Let’s be honest, the Olympics are all too often programmed for the masses. Like the NFL with the Superbowl halftime show, the Olympic Committee must appease a wide range of tastes from the estimated 4 billion television viewers. All too often this means that massive events such as the Olympics tend to lean toward very “safe” classical music.
Such is not the case with the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Friday night’s Opening Ceremony is the brainchild of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle. Although kept under lock and key, Boyle’s Shakespeare-inspired program allegedly includes a laundry list of iconic British bands including The Clash, Muse, Sex Pistols and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Last December, Boyle enlisted British dance music mavens, Underworld, as the London 2012 Olympic Games’ musical directors. The unprecedented move speaks volumes about the Olympic Committee’s commitment to pop-culture relevance. Underworld’s Karl Hyde told Rolling Stone of the booking, “As a kid you dream of having number ones, but you never imagine you can have something that’s gonna outlast you, and that certainly has done that. And the Olympics, well you never ever believe you’re gonna be musical directors of the biggest gig on earth.”
The icing on the Olympics cake could come in the form of the reuniting of Britpop legends Blur, who will be performing a new song “Under The Westway” during the closing ceremonies. The song recorded in one take appears to be the last track the band will record together, making the Olympics performance all the more special. In an interview with The Guardian, frontman Damon Albarn said, “I don’t really see any more recordings after this.”
Of course, what British Olympic ceremony would be complete without a performance from The Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney, who will also play the games’ opening ceremony on Friday (July 27). Closing the games on August 12th will be a whole bevy of British music stars both young and old, ranging from The Who, Annie Lennox and George Michael to Kaiser Chiefs, One Direction and Jessie J.
The opening and closing ceremonies are expected to cause such a stir that Universal Music Group, for the first time ever, will make a digital download of the music available immediately following the events. The bad news; the download will be restricted to residents inside the U.K.
–Jay Tilles, CBS Local