The artistic director of the London 2012 Olympics, the auteur Danny Boyle, recently unveiled his decidedly pastoral plans for the event’s opening ceremony on July 27th. It was also let slip that Britain’s biggest musical export, Paul McCartney, will be kick starting the sporting bash with a miniature Glastonbury Festival style gig. But what have the Olympic opening ceremonies had to offer us over the last two decades in terms of musical performance?
Beijing, 2008 – Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan
British soprano, Sarah Brightman, performed a duet with China singer-songwriter, Liu Huan, at the opening ceremony in Beijing in 2008. Brightman and Huan sang the official Olympic anthem, “You and Me,” while accompanied by a montage of heartwarming hugs. Even I, SongLyrics’ resident cynic, cannot find a thing to fault here. Wait…is that…a tear…?
Athens, 2004 - Björk
At the opening ceremony in Athens, Greece, everyone’s favorite, uh, Icelandic, Björk, took to the stage in what looked like an unironed duvet. She was there to perform “Oceania,” as penned by her and the poet, Sjón, and in which she repeats the classic one liner: “Your sweat is salty.” Mm, sport!
Sydney, 2000 - Olivia Newton-John and John Farnham
In 2002, Olivia Newton-John teamed up with John Farhnam (how badly did you want me to say Travolta?) at the opening ceremony in Sydney, Australia. The pair performed that year’s Olympic anthem, “Dare to Dream,” which is so damn sweet, you may just pewk in your mouth a little upon pressing ‘play.’
Atlanta, 1996 - Céline Dion
Uncle Sam last hosted the Olympics back in 1996. For the opening ceremony, Atlanta hired the ever classy – and erm, totally Canadian – Céline Dion to perform the gloriously sappy “The Power of the Dream,” which surely deserves a gold medal for ‘the song with the most Olympic flame puns in history!’
Barcelona, 1992 – Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé
Queen front man, Freddie Mercury, was planning to perform “Barcelona” alongside the Spanish soprano, Montserrat Caballé, at Barcelona’s Olympic opening ceremony in 1992. Tragically, Mercury died of AIDS in 1991, and thus the world missed out on what could have been one of the most outstanding musical performances in Olympic history. However, all was not lost, with the song playing out during a travel montage at the beginning of the television broadcast.