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The following paper will map the memetic lineage of the football chant that evolved from The White Stripes song ‘Seven Nation Army’ (2003) and analyse the various adaptations and composite readings it has accrued since its release. In The Selfish Gene (1976), Richard Dawkins proposed that the spread of cultural phenomena follows a comparable process to genetic reproduction. The term Dawkins uses to describe these cultural ‘genes’ is ‘memes’ and one of the examples he gives are melodies (1976, 192). The simple and memorable seven note progression which forms the central riff of ‘Seven Nation Army’ has proved to be extraordinarily successful in terms of memetic transmission. It first appeared as a terrace chant in Europe, but spread to the UK as football supporters adapted it to match their team colours and players’ names. The guitar riff was also remixed, looped and used as the official goal song for the UEFA European Cup in 2016. In the summer of 2017 the chant took on a political dimension. Following a speech by Jeremy Corbyn at the Wirral Music festival, the crowd sang the labour leader’s name to the tune. This then spread to other music festivals, most notably Glastonbury where the chanting crowds received extensive media coverage. This paper will explore the propagation and adaptation of this musical meme. It will align the meme’s lineage with an exploration of the sociological and performative factors that inform terrace chants, and identify how these traditions and conventions influenced the various manifestations that permeated through popular culture. From a musicological perspective it will consider what it is about these seven notes that gives the meme such versatility and identify how changes to the content and context of the chant alter its function and meaning.

Keywords: Memechantfootballmusicpolitics

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