All in the music – My Top 5 Tracks at the Olympics/ Paralympics

So I have been musing for a while, trying to write an olympic blog that sums up the whole experience for me, I’m not there yet but in thinking about it one of the things that has really struck me is the brilliant choice of music that has been used across both the Olympics and Paralympic games.  Both opening ceremonies were sprinkled with musical genius, primarily from these shores, so I’ve come up with my top 5 tracks that have been used across the games.

Number 5 – Frank Turner – I Still Believe

The Olympic ceremony started for me with the kids shouting me through to the front room to tell me that Frank Turner was playing and the sight of him on a raised artificial hill inside the stadium said to me straight away that we were going to be in for something fun and different.  The title itself – I Still Believe – when you later went on to see the celebration of the NHS sent out a clear message to me that there are still things for us to believe in and gather around and as he issues a rallying call to the Punks and the Skins and invites them to come ye, come ye / to soulless corporate circus tops a great smile spread across my face and I settled down to watch the opening.



Number 4 – Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant

Well I guess after Frank inviting in the Punks it was good to have them turn up with the hilarious sight of punks on giant springs pogoing their way into the stadium while Johnny Rotten’s face flashed up on the big screen.  Pretty vacant was one of the first 7 inch singles I owned so it was great to hear a bit of it blasting out while the Queen sat up there seemingly wondering what on earth was going on, shame they didn’t play God Save the Queen really, although I guess that might have been pushing it.



Number 3 – Public Enemy – Harder Than You Think

So this track was not in either of the ceremonies but whoever had the idea to use this as the soundtrack to Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympics had a blinding stroke of genius and of course as a proud Welshman good to see Chuck D and the crew turning to the land of the dragon to sample Shirley Bassey’s Jezahel.  Nothing more to say just say it loud ……



Number 2 – David Bowie – Heroes

Smaltzy and obvious one this but I’ve always loved this track and it was used to such powerful effect when both the GB Olympic and Paralympic teams came out to showers of confetti at their respective opening nights.  Who could not fail to be inspired by the moment and as the last couple of months have demonstrated we have seen incredible feats of heroics from athletes from across the world flickering onto our screens on a daily basis.  However the Leeds writer and Bowie fan Mick McCann can write about Heroes much better than I and he has done so here



Number 1 – Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Spasticus Autisticus

Across both opening ceremonies there were incredible scenes and a real show of creative and artistic talent but nothing stood out stronger for me than when the unmistakable sounds of Spasticus Autisticus rang out having me shouting YES.  A song written as both a provocative protest and appeal for understanding in the Year of the Disabled in 1981, and which was banned by the BBC , was now ringing out across the land.  Hello to you out there in normal land / You may not comprehend my tale or understand – brilliantly prophetic lyrics that seemed the perfect way to reflect both the political issues around disability in the country at present and the staggering achievements that we have all been witnessing over the last couple of weeks.  The sight of the song being performed while Professor Stephen Hawking donned his Orbital glasses just made me think anything is possible.  Simply brilliant.



One thought on “All in the music – My Top 5 Tracks at the Olympics/ Paralympics

  1. Been meaning to comment on this for ages! I think the music played at the Olympics and Paralympics was a huge part of their success, and not just the music played at the opening and closing ceremonies. I was lucky enough to get tickets to see Handball at the Olympics, and to go into the stadium to see the athletics at the Paralympics. During the four hour session of athletics there were naturally some moments where nothing was going on on the track or field. During this time they played various different music tracks and it really added to the atmosphere as everyone started singing and dancing along to the music. Tracks that really stood out were Hot Chip’s “Over and Over”, “London’s Calling” by the Clash, Papa Americano and YMCA! For the last track the whole 80,000 people did the YMCA dance – incredibly cheesy but engendered a real “feel good” feeling around the stadium. At the handball I remember “Under Pressure” being played when Team GB were losing, again adding to the excitement. I wondered whether there was a playlist that the various DJs in charge of the music had to stick to or whether they could introduce their own tracks? In the athletics stadium there was a very eclectic range of music from hip hop to indie to disco to pop to classical – all tastes catered for. Each track or snippet of a track seemed to add to the atmosphere, increasing the tension or the happy celebratory feel. The only negative to the music choice was that they played the same track to introduce every medal ceremony – and there were about 20 of these on the night I went – Take That’s “Greatest Night”, which started to grate after about the 15th time and one moment where I felt that variety would be appreciated.

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