30 June 2012

EURO 2012: Football And Music

The swelling chorus of voices from soccer football supporters, the songs from the terraces (uplifting, degrading, hilarious, amazing), the pop songs that become football anthems. The connection between football and music has always been strong.

I noted in a previous post how fascinating it was to see a Rodgers and Hammerstein song turn into an anthem for Liverpool Football Club, so much so, that even Pink Floyd used a sample of the crowd in their highly underrated song "Fearless."

As the 2012 European Football Championships come to a close, many have noted the popularity of "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes in the stadiums around Poland and Ukraine.

NME.com credits the Italians (who play Spain in the final) for popularizing the song in football stadia in Europe.

Sports blog Deadspin.com examines in a bit more detail how the song grew in popularity in spite of reservations about the song from the White Stripe camp itself.

Jack White has weighed in on the recent popularity as well:
"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. 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."
Chris Salmon writes in The Guardian Music Blog that "[F]ootball and (credible) music were mutually exclusive. If you liked one, you really didn't like the other, and if you liked both you kept it to yourself."

The Beatles were encouraged by manager Brian Epstein to hide their football allegiances (McCartney was allegedly an Everton supporter while Lennon supported Liverpool FC).

Salmon goes on to write about the economics of the music and football industry and about how music is now inextricably linked to football especially because of the money available in the sport.

The link between football and music has always been strong with Pink Floyd using "You'll Never Walk Alone," through New Order's surprisingly good football song "World In Motion" in 1990 and even bands like Embrace writing the official 2006 World Cup song for England. Glasvegas is led by James Allen, a former professional footballer in the Scottish Premier League. Though most may not think it (or find it stereotypically odd) Elton John is big investor and supporter of Watford Football Club since 1976. The Gallagher brothers of Oasis have never made any secrets about their support for Manchester City. Joy Division's Ian Curtis, also a huge Manchester City supporter.

The headline in the Guardian blog article says, "Once musicians were too cool for the terraces - not now" but I think that's a bit misleading. Musicians (Ones from the UK, anyway) have always been able to combine their love for football and music.

Musicians were never "too cool" for the terraces but nowadays it's just paying off.

This goes into the discussion of bands "selling out" or not or "branding" issues for bands these days. I have embryos of thoughts on this subject and planning on a fully-formed post on it in the future. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, enjoy the football. Enjoy the music. Cheers!

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