Prepare for Symphonic Olympic Tribute to “All Things British”

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Posted by on 02/23/2012 at 12:26 PM News

The Popdust Files: all things british, closing ceremonies, olympics

Anglophiles of the world, stand up. Billboard reports that the Olympics this year will include a closing-ceremony tribute to British music—all British music. The show is said to be a symphonic arrangement of the history of music from the United Kingdom, an “elegant mashup of British music” with orchestrally-arranged English songs that everyone knows and loves. “We go from—without saying we’ve booked anyone—Elgar to Adele,” says music director David Arnold. “It is, in a sense, the soundtrack of our lives,” confirms opening-and-closing-ceremonies producer Stephen Daldry.

Well, we don’t know about any of that Edward Elgar business—he’s the guy who did “Pomp and Circumstance,” yeah?—but we have an idea about how the set should go from the rock era forward:

  • The British Invasion. Starts out with the Whotles super-group of the surviving members of the Who and Beatles, Roger Daltry on vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, Paul McCartney on bass and backing vocals and Ringo Starr on drums. They perform rip-roaring versions of “Twist and Shout” and “My Generation,” before being interrupted by the opening sitar riff of “Paint it Black,” at which point the Rolling Stones show up, beat up the Whotles and steal their instruments, and play a riotous version of “Sympathy for the Devil.”
  • Glam Rock. David Bowie comes out in his Ziggy Stardust getup to play a brassy version of “Suffragette City,” with Mark Ronson taking the place of Mick Ronson on guitar, and Bowie giving him a mock-blowjob during an instrumental break. Then they are joined by Justin Hawkins of the Darkness dressed up as Marc Bolan of T. Rex, and the group does “20th Century Boy” while everyone in the orchestra dons feather boas and glitter-glued, star-shaped sunglasses.
  • Punk. The opening chords of The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” played by a violin quartet whips the crowd into a frenzy, as a 127-year-old Johnny Rotten appears as conductor. (After the song, he snaps the baton in half and eats it.) Then returns the brass section playing the opening riff and bass line to The Clash’s “London Calling,” with Mick Jones wearing a sleeveless Union Jack t-shirt with the message “J.S. 1952-2002″ scrawled on it. At the end, he hits a plunger and blows up a mock Buckingham Palace on a sidestage.
  • Synth Pop. A frenetic string section approximates the arpeggiated synth riff from Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” as Philip Oakey and Susan Ann Sulley sign a heart-rending duet of the song. At the end, they don poofy wigs and a bass clarinet starts the low synth hum from “I Ran (So Far Away).” Suddenly, the whole orchestra is wearing the wigs, and out come A Flock of Seagulls to perform their signature hit amidst a badass laser-light show.
  • Kylie. Amidst an army of backing dancers wearing gold hot pants, Kylie plays a quick medley of her UK hits, from “The Loco-Motion” to “Where the Wild Roses Grow” (featuring a surprisingly classy-looking Nick Cave) to “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” Daft Punk probably shows up at some point towards the end, not really doing anything except standing behind two stationary turntables, nodding their heads and occasionally pointing at random audience members.
  • Take That vs. Spice Girls. The two ’90s megastar groups trade off verses of “Back for Good” and “2 Become 1,” before joining arms for a rousing ten-member, full-orchestra version of “Love is All Around,” intercut with shots of Wet Wet Wet seething and balling their fists backstage. ‘
  • Mopey Britpop. The Gallagher brothers come on stage for their first performance together in years, a lush, symphonic rendition of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” When done, Noel takes off his acoustic guitar and hands it to Thom Yorke, who leads the orchestra in a version of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.” He then passes the acoustic to Chris Martin, who gets through about a verse and a half of Coldplay’s “Yellow” before Bono crashes the stage and prompts the orchestra into playing a half-hearted rendition of “One,” while Martin gamely shrugs and puts his lighter up.
  • Crazy Frog. The climactic performance is of Crazy Frog’s cover of “Axel F“, with the clarinet and viola sections trading off playing the “ring-ding-ding” utterances and a skanking Russell Brand leading the whole thing in a huge frog suit and big goggles. In the audience, Adele claps along and figures she probably deserves the break from the spotlight.

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