shortly after the Italians celebrated their World Cup victory with a 500,000-person singalong, Jack White said: "Nothing is more beautiful than when people embrace a melody and allow it to enter the pantheon of folk music. As a songwriter it is something impossible to plan. Especially in modern times."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor