London's calling for the best Olympics opening ceremony ever

Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 01:00

REVOLVER:IT WAS A dark day when they started using music before, during and after football matches. Once all there was for successive watching generations was Barry Stoller’s too loud and too brassy Match of the Day theme. Now though you’ll be lucky to get away with a “musical art collage” that could take in anyone from Cocteau Twins to Napalm Death.

The man responsible for the “musicisation” of football is the current Republic of Ireland assistant manager, Marco Tardelli. A young BBC sports producer

was looking at Tardelli’s famous 1982 goal celebration as he was preparing video features for the Italia ’90 World Cup.

There was something so beautifully majestic about Tardelli’s celebration that the only song producer Philip Bernie could put over it to do it justice was an aria from the final act of Puccini’s Turandot – Nessun Dorma.

Après Italia ’90, le deluge. Football – with more melodrama and plot-twists than even the most Sturm und Drang operatic work – developed an obsession with musical accompaniment. At each and every major tournament it is now mandatory to reach for the slo-motion button and put some faux-meaningful indie ballad over the action.

Things reached a nadir earlier this week when the BBC played an acoustic version of a Linkin Park number – In the End – to mark England’s exit from Euro 2012. “I tried so hard and got so far/But in the end it doesn’t even matter/I had to fall, to lose it all, but in the end it doesn’t even matter” sang the California duo Us in suitably morose style. A TV audience of some 23 million was exposed to Us on Monday night; already they are reaping the commercial benefit.

It’s going to be a busy summer of sporting music placement, with the Olympics soon to provide the next drama in need of a soundtrack. First Steps, the Official BBC Olympics song, has been specially composed by Elbow (last time I looked they were from Bury, not London) and is already picking up a lot of attention, judging by the reaction to short snippets released.

Musically speaking, Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony may be the best ever, given that it will include The Jam’s Going Underground, The Specials’ A Message to You Rudy, The Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant, Underworld’s Born Slippy and MIA’s Paper Planes, along with cuts from The Stones, The Kinks, Pink Floyd and David Bowie.

But our thoughts naturally turn to The Clash and the bloody massive royalty cheque the three remaining members will receive as their London Calling is played incessantly during July and August.

Bizarrely, the London of London Calling is the polar opposite of the red phone box, Routemaster Bus, groovy Carnaby Street London being pushed by Boris Johnson, Seb Coe and David Cameron. The song details a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Food shortages, “nuclear error” and “zombies of death” do not a good anthem make – and that’s not even getting to the bit in the song where engines have stopped running and a meltdown is expected.

It is not a good thing that London Calling has been stripped of all its meaning and context and repackaged as a tourism jingle for the Olympics. Still, better The Clash sound tracking the Games then, say, Olly Murs.

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