Seeing that everyone around the globe will have their eyes fixed on London next month with the start of the summer 2012 Olympics there, it’s only appropriate that we at TGTF Towers get involved with a post of our own. Regarding the musical selections for the Games, of course. Britain being Britain, the Olympic organisers were spoilt for choice on which artists to tap for this international showcasing event. Just in this week, we’re getting more names and details on what to expect ahead of the official start of the Games. (This post is mainly about the expected Olympic-related releases, but there is also word that there will be surprise gigs in London, which is another ball of wax entirely.)
The news of what we would hear to herald in the 2012 event started last winter, when in November 2011, it was revealed that Manchester’s Mercury Prize-winning and reigning (no longer) indie band Elbow (pictured above) would be providing the song ‘First Steps’ to soundtrack the BBC’s coverage of the momentous occasion. The song in its finished form made the rounds on telly in this promo advert in May to coincide with the Olympic torch relay that made its was all over the country.
For ‘First Steps’, Elbow decided to use a recorded choir vocal instead of Guy Garvey’s, presumably to make it more about the public and less about Elbow. In his typical self-deprecating style, Garvey has said of their contribution, “for our music to be sound-tracking it, there was a big feeling of responsibility but also we’re just dead proud to be doing it. And strange as well with none of us really being athletic.”
On Wednesday, the BBC reported Muse would be providing the Games’ official song. Called ‘Survival’, it’s already proving to be as polarising as the strange dubstep-infused trailer they released as a teaser for their next album, ‘The 2nd Law’. While there is no argument that there is an incredible amount of tradition, pomp and circumstance surrounding the XXX Olympiad, what strikes you first about this this new song ‘Survival’ is how un-Muse it is. To me, it sounds like they are trying far too hard to sound like a 21st century Queen, emphasising on making a more bombastic sound that embraces the theatrical instead of either going for something poppy, which might make it all the more enjoyable for the masses, or staying true to the Muse vision.
But beyond what we have heard in full from Elbow and Muse are all the other question marks: what are the contributions from other artists going to sound like? The BBC also let loose on Wednesday that special singles from Elton John vs. Pnau, Dizzee Rascal, the Chemical Brothers and Delphic will also be released during July and August.
Let us first consider the first of these. Pnau is an Australian dance duo whose song ‘Sad’ “includes elements from a number of Elton John original sound recordings including ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’, ‘Crazy Water’ and ‘Curtains’ to name but a few”. Before hearing it, I thought well, this could go either way: it could be a horrible, ill-advised sampling experiment gone wrong, or it could be something refreshingly new and different. Then I found the official video. What is this? It reminds me of Empire of the Sun in a way, and not in a good way. In any event, remember them, because you can expect Pnau to become a household name; how they (or their management) was able to score Olympic promotion just in time for the release of their debut album is quite a marketing coup.
Dizzee Rascal needs no introduction. He’s been making the rounds at many summer festivals, including both Evolution and Beach Break Live that we’ve managed to cover. As you might have already expected, Dizzee surely knew he was going to have this honour long ago, as the below ‘Your Britain’ video shows him talking about his childhood and having a look round at the stadium where presumably he will be performing on opening night. I think it’s safe to say we can expect a high-octane, bounce-a-minute stonker from him that will get people bopping all over the world.
Then we are left with the Chemical Brothers and Delphic. This is where we only guess what will happen, which is rather interesting because the two bands, while both dance-oriented and from Manchester, are at opposite sides of the career spectrum. Neither band has released anything since their last albums in 2010: ‘Further’, the Chems’ seventh, and ‘Acolyte’, the debut for Delphic. While there has been a long time of incubation, shall we say, since we last heard anything new from either of them, they have probably only had the last 6 to 8 months, at most, to think about how they want to be remembered with the memory of the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Chemical Brothers have not talked publicly about their involvement, but Delphic excitedly Tweeted “We cant [sic] tell you how much it means to be involved with a world spectacle so great it only comes around every 4 years. this time on our patch”, which says to me not only have they given this a great deal of thought, but they also considered the gravity of the situation and what it means when the eyes of the world (or, perhaps the ears are better suited in this case) are put squarely on you.
We here at TGTF will be looking forward to the coming weeks for word on all these official releases. This is definitely one Olympics where the excitement regarding the music specially made for the event equals or exceeds the excitement for the actual sport. Reuters has reported the remaining releases are scheduled to drop as follows: Elton John vs. Pnau on 16 July, Delphic on 23 July, Chemical Brothers on 30 July and Dizzee Rascal on 6 August. The Muse single ‘Survival’ is available for purchase now.