Seven Nation Army

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"Seven Nation Army"
Single by The White Stripes
from the album Elephant
B-side "Good to Me"
Released March 7, 2003 (US)
May 12, 2003 (UK)
Format CD, 7"
Recorded Toe Rag Studios, London
April 2002
Genre Alternative rock, garage rock
Length 3:52
Label XL Recordings
V2 Records (CD radio promo)
Writer(s) Jack White
Producer(s) Jack White
The White Stripes singles chronology
"Candy Cane Children"
(2002)
"Seven Nation Army"
(2003)
"I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself"
(2003)

"Seven Nation Army" is the first track on the album Elephant by American alternative rock band The White Stripes. It was released as a single in 2003 and is arguably the band's best-known song. "Seven Nation Army" reached #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks for three weeks and won 2004's Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. It also became 3rd best performing alternative song of the decade on the same chart. The song is known for its underlying riff, which plays throughout most of the song. Its melody is nearly identical to a main theme in Anton Bruckner's Fifth symphony.[1] Although it sounds like a bass guitar (an instrument the group had never previously used), the sound is actually created by running Jack White's semi-acoustic guitar (a 1950s style Kay Hollowbody) through a DigiTech Whammy pedal set down an octave.

According to Jack White, "Seven Nation Army" is what he used to call The Salvation Army as a child.[2]

Music video[edit]

The video, directed by Alex and Martin, consists of one seemingly continuous shot through a kaleidoscopic tunnel of mirrored black, white and red triangles, touching on Jack's love of the number three. Some triangle slides contain images of Jack or Meg playing, and at some points marching skeletons and an elephant can be seen, referring to the name of the album "Seven Nation Army" appeared on. As the pace of the song speeds up, the speed that one triangle passes through the tunnel speeds up, and as it slows, the speed through the tunnel slows in unison. During the video, when the song begins to intensify, the lights in surrounding the triangles flash and other effects build up as well. The video, particularly the triangle, bears a striking similarity to the iconic theatrical poster for Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.

Single track listing[edit]

  1. "Seven Nation Army" (Jack White)
  2. "Good to Me" (Brendan Benson/Jason Falkner)
  3. "Black Jack Davey" (Traditional)

The 7" single only contains the first two tracks.

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

This song was number six on Rolling Stone's 2009 list of the 50 Best Songs of the Decade.[3] In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Seven Nation Army" at number 8 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.[4] In September 2005, NME placed "Seven Nation Army" at number 5 in its list of the 50 Greatest Tracks Of The Decade.[5] It was also called the 75th greatest hard rock song by VH1. In May 2008, Rolling Stone placed this song at number 21 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.[6] "Seven Nation Army" also earned 20th place in Triple J's Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009. The song was also listed at #30 on Pitchfork Media's top 500 songs of the 2000s, and at number 2 in Observer Music Monthly's top 75 songs of the decade, behind Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love". It also came in second on Channel V Australia's top 1000 songs of the 00s. In 2009, US website Consequence of Sound named this as their top rock track of the 2000s,[7] as did Boston's WFNX Radio.[8] On Rolling Stone's updated version of their The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, "Seven Nation Army" was listed at number 286.[9] It was also ranked #1 on Rhapsody's list of the Top 100 Tracks of the Decade.[10] In October 2011, NME placed it at number 23 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[11] In February 2013, listeners to BBC Radio 6 Music placed the song at number 6 in "6 Music's 100 Greatest Hits", the top songs released in the station's lifetime.[12]

Popularity[edit]

Sporting events[edit]

The song is played after every goal scored by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena

The song is very popular in European football stadia, even becoming the unofficial anthem of Italy's World Cup win in 2006 and was used in both Euro 2008, when the teams walked onto the pitch at the start of the game[13] and in Euro 2012 and in U-21 Euro 2013, when it was played when a goal was scored. Its emergence as a popular sporting anthem started when, on October 22, 2003 supporters of Club Brugge K.V. overheard the song being played in a bar in Milan, while preparing to attend a UEFA Champions League group match against A.C. Milan and began to sing along. After a 0-1 upset win, the fans brought the song back with them to Belgium, where Brugge began playing it in Jan Breydel Stadium during matches. After Brugge hosted A.S. Roma in a UEFA Cup match on February 15, 2006, the Italian side brought the song back home with them and it began to be played inside the stadium. By the time the World Cup had began in June, the song had become the national team's unofficial anthem.[14]

In response to the song's popularity in Italy, Jack White said:

I am honored that the Italians have adopted this song as their own... 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. I love that most people who are chanting it have no idea where it came from. That's folk music.[15]

During the Scottish Cup semi-final in April 2006, where Hearts met local rivals Hibernian, this song gained infamy as when Paul Hartley had scored his hat-trick and Hearts fourth goal against Hibs, this song was played to which the Hearts fans started chanting to the chorus "Oh the Hibees are gay". In later years Hibernian used the song to taunt Hearts about their financial troubles by singing "All the Hibees get paid" to the songs main riff.

