3:50 p.m. ET: Hello everyone! We are going to be live-blogging the Olympics closing ceremony, where approximately 50% of the British music industry will perform. (That’s 50% by number of acts, not by sales, otherwise it’d just be one long Adele showcase.) Confirmed are Spice Girls and One Direction, George Michael, Liam Gallagher and his band Beady Eye, The Who, The Pet Shop Boys, and Ed Sheeran; rumored is Kate Bush are Jessie J, Queen (with Russell Brand) and Muse, who if you’ll recall did this fantastically overstuffed/overblown theme song.
Stay tuned! We’ll update with all the goods.
4:00: This thing is called A SYMPHONY OF BRITISH MUSIC. It is both cheesy and cheeky, apparently. I can’t wait.
4:01: Emeli Sande with “Read All About It.” She is singing with a papier-mache piano that looks like it is literally CARVED OUT OF MARBLE. There is a decent chance this will be the lifetime peak of her career.
4:03: The clickety-clackety gear choir, so named because they are accompanied by clickety-clackety gears, which I guess are supposed to be the Industrial Revolution? One chorister has pink hair and is awesome. This is leading into a very dramatic speech by Timothy Small accompanied by very dramatic strings. Emeli Sande wishes she was singing over them.
4:07: More clicketing and clacketing and pageantry and the royal family and God Save The Queen. Also, there is a disembodied head countdown announcer guy announcing Batman and Robin.
4:10: Madness singing “Our House,” fresh off Jubilee and complete with flying kilted sax man. Most confusing part of the ceremony for non-Brits? Or would that be the marching-band “Parklife”?
4:13: The Pet Shop Boys! The most successful duo in the history of British music, which I am not going to fact-check just yet because they are riding traffic conemobiles, and this is rather engrossing.
4:15: THE BIGGEST BAND IN THE WORLD One Direction goes straight into the chorus of “What Makes You Beautiful.” They have some…let’s call it “outre” hat and frosted tips going. They’re also drowned out a little by the crowd sound and guitar and bobbysox dance brigade, and maybe 10% of it is sung live, but who’s going to care?
4:17: A lot of guys are slamming pikes at and making loud noises at the phrase “to be, or not to be.” This is not a bad metaphor for the plot of Hamlet, by the way.
4:19: Let’s take a break from the strapping young janitors to point out a CONSPIRACY THEORY (sorta):
ILX noted that all the bands so far were EMI-related. Hmm.
— Ned Raggett (@NedRaggett) August 12, 2012
4:22: “Waterloo Sunset” is being overshadowed by what appears to be Carrot Top parkouring off a large egg. They can do that, but not fake a sunset?
4:25: TWITTER FLASH FORWARD TO MONDAY MORNING:
WHO IS RAY DAVIES?
— Rohin G. (@ohrohin) August 12, 2012
4:26: Between this and “My Kind of Love,” Emeli Sande has to win the 2012 Biggest Buzzkill award. And I like her a lot!
4:28: She’s singing “Read All About It” as the stage instantly goes silent and somber blue with the faces of dejected Olympians. I would like to point out this very prophetic review from May:
Aaaaaand I think we’ve found our Olympics sadface montage! Woe betide anyone who pulls a Derek Redmond this summer: miserable Emeli will soundtrack your pain.
4:34: The athletes are honored. Do watch this part. I’ve counted at least 10 GIFfable facial expressions/random acts of camera mugging so far.
4:37: Also, Elbow is singing for everyone who wants to sway along, ironic or not. It is the sort of song where they sing “everyone” in a choral swell RIGHT AS I TYPE THAT WORD.
4:41: If you need a break, now is the time. Your bathroom break will be set to uplifting choral music.
4:50: OH NO THE CHOIR HAS ASSIMILATED ONE DIRECTION
4:53: “Running Up That Hill” is soundtracking actual running. Later on, it soundtracks the building of a large pyramid. Kate Bush is not actually performing.
