From Whitney Houston’s “One Moment In Time” to Gloria Estefan’s “Reach,” the official Olympic themes are usually epic power ballads full of inspirational messages about achieving your dreams and reaching your goals. However, adding a more contemporary twist to the concept, the organisers of London 2012 have chosen not one but five very different sporting anthems to soundtrack this year’s Games.
Perhaps reflecting the dominance of electronica in the current chart climate, only Muse’s suitably bombastic mini rock-opera, “Survival,” falls outside the genre, as the cream of British (and Australian) dance music get their chance to take centre stage.
Veterans of the big-beat scene, the Chemical Brothers seem a perfectly logical choice to soundtrack such a thrilling experience, and their contribution, “Theme For Velodrome,” doesn’t disappoint. With echoes of Kraftwerk’s seminal “Tour De France,” the three-minute instrumental is likely to spur on the world’s greatest cyclists with its pulsing grooves, neo-classical hooks and kaleidoscopic synths all reflecting the drama and pace of the sport.
Missing in action since their 2010 debut Acolyte, Mancunian trio Delphic are the least known act to be given such an honour, and although “Good Life” doesn’t hit the heights of “Doubt” or “Counterpoint,” its glitchy electro production and anthemic ‘we wait’ refrain are a solid introduction to their talents. Less melancholic and more euphoric than their usual fare, there are definite shades of MGMT and Yeasayer, suggesting their long-awaited sophomore may not be as New Order-inspired as their first.
The title track from Elton John and Australian duo Pnau’s unexpected but surprisingly strong UK No.1 album, “Good Morning To The Night” seems a rather strange choice, considering it hasn’t been penned specifically for the Olympics, nor does it appear to have any obvious sporting connection. In fact, considering it’s based on the pop legend’s “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters,” an early 70s album track written about the seedy underbelly of New York life, it seems a positively bizarre inclusion. Nevertheless, its sun-soaked filtered house vibes, reminiscent of the likes of one-hit wonders Modjo and Stardust, are a joy to listen to whatever the occasion.
Dizzee Rascal is no stranger to such a concept, having collaborated with Tony Award-winning actor James Corden for England’s unofficial Euro 2010 anthem, “Shout.” Luckily, “Scream” is nowhere near as questionable as that butchering of the Tears For Fears classic. Featuring the melodic vocals of Pepper, one of the losing finalists on the Must Be The Music talent show he helped to judge, it’s a little more subtle than his recent hedonistic Ibiza-friendly output, but his quick-fire delivery remains as potent as ever.
None of the five London 2012 selections are likely to have the same impact as those of Seoul 1988 or Barcelona 1992, but while they may be lacking the anthemic quality of their predecessors, they have undoubtedly brought the concept of the Olympic theme into the 21st century.