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Shriek of the Week: The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”

May 15, 2014

WS-Elephant (5)A lot has changed since the White Stripes breakthrough hit “Seven Nation Army” back in 2003. For one thing, the White Stripes are no more. But one thing hasn’t changed over the course of 11 years – at almost any sporting event one attends live, you’re likely to hear Jack White’s riff from this song play at some point in an effort to lift the energy level of the fans and the home team. Last night, as the Miami Heat were capping off their comeback win over the Brooklyn Nets to win the series, with less than 2 minutes left in the game the home fans began to chant on their own, without musical cue from the public address announcer – “Oh…oh-OH-oh oh OHH OHH“.

It’s not just in the U.S. though. Seven Nation Army is an international sports anthem. Consider the lengthy section on Wikipedia devoted to the song’s popularity at sporting events. Sports blog Deadspin posted an article two years ago titled “How The Song “Seven Nation Army” Conquered The Sports World“. This week, as I find myself knee deep in the NHL and NBA playoffs (at least things are looking good for the Rangers) my Shriek of the Week easily is the song that we all hear over and over again between shots on goal and at the hoop. Chant along with me now, “Oh…oh-OH-oh oh OHH OHH“.

Unusual for a jock jam, Seven Nation Army is actually a great song. Count down its accolades with me: Reached #1 on Billboard‘s Modern Rock Tracks. Grammy winner for Best Rock Song. Number six on Rolling Stone‘s 2009 list of the 50 Best Songs of the Decade. Number five in NME‘s list of the 50 Greatest Tracks Of The Decade (published in 2005). Consequence of Sound named it as their top rock track of the 2000s. Rhapsody did too. And so on.

WS-Elephant (2)Overall, Elephant (the album on which Seven Nation Army is the lead track) is an outstanding record and probably the White Stripes’ best. Other standout songs include “The Hardest Button to Button”,  “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” and the Burt Bacharach cover “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself”. Elephant was universally praised by critics, adored by fans, and like its main single, won a Grammy Award (for Best Alternative Album). NME named it the album of the year. 11 years later, it still sounds brilliant. This is one of the many reasons I’m excited for the new Jack White solo album Lazaretto, coming next month. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how exceptional this man is as a musician.

The song is great, the album is great, the riff is timeless, the video (below) is innovative, and the 2-LP record itself – artwork, design, colors – is a sight to behold. Check it out.

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Official Video: Seven Nation Army

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