Most sung in contemporary sports

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Immediately after the World Cup semi-final victory over Morocco, France’s players were visited by Emmanuel Macron in the dressing room. As the French president walked around the room greeting them one by one, a song played from a portable megaphone that in recent years has become a chant for fans from around the world, who have adapted the text to turn it into cheers for the players. Or who simply start singing their acknowledged, sticky refrain to celebrate goals and victories.

In the video recorded in France’s locker room, the players can be seen reliving the demeanor needed to shake hands with Macron one by one, and then immediately get back to doing what they want most: singing “nannanana” from the refrain. “Freed from Desire”, a classic Italian dance music released in 1996 by the Milanese born singer Gala.

From 2016 onwards, the song has hit the most diverse sporting events, from boxing to paddle board. What made it a world-famous football song was the Northern Ireland fans, who started singing “Will Grigg’s on fire” to its tune at the 2016 European Championships.Will Griggs is unstoppabletype), referring to the striker who was the top scorer in England’s second division but ended up not playing a minute in that tournament.

In recent months, Milan fans have adopted the song as the chorus of the season that ended with the Scudetto victory, singing “Pioli on Fire” in celebration of coach Stefano Pioli. Milan’s version of the chorus is so well heard that “Why is Pioli on Fire?” I was One of the most popular searches on Google in 2022 in Italy.

It’s the second life of a song that, when it came out, stayed on top of the charts in half of Europe for weeks, from the UK to France to the Netherlands, all countries producing tons of very successful dance music in those countries. Years. Those were the golden years of the italo house, a version of house music produced and sung in those years by the producers and singers who made their very successful international careers, from Eiffel 65 to Gigi D’Agostino.

“Freed from Desire” has never left the discotheque, as it has been stirring for years: lately it has been heard more often, even if its acquisition by fans has caused some problems. As evidenced by the bemused face of French DJ Bob Sinclair when he donned it recently during an evening in Padua.

“Now everything is related to Stu Pioli,” Gala says with some annoyance: “Actually, it’s not Milan’s song, it’s the song of celebrations, of those who lose, a song of underdog Like Will Gregg”. Although the association with sports and football in particular is now almost ubiquitous, in other countries it is also sung in other contexts, some of which reflect, according to Gala, the “anti-system” spirit that inspired Text: “In France it’s the song of the LGBTQ+ community, women’s marches, and environmental demonstrations.”

“I wrote it on my own in New York,” says Gala, as she had just moved in her early 20s. «At that time I was studying photography, and during the summer I would go back to Europe. I suggested to this Italian DJ that he take some free pictures for him, and ask him in return to sing on one of his records.”

Thus began her career in music, which prompted her in a short time to make the European disco dance with a song that she recorded at the beginning in a somewhat literal way, before recording it in a professional studio in London with the rest of the most famous album. And the Like in my life. The production was attended by Maurizio Mollella, one of the most popular Italian DJs and producers of the 1990s, and the lesser known Phil Guy.

As it often happened in those years, especially for singers, he did not have a favorable contractSo, despite the success, «I never went to an island to sip a martini. I was very young, and I did almost everything myself, even the video I shot with a friend who was studying cinema in New York, we went to Hamburg to shoot and there were only me and her and some friends on the set ».

«The moment I made that iconic album, I broke my contract and remain an independent artist to this day, in Brooklyn, with all the hardships involved,” she explains. Among a few other records, he founded his own label in 2008, which he decided to make. It’s called Matriarchy Records.” At the time, there were some who questioned the legality of setting up a record company that employed primarily women, but I entered all the labels, even in the US, and they were all men: was it legal?”.

Even by Will Grigg fans, “Freed from Desire” had been used a few years earlier at other Irish stadiums, as often happens for particularly catchy tunes that become the basis for celebration cheers or heckles of opponents. But her sporting fame was solidified at the 2016 European Championships, when she was adapted by fans of different national teams who had heard it from Northern Ireland.

Since then everyone has sung it, even the players themselves who have made it a hymn to their journey in the various tournaments, similar to what happened to Italy in 2006. With the Seven Nation Army of the White Stripes. At the Qatar World Cup, “Freed from Desire” was used by fans of almost every national team, and in some stadiums it was even chosen as the song played over the loudspeakers after goals. If France wins Sunday’s final, the song is likely to remain in the national folk memory, just as “Bopopopopo” reminds most Italians of the summer of 2006, when the national team won the World Cup.

But last year, “freedom from desire” also spilled over into other sports: a few months ago has accompanied For example, boxer Tyson Fury won the heavyweight title at Wembley, but you can hear it almost everywhere, come on Exchange tournaments to the changing rooms of the Australian national cricket team. “StreetI am happy every time someone uses my song because it is a celebration of sports and music: it is not the song of the winners, but also the song of those who lose but still want to celebrate,” says Gala.

Queenie Bell

"Introvert. Avid gamer. Wannabe beer advocate. Subtly charming zombie junkie. Social media trailblazer. Web scholar."

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