If critics didn’t have something to complain about after London’s Opening Ceremonies just over two weeks ago, they sure do now after last night’s closing show. I went in not knowing what to expect (aside from a Spice Girls reunion, to the delight of my seven-year-old self) and that was probably a wise idea, as I have a feeling any previously high expectations were lowered drastically within the first half-hour.
The Opening Ceremonies seemed worlds away from this show, which came off as a sort of compilation (that’s putting it nicely) of British pop culture. While the opening festivities were artistic, historical and fluid, last night’s show felt more like a few warped Grammys performances with some history thrown in there in the form of English poetry.
Of course, it’s well known that Great Britain has a rich culture and has produced some of the most talented musicians ever, but it seemed like last night’s show was like a half-assed attempt to showcase that. And while many greats have passed on, I think that if you’re going to do The Beatles, Queen or Pink Floyd you either do them right or not at all.
Note to readers: The order I’m writing in may not be the actual order of each act, because honestly, who could remember?
After Paul McCartney’s stellar performance at the Opening Ceremonies, this show featured a children’s choir singing “Imagine,” wearing shirts that said ‘Imagine” (imagine that!), as an abstract sculpture formed of John Lennon’s face at the center of the arena. The sculpture was cool, but it seemed like one of the many parts of the show that were thrown in there just for kicks.
Few expected Pink Floyd to show up, but I was kind of disappointed in Ed Sheeran’s rendition of “Wish You Were Here,” though he was accompanied by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. I guess Sheeran is currently popular with teens, but he could’ve at least brushed his hair or worn a nicer hoodie – just saying. Though the recreation of the “Wish You Were Here” album cover at the end was a nice touch. However, I’m placing Sheeran in the same category as One Direction, who lip synced its song for the viewing pleasure of the younger set and was gone without a trace.
I think the best word to describe the show was random. While I think the Spice Girls reunion satiated the palates of now 20-something fans, their performance seemed rushed (and not just because they were riding around on top of cabs) and impersonal. Then Russell Brand came in on what was supposed to be the Magical Mystery Tour bus and sang, “I Am the Walrus” through a megaphone. He wasn’t bad, but it was strange.
However, for me, the most out-there and unnecessary part of the show was the fashion portion, which began with a montage of David Bowie’s many hits and outlandish looks, ending with his song “Fashion” and a parade of models including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. It was a letdown when Bowie didn’t show after his tribute (not that he was expected to), and a few models strutting down catwalks didn’t suffice to honor the powerhouse that British fashion has become.
But the thing that everyone is talking about today is the huge role that British superstar Jessie J played in the ceremony. She rode around singing her hit “Price Tag,” and was then joined by Taio Cruz and Tinie Tempah. You’d think she was done there, but lo and behold, she was part of the climax of the show that was the Queen reunion. She belted out “We Will Rock You,” which seemed forced and left viewers with a sour taste in their mouths. It’s unfortunate because Jessie J is truly talented, but it was a prime example of ‘if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.’
Overall, the Closing Ceremonies were more like a strange concert with no focus on the athletes whatsoever. It was all about trying to make the last glimpse of London a memorable one, but it may be for the wrong reasons. The athletes were basically concertgoers during this ceremony, when they should’ve been stars. They really only get attention for two weeks ever four years, which is another argument in itself, but I hope that when Rio’s time comes, they find ways to incorporate not only their culture, but the athletes who make the games riveting and relevant.
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