Your Music Guide: Jessie J And The Beatles Rule The Olympic Closing Ceremony
The London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremonies were so all over the place musically. They featured a “Symphony of British Music,” five songs by the Beatles, four in which Jessie J sang, One Direction on a flatbed truck and the first performance in years by the reunited Spice Girls.
This is your guide to all things Olympic Closing Ceremonies music.
The show opened with Emeli Sande, who was edited out of the U.S. telecast of the Opening Ceremonies, doing a snippet of her single “Read All About It.” The Closing Ceremony stage is covered in newspapers that contain headlines and quotes from famous British authors, so Sande’s song is set to reflect the stage dressing.
After Sande, we hear the first strands of what will be five Beatles songs in the Closing Ceremony — first up is just a hint of a gospel choir performing “Because” while the performance group STOMP! take the stage.
The next musical act are Madness, on the back of a flatbed truck, performing their ’80s hit “Our House.”
This is shortly followed by a cast dance to the ’90s Britpop hit by Blur, “Parklife.”
Then electronic dance duo the Pet Shop Boys are driven around to perform “West End Girls.”
Finally this group is capped off with the boys of One Direction, also on the back of a flatbed truck painted with white and black geometric shapes, performing “What Makes You Beautiful.” When Zayn Malik has a solo, the camera shows us a close up of his bowler hat and new blonde highlights. Most of the Olympic stadium seems to chime in, clapping along with the boys on their chorus of “nah nah nah’s.”
Omg that was unbelievable,highlight of out career, and the biggest audience we will ever play to 1 billion people!
— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) August 12, 2012
The Beatles have their second song of the night playing while the Spellbound gymnasts perform in “A Day In The Life” — also selected especially to compliment the Closing Ceremonies theme.
Ray Davies, frontman and songwriter for the Kinks, comes out to perform his band’s hit “Waterloo Sunset.”
Emeli Sande returns to sing more of “Read All About It,” themed to tie into the literary history of Britian, the “day in the life” and newspapers theme of the Closers and set to a montage of British athletes who won medals in the 2012 games.
Wow..to be here!! That was such a rush! instagr.am/p/OPhSseH5Ts/
— Emeli Sandé (@emelisande) August 12, 2012
That catchy, uplifting song that played while the athletes walked in was from Brit band Elbow and called “One Day Like This.” As the athlete walk took longer than anticipated, the show replayed Madness, Blur, the Pet Shop Boys and One Direction.
A new remix created especially for the Closing Ceremonies of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is played while a recreation of the pyramids is built.
This is directly followed by the playing of the national anthem of Uganda to honor the Men’s Marathon earlier that day. It is Uganda’s first gold medal in 40 years.
The Beatles reappear after this, with “Here Comes The Sun” played in the segment honoring the 2012 Olympic games volunteers.
We get a hint of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to start the segment of the program entitled a “Symphony of British Music,” with more from the band to come later.
This quickly segways to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which is sung and performed in sign language by a children’s choir. The mix you heard is remastered especially for the Closing Ceremonies by Yoko Ono, Lennon’s wife. The footage of Lennon is never-before seen, from the family’s personal archives of the video shoot for “Imagine.”
The next Brit symphony comes courtesy of George Michael, who comes out in all black, a sparkly skull belt buckle and mutton chops to perform “Freedom” and his new single “White Light.”
He’s followed by Brit rock band the Kaiser Chiefs, who perform ’60s rock group The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” from the rock opera Tommy.
Up next is a Bowie song montage that fades into his ’80s hit “Fashion” with a parade of British fashion models, including Kate Moss, in British fashion designers, including Alexander McQueen.
Annie Lennox comes out on a pirate ship, surrounded by dancers in Edwardian-era costume, for her solo hit “Little Bird.”
Then we have Ed Sheeran, in a red hoodie, along with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, performing the band’s hit, “Wish You Were Here.”
That was SO much fun! Absolute honour
— Ed Sheeran (@edsheeran) August 12, 2012
The British symphony of music continues with Russell Brand in a ’60s psychedelic van, first accompanied by the Willy Wonka “Pure Imagination” song and segwaying into his performance of the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.”
After the walrus, a giant octopus makes its appearance on stage only to reveal DJ Fatboy Slim inside. He plays his ’90s dance hits “Right Here, Right Now” and “The Rockefeller Skank.”
He’s followed by the emergence of Jessie J in the first of two Vivienne Westwood outfits she’ll wear onstage. Most today recognize Westwood as the designer of Carrie’s wedding dress in the Sex And The City movie, but before that she was the central force behind punk fashion in ’70s London — crafting the BSDM and bondage looks British punks were known for. For the Olympics, Westwood designed two nude bodysuits for J.
Jessie J performed her song “Price Tag” (“who cares about the money, money?”) while riding around the Olympic stage in a Rolls Royce.
Tinie Tempah, a British rapper, joined her in a Rolls of his own and the two performed together on “Written In The Stars.”
Shortly the two were joined by Taio Cruz, in his own Rolls also, who performed the hit “Dynamite.”
Finally all three joined together on stage to sing the Bee Gee’s disco hit, “You Should Be Dancing.”
Then one of the much anticipated highlights of the Closing Ceremonies occurred: the reunion of the Spice Girls. The Girls were a sensation in ’90s pop music, one of the only girl bands to pop out in the boy band heavy era. They performed their worldwide hit “Wannabe” and then took to the top of their own blinged-out black caps to perform “Spice Up Your Life.”
We did it!! I love u girls so much!!!!! xxx vb twitter.com/victoriabeckha…
— Victoria Beckham (@victoriabeckham) August 12, 2012
Liam Gallagher, of Oasis, took the stage with his new band Beady Eye to perform “Wonderwall.”
While the set up for a comedy skit happened, the Electric Light Orchestra track “Mr. Blue Sky” rolled out. This was followed by Eric Idle’s performance of “Always Look On The Bright Side” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, with a slight break for a Bollywood remix.
Muse took the stage in elegant and nationalistic costumes to perform the theme song of the 2012 Olympics, penned by them, “Survival.”
The Symphony of British Music portion of the evening was rounded out with a performance by Queen. It opened with video of singer Freddie Mercury from a 1986 Wembly Stadium concert, which transitioned into the band performing “We Will Rock You” with Jessie J on vocals. The singer was in one shoulder and one leg, sparkly nude unitard again designed by Westwood.
After the Greek anthem, ’90s Brit boy band Take That took the stage to perform “Rule The World.”
The show was closed by The Who, who performed “Baba O’Riley,” “See Me, Feel Me,” Listening To You,” and finally “My Generation.”
-Courtney E. Smith, CBS Local