5:07: This is far too much of a legitimate moment to be sandwiched in between this announcer chatter.
5:08: OH WAIT there is music! It is some sort of Bohemian Beatles Rhapsody mashup. They seem to have brought along a John Lennon hologram. In 30 minutes, it will probably have its own Twitter account. Either that, or the balloon-face Lennon.
5:13: George Michael doing “Freedom” wearing a skull belt. Projected on the walls behind him are the entire contents of the teleprompter and/or audio booth.
SAINT GEORGE HATH RETURNED IN HIS COUNTRY’S HOUR OF NEED
— Adrian Bott (@Cavalorn) August 12, 2012
5:20: George is now performing a new song that sounds like what electronic music would sound like if you reset it back to, oh, Cher’s “Believe.” He is getting a remarkable amount of screen time for this.
5:23: Kaiser Chiefs. Ratio of camera time, performers to guys racing around the track with British flagmobiles: maybe 20:80?
5:24: We now cut to what appears to be a David Bowie hologram on the fritz, which leads into a large billboard of a supermodel (like Bowie’s wife, y’know) being carted around stage while non-billboard models parade in front of built drummer guys. At the Olympics. You guys… I mean, I just… this says something about society, and it’s going to take me at least four days to figure out what.
5:29: Annie Lennox is singing. The world is perfect again. Even if she is dressed as the Eye of Sauron.
5:34: Ed Sheeran is on. The entire arena is instantly in a hush, because he has an acoustic guitar and apparently there is an audience cue card reading “HEY GUYS, THIS GUY HAS A GUITAR, SHIT IS NOW REAL.” Alternatively: “LOOK IT’S PINK FLOYD, OKAY? SHUSH.”
5:39: Russell Brand is dressed as Willy Wonka, singing “Pure Imagination” and lip-synching “I Am the Walrus” in front of a Little Bo Peep burlesque troupe.
5:42: Chance that Fatboy Slim looked like what you were picturing: 1%. Chance that Fatboy Slim secretly rejoiced at this year’s dance-music revival so he could get to do exactly this: 100%
5:43: Also, he is inside a large neon octopus. Chances that this is going to turn into an anti-drug hallucination PSA: 50-50
5:44: Jessie J is singing “Price Tag” while flaunting a big expensive car. This is a stealth sponsorship spot by British austerity campaigners. It leads into Tinie Tempah’s “Written in the Stars,” and nobody remembers who the fuck Eric Turner is.
5:48: Taio Cruz’s turn. This segment should just be renamed “Yeah, World, Your Radios Are OURS.” No brands-brands-brands-brands were actually mentioned.
5:50: This is now apparently a Bee Gees tribute by Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Taio Cruz, because the world was asking for this. Drake has not yet shown up to add his verse.
5:51: Someone please make me a GIF of that halfhearted little choreography/flourish/dance move? thing they did for the brass solo in “You Should Be Dancing.” You know the one.
5:55: COLOR-COORDINATED TAXIS (with “SPICE” license plates) AND THE SPICE GIRLS. The singing is maybe 50% below par, and maybe 1% live. I do not care.
5:58: Poor Liam Gallagher, having to follow up that. He’s singing “Wonderwall,” but one third of the audience has tuned out and is still hyperventilating. The same probably goes for ELO.
6:05: I can’t help but think there are 5 performances “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” would be better timed afterward.
6:10: Muse’s song “Survival,” which is quite possibly the most ridiculous composition ever devised and sounds like this:
6:13: Aaaaand everyone’s “lol Freddie hologram” jokes have now been vindicated. Brian May, meanwhile, shows up in non-hologram form and makes Matt Bellamy look very, very silly and small.
6:18: Jessie J gets to sing “We Will Rock You.” This means she’s gotten more songs than anyone and more screen time than every Spice Girl. She is singing and shouting the hell out of it, yes. She is also not Freddie Mercury. Jessie J and Elbow’s combined screen time is a number you probably don’t want to calculate it.
6:29: That was certainly a ceremony.