Falkirk fans have also taken to singing the main riff whenever they win a corner to the words "We're the navy blue army". Oldham fans also use the chorus, singing "we're following Oldham" to it.

The song is also played at home games of A-League team Melbourne Victory following a team goal, the song has become an almost un-official anthem for the club's fans. Melbourne Victory's home ground in fact is down the road from the Corner Hotel where the guitar riff was originally composed. The song was also chosen by the newly formed Western Sydney Wanderers FC as their goal scoring music. The club did not know the song was already connected to Melbourne Victory, and once the Wanderers active support group the Red & Black Bloc informed the club they stopped using the song.

Every time the German club Bayern Munich score, a remixed version of the song is played. Also the song was played every time a team scored a goal, in Wembley Stadium for the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final, which Bayern Munich won 2–1 against Borussia Dortmund. And in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup the song was played again, every time a team scored a goal, which saw Bayern Munich win the match against Chelsea, in a penalty shooutout 5–4, after the match ended 2–2 in normal and extra time.

The song is used as the tune for chants sang to players such as Indian Cricket Team player Ravindra Jadeja, Robin van Persie at Manchester United, Reading player Adam Le Fondre, and Santi Cazorla of Arsenal.[16]

Darts player Michael van Gerwen uses the song as his walk-on song. Fans asked him to change his walk-on song from Breathe by The Prodigy, and Sky Sports chose Seven Nation Army, and the darts audience took an immediate liking to it, chanting his name to the beat of the song.[17]

The song has also become increasingly popular at American college football games, being used at many large venues throughout the country.[18] Introduction of the song to college football can be traced to the Penn State football program, where in 2006 the communication and media director, Guido D’Elia, was inspired after hearing a Public Radio International story about A.S. Roma's use of the song. At about the same time, Arrangers' Publishing Company began to sell sheet music of the song for marching bands and by January 2012 had sold around 2,000 copies.[14] The University of Southern California marching band plays the song in reference to quarterback Matt Barkley's jersey number 7[citation needed]. The Oregon Marching Band plays the tune every time the Oregon Ducks Football defense comes onto the field during football games. The song can also be heard at all home games of traditional rivals Ohio State and Michigan before kickoff following a home team score.[14]

The song has been used since 2011 as the official hype song of the Baltimore Ravens.[19] During the 2012 season, it was cited in an ESPN story declaring M&T Bank Stadium the top home field advantage in the NFL.[20] During Super Bowl XLVII, Ravens fans could be heard chanting the song as the power went out during live TV coverage in the third quarter.[21] It has also been used by the Baltimore Orioles following its positive reception at Ravens games, being heard during key moments in games during and since the Orioles turnaround 2012 season. At many college and some pro American football games, the six note hollow-body guitar sequence that is repeated throughout most of the song can be heard spontaneously chanted (wordlessly) by the fans, with no accompaniment from the official stadium audio system. It is also played before tip-off at New York Knicks games.

The song is also used at college basketball games in the United States at schools such as NC State University, Saint Louis University, and Butler University.[citation needed]

In November 2013, the song replaced Bon Jovi's "This Is Our House" as the goal song of the New Jersey Devils. The change came after a fan vote in response to the controversial replacement of Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll" with "This Is Our House", due to concerns by team staff surrounding a mocking "Hey, you suck!" chant done to the former.[22][23][24]

The song has been used in the hype videos played before each Miami Heat home game in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. The famous underlying riff of the song is also sung frequently by Heat fans as a chant. After the Heat's popularization of the song's main riff as a "battle cry", many other NBA teams have started using it for the same effect, and it is now in essence the NBA "battle song". During the 2013 NBA Finals 3rd game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Heat, Spurs fans used the chant when they won the game to mock the Heat's use of the song in their hype video.[25] The fans also used the chant in game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals, also against the Heat, when the Spurs won the NBA championship in five games.[26]

The song was played in-between innings during the 2012-2013 home games of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The accompanying hype video takes inspiration from the Seven Nation Army music video and ends with baseball gloved hands making the famous LA sign.

