I’d better round off those few posts on the Olympics with one on the closing ceremony. The games themselves kept me enthralled to the end, or at least to Mo Farah’s nail-biting 5,000 metres victory on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the opening ceremony soundtrack has barely left the Now Playing slot on my iPod. I don’t think I’ll be able to say the same for the closing.

When I heard that David Arnold was its musical director I was quite hopeful, but this felt far less musically coherent and engaging than Rick Smith’s magnificent effort. Maybe some of that was down to the mixing we heard on TV, which played up some of the ropey aging vocals of certain performers in a way that might not have been as noticeable in the stadium—as with Macca in the opening. Some was down to the timing issue at the beginning when the athletes took ages to enter. Why not get Elbow to bang out another couple of tunes instead of replaying the opening tracks?

It picked up towards the end. Muse were great, Brian May was having a blast, and Roger Daltrey was definitely the exception among the aging rockers, sounding fantastic. But the Spice Girls reunion just made me think how much better the Sugababes and Girls Aloud have done it since their heyday, and some of the other acts seemed second-string. We can’t get Oasis, so here’s the second-best Oasis spin-off! John Lennon is still dead, so let’s play a film of him and have his best song performed by a comedian who played a rock star in a movie!

As for the visuals, most of it felt like a poor imitation of Boyle’s achievement, without any of his sense of narrative. I liked the octopus, but have no idea what relationship it bore to anything else going on. The pixelated lights in the crowds were impressive, in a “look, we’re a giant disco ball” way. Apart from that, they just seemed to want us to stare at the union jack for three hours. All hail the hypnoflag.

Those giant shots of supine models on the sides of trucks were a major misstep, too. There you go, women of the world, why tire yourself out with sport when you can put on a frock and strut your stuff?

I’d better stop or I’ll end up sounding like this. I didn’t think it was the worst thing ever, but the first ceremony set the bar high and this one never came close to jumping a personal best.

13 August 2012 · Events