Saturday, July 28, 2012

Danny Boyle's Olympic Opening Ceremonies Magical Musical Mystery Tour

As devoted music fans, readers of this blog who watched Friday's opening ceremonies of the London Olympics no doubt took particular interest in the musical selections used. Film director Danny Boyle has made good use of rock music in his works, so it was no surprise that his opening ceremonies  noted Great Britain nation's role in that genre.

London Olympic Stadium Interior - April 2012 2
London's Olympic Stadium, site of Friday's opening ceremonies, in April 2012. Photo: jeffowenphotos (051_ V gold  Uploaded by Kafuffle) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

There were dozens of rock and pop songs used in the portion of the ceremonies that centered around a pair of young lovers featured in a popular TV show, and one site sought to list them all, along with the other music used in the London 2012 opening ceremonies. Many of these brief sound clips were used with film and TV excerpts, and it was noted that Boyle used clips from his own films.

Boyle is the director of movies including "28 Days Later," "Sunshine," "Trainspotting," and the Oscar winner for best film, "Slumdog Millionaire."

You can see the list, called "The Danny Boyle 86 Song Olympic Playlist," here. The selections range from British classical composers Handel and Elgar to the Kings, Beatles, The Who, and the Rolling Stones to David Bowie, Muse, the Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and New Order, according to the list. And, as fitting for the London Olympics, the theme from the film "Chariots of Fire."

Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any Spice Girls tunes, although David Beckham, whose wife was in the pop group many moons ago, was prominently featured.

(As I found out Sunday, there is indeed an album containing 37 of the songs used in the London opening ceremonies; you can see the track listing and buy the album download on The album is called "Isles Of Wonder: Music For The Opening Ceremony Of The London 2012 Olympic Games," and I heard of it because the official London 2012 website noted that it was currently the best-selling album in England and other parts of Europe, and had reached number five on the U.S. charts. Note: many of the pop hits heard during the ceremonies are not included on the disc; there are a number of tracks by the electronic band Underworld.)

Performing live at the ceremonies were the Arctic Monkeys (doing the Beatles' "Come Together") and Sir Paul McCartney, who closed out the proceedings with "The End" and "Hey Jude."

Although there was, as always, plenty of griping about the opening ceremonies, I enjoyed it and especially liked the focus on rock and other popular music. Considering that such pageants always have to serve many purposes, putting together one that's halfway enjoyable seems to be an accomplishment in itself, and this one combined great tunes with humorous touches (the James Bond/Queen Elizabeth routine; Mr. Bean's appearance), a number of live musical performances (Arctic Monkeys, McCartney, Mike Oldfield), and a dazzling fireworks show to cap it all off.

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