We loved the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony and the music chosen by director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire) and musical directors Underworld was really just our nation’s desert island discs, with a bit of dancing. Oh, and the Queen parachuting into the stadium.
For those of you who’ve never heard it, Desert Island Discs is one of the BBC’s most popular radio programmes, broadcasting individuals’ favourite tracks since 1942. Everyone from Tom Jones to Tim Minchin, from Eartha Kitt to Annie Lennox and a few politicians and some good people have named the tracks they would want to take on a desert island.
The London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony began at precisely 20:12 on Friday 27 August, was watched by 80,000 people in the Olympic stadium and was seen by peak TV audiences of 26.9 million in the UK and a record 40.7 million viewers in the US, despite not being screened live. That last statistic makes it the most-watched non-US Olympic opening ceremony ever.
During the course of the four-hour ceremony, the music played included TV theme tunes as all as some of our favourite blasts from the past – London’s Calling by The Clash, God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols (minus the rude bits) and the Jam’s Going Underground.
Classical music included Edward Elgar’ Nimrod from the Engima Variations performed by the LSO On Track, featuring young musicians from ten London boroughs. Memorial sequences to the two world wars were accompanied by 1,000 percussionists performing Underworld’s And I Will Kiss led by Dame Evelyn Glennie. As the Union flag was raised, the national anthem was performed a capella by the Kaos Signing Choir for deaf and hearing children.
Classic rock contributions came with Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and a humorous rendition of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire featuring Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean. More up to date performances included Bonkers by one of East London’s favourite sons, Dizzee Rascal.
Emeli Sande performed Abide with Me in tribute to the victims of the 2005 London bombings.
Oh yes, and then there was The Pet Shop Boys, the Bee Gees (wh0 we are still definitely claiming as British), U2 and David Bowie. No-one is really sure whether Sir Paul McCartney’s performance was great or a little ill-advised. Judge for yourself.
After the parade, Arctic Monkeys performed I Bet You Look Good on The Dancefloor.
Within 48 hours the soundtrack, released immediately as a download, topped the iTunes album chart in Britain, France Belgium and Spain and was at number 5 in USA. A two disk CD is set to be released tomorrow and will, no doubt, storm the charts around the world. I think even those of us who have many of the tracks already in one form or another will be getting our credit cards out.