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The most sung chant in contemporary sports

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Immediately after the World Cup semi-final win over Morocco, Emmanuel Macron visited the France players in the dressing room. As the French president walked around the room greeting them one by one, a chant from a portable speaker has become an anthem for fans around the world in recent years, who turn the text into chants for their players. Or started singing its highly recognizable and catchy refrain to celebrate goals and successes.

In the video, recorded in the France locker room, the players can be seen retrieving one after another the required demeanor to shake Macron’s hand, then immediately return to do what they want most: sing the refrain “Nananananana”. “Desire Freed” is a classic of Italian dance music released in 1996 by Milani-born singer Gala.

More or less since 2016, the song has reached the most diverse sports, from boxing to paddle. Northern Ireland fans started singing “Will Griggs on Fire” to its tune during the 2016 European Championships, making it a world-famous football anthem.Will Griggs is unstoppabletype), refers to a striker who was the top scorer in England’s second division but did not play a single minute in that tournament.

In recent months, Milan fans have adopted the song as the chorus of a season that ended with a Scudetto victory, singing “Pioli is on fire” to celebrate coach Stefano Pioli. The Milan version of the chorus is heard as “Why Pioli is on Fire”. was One of the most frequent searches on Google in Italy in 2022.

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It’s a second life for a song that topped the charts for weeks in half of Europe, every country that spawned tons of dance music, from the United Kingdom to France to the Netherlands. years The Golden Years of Italo House is the version of house music produced and sung in those years by producers and singers who had very successful international careers, from Eiffel 65 to Gigi D’Agostino.

“Freed from Desire” has never left the discos, where it has been a hit for years: although the process of appropriation by fans has created some problems, recently it has been heard more often. French DJ Bob Sinclair’s confused face proves it when he wore it during a recent evening in Padua.

“Now it’s all about ‘Sto Pioli'” says Gala with a bit of annoyance: “It’s not actually the song of Milan, it’s a song of celebration, of the losers, the underdog Like Will Grieg.” Although the association with sports and football in particular is now popular almost everywhere, in other countries it is also sung in other contexts, some of which, according to Gala, reflect the “anti-system” spirit that inspired the text: « In France it is the song of the LGBTQ+ community, of women’s marches, of environmental demonstrations. ».

“I wrote it on my own in New York,” where she moved in her early twenties, Gala says. “At the time I was studying photography and I would go back to Europe in the summer. I suggested to this Italian DJ to take some free photos of him and in exchange asked him to sing on one of his records».

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And so began her musical career, which soon had her dancing discos in Europe, first recorded in an artisanal way, before recording the rest of her most famous album in a professional studio in London. , come into my life One of the most famous Italian DJs and producers of the nineties, Maurizio Molella, and the lesser-known Phil Jay participated in this production.

As often happened in those years, especially for singers, he did not have a favorable contractDespite the success, “I never went to an island to drink martinis. I was very young, I did almost everything by myself, even the video I filmed with a friend who was studying film in New York, we went to Hamburg to shoot, it was just me, her and a few friends on the set» .

«The moment I made that famous album, I broke my contract and remained an independent artist even today, in Brooklyn, against all odds,” she explains. Among a few other records, he founded his own label in 2008, which he decided to call Matriarchy Records. “There were people who questioned the legality of having a record company that employed mainly women, but even in America I gave all the labels and they were all men: is that legal?”.

Even before the Will Grieg fans, “Freed from Desire” was used in other Irish stadiums a few years ago, and as is often the case with particularly catchy melodies, it became the basis for celebratory chants or taunting opponents. But its sporting reputation was consolidated at the 2016 European Championships, when it was adopted by fans of various nationalities who heard from Northern Ireland.

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Since then everyone has sung it, even players who have made it an anthem for their journey in various tournaments, similar to what happened to Italy in 2006. Con “Seven Nation Army” Dee White Stripes. “Freed from Desire” was used by fans of all national teams at the World Cup in Qatar, and was chosen as the anthem played over the loudspeakers after goals in some stadiums. If France wins Sunday’s final, the chorus of the song will live on in the national popular memory, just as most Italians still remember the famous “popopopopo” from the summer of 2006 when the national team won the World Cup.

However, in the past year, “freed from desire” has overflowed into other sports as well: a few months ago has followed For example, boxer Tyson Fury’s heavyweight title win at Wembley, but you can hear it almost everywhere, come on. Paddle tournaments To the changing rooms of the Australian national cricket team. “SI’m happy whenever someone uses my song because it’s a celebration of sports and music: it’s not a song for winners, it’s a song for losers but still wants to party,” says Gala.

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