Usage in media[edit]

This song was used many times during the baseball documentary 10th Inning by Ken Burns. An exclusive remix by The Glitch Mob was featured in the trailer to the film G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the trailer of season 12 of the TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation. This is also a playable song in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, DLC for Rock Band 2 and Rock Band 3, and will be featured in the upcoming Fantasia: Music Evolved.

Egyptian protest song[edit]

It was also featured on the February 1, 2011 broadcast of Democracy Now!, where it was linked to the massive pro-democracy demonstrations then occurring in Egypt.[27] Speaking with Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, host Amy Goodman said "That music is in your ears and head all the time, you said, Mona," to which Eltahawy replied:

It’s a loop, Amy, because every time I hear the opening lines—"I’m going to fight them off. A seven-nation army couldn’t hold me back"—it just takes me to Egypt, where people—I’ve never seen anything like it. Literally, nothing can hold them back. Mubarak shuts down the internet, shuts down the train system, shuts down almost the entire country, and still they come. It’s beautiful.[27]

Hamburg Port Anniversary Celebration[edit]

On May 9, 2014, during the 825th Hamburg Port Anniversary celebration, the cruise ship MSC Magnifica used the ship’s horns to blast the song while entering the harbor. The event was caught on video and posted to YouTube.[28]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2003–14) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Charts 17
Austrian Singles Chart 18
Dutch Mega Top 50 22
France (SNEP)[29] 48
German Singles Chart[30] 4
Irish Singles Chart 22
Italian Singles Chart 3
UK Singles Chart 7
US Billboard Hot 100[31] 76
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[32] 1
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[33] 12

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2008) Rank
German Singles Chart[34] 57

Certifications[edit]

Country Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Germany[35] Gold

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by blues musician C. W. Stoneking as well as the country group The Oak Ridge Boys (with bass singer Richard Sterban singing the original guitar riffs),[36] funk metal band Living Colour, rock supergroup Audioslave, indie band Hard-Fi, alternative rock band The Flaming Lips, English indie singer Kate Nash, British soul singer Alice Russell, French soul singer Ben l'Oncle Soul, hard rock band The Pretty Reckless, pop singer Kelly Clarkson, heavy metal band Metallica and Argentine electrotango band Tanghetto. The song was also covered by Becky Hill on the 2012 season of The Voice (UK), Jamar Rogers during his blind audition for the second season of The Voice (USA), and Garrett Gardener's blind audition on the fourth season of The Voice (USA). The song has been remixed by The Glitch Mob as well. It has also been covered by James Valentine leading guitar of Maroon 5 during his most recent tour Overexposed. The song was also covered by KT Tunstall (as a medley with her own "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree") on her 2013 Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon tour.

Marcus Collins version[edit]

"Seven Nation Army"
Single by Marcus Collins
from the album Marcus Collins
B-side "Break These Chains"
Released March 4, 2012
Format Digital download, CD single
Recorded 2011-12
Genre Pop, soul, funk
Length 2:56
Label RCA Records
Writer(s) Jack White
Producer(s) Matt Furmidge, Alex Smith, Brian Rawling
Marcus Collins singles chronology
"Wishing on a Star"
(2011)
"Seven Nation Army"
(2012)
"Mercy"
(2012)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Digital Spy 3/5 stars[37]

British singer and X Factor runner-up Marcus Collins covered the song as his debut single, in a version based on the cover by Ben l'Oncle Soul. It was released in the United Kingdom on 4 March 2012, a week prior to his debut album Marcus Collins.

Revealing that he has received a lot of abuse from White Stripes fans, Collins said: "I know I can't please everyone. A lot of people have got opinions on it, but they can always listen to the White Stripes version. Why are they listening to me if they don't like it? Listen to the original if you don't like my singing. It's just the X Factor connection but, you know, why are people kicking off about it now?"[38]

A music video to accompany the release of "Seven Nation Army" was first released onto YouTube on 16 February 2012 at a total length of two minutes and fifty-eight seconds.[39] Critically, Lewis Corner of Digital Spy noted the "distinctive soul-pop" vocals showcased by Collins and wrote that, "Truth be told, we wish he'd fought a little harder to get one those eight original compositions he has on his forthcoming record out first."[37]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Seven Nation Army"   2:56
2. "Break These Chains"   2:27

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[40] 13
Ireland (IRMA)[41] 51
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[42] 9
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[43] 9

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United Kingdom 4 March 2012[44][45] Digital download, CD single RCA Records

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Full score of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony (Haas edition) from the Indiana University School of Music. See the main theme of the Allegro section of the first movement.
  2. ^ "True believers: The White Stripes live out their rock-and-roll fantasy". Boston Phoenix. April 17, 2003. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  3. ^ Hermes, Will; Hoard, Christian; Rosen, Jody; Sheffield, Rob (December 24, 2009), "50 Best Songs of the Decade". Rolling Stone. (1094/1095):59-62
  4. ^ RockList.net (2005). "Q magazine - 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  5. ^ RockList.net (2005). "The Greatest Tracks Of The Decade 1996–2006". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  6. ^ Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time
  7. ^ Seven Nation Army Songfacts
  8. ^ WFNX's top 101 songs of the decade, Boston Phoenix. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Editorial, Rhapsody (2009-12-09). "Top 100 Tracks of the Decade - Rhapsody SoundBoard". Blog.rhapsody.com. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  11. ^ 150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years | NME.COM
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Seven Nation Army: the indiest football anthem ever?, guardian.co.uk
  14. ^ a b c Siegel, Alan (2012-01-13). "How The Song "Seven Nation Army" Conquered The Sports World". deadspin.com. Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  15. ^ "A "Seven Nation Army" Can't Hold Back Italian Soccer". artistdirect.com. Rogue Digital, LLC. 2006-07-13. Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ "20 Things You Might Not Know About 'Seven Nation Army'". NME. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "Michael van Gerwen: Is Mighty Mike the next dominant force?". BBC. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  18. ^ Masoud: This is what college football is all about (Sept. 12) - Irish Football - The Observer - University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College
  19. ^ Ravens adapt "Seven-Nation Army" as hype-up chant | Baltimore Sports Report
  20. ^ "Toughest venues: Scoreboard, baby". Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  21. ^ Jones, Lindsay H. (3 February 2013). "Superdome goes dark during Super Bowl XLVII, baby". USA Today. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  22. ^ "NJ Devils fans boo new Bon Jovi goal song, yearn for Gary Glitter". Puck Daddy. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "Devils change goal song, ask for replacement suggestions; What would you pick instead of Gary Glitter?". NJ.com. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Seven Nation Army voted new goal song". New Jersey Devils. 2 November 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  25. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYJ2riKsErI&list=LLoVO0ROAggVPqpyWSDpCH6A&index=2.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EizzaBMm1rc
  27. ^ a b . "Mubarak is Our Berlin Wall": Egyptian Columnist Mona Eltahawy on How the Youth Drove the Uprising in Cairo and Implications for Democracy in the Region, Democracy Now! (Feb. 1, 2011)
  28. ^ http://youtube.com/watch?v=f8K1yPECJeQ?t=1m22s
  29. ^ "Lescharts.com – The White Stripes – 7 Nation Army" (in French). Les classement single.
  30. ^ musicline.de / PhonoNet GmbH. "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche". musicline.de. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  31. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/419422/white-stripes/chart?f=379
  32. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/419422/white-stripes/chart?f=377
  33. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/419422/white-stripes/chart?f=376
  34. ^ [3][dead link]
  35. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Seven Nation Army')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  36. ^ Five-Star Fridays The Agitator (Mar. 25, 2011)
  37. ^ a b Lewis Corner. "Marcus Collins: 'Seven Nation Army' - Single review". Digital Spy. digitalspy.co.uk. 
  38. ^ Marcus Collins unveils 'Seven Nation Army' new video - watch - X Factor News - Music - Digital Spy
  39. ^ Marcus Collins - Seven Nation Army. YouTube
  40. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ – Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége" (in Hungarian). Rádiós Top 40 játszási lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  41. ^ "Irish Charts - Singles, Albums & Compilations". Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  42. ^ "Archive Chart". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  43. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart.
  44. ^ Seven Nation Army: Marcus Collins: Amazon.co.uk: MP3 Downloads
  45. ^ iTunes - Music - Seven Nation Army - Single by Marcus Collins
Preceded by
"Send the Pain Below" by Chevelle
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
July 12, 2003
Succeeded by
"Just Because" by Jane's Addiction