One last hurrah
Breaking up is hard to do: Olympics closing ceremony was like a wacky mixtapefor a painful farewell
I don't know if y'all are as bummed as I am about the London Olympics coming to a close, but I'm taking it pretty hard.
After a month of watching NBC's melodramatic hyper-coverage of these superhumans and their physical exploits, it feels like this chapter of our lives has come to a swift close. It's the cruelest breakup because we knew it had to end the whole time. We would only have this bright, shining moment in the London sun.
Did we watch enough and catch all the best moments? Did the Olympics know how much it meant to us? Will we ever find an Olympics as good as this one?
Helping to ease the pain of this passing was the mixed bag of bizarre British performers past and present who sang or played (or lip synched) in Sunday's closing ceremony. It was thankfully less Shakespearean than Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, but it was no less dramatic or cathartic for those of us facing impending singledom.
Take That, The Pet Shop Boys, Jessie J and (thank goodness!) New Direction were all there to remind us that we are just obsessive American pop culture snobs who swallow up this over-romanticized hullabaloo with reckless abandon, just like our forefathers and foremothers.
It's in our nature to love the story of an underdog rising above all odds to claim victory, and we saw that all over these games. But we also love to watch an untouchable demi-god come in and trample all the rest of the puny humans below. These same tropes came to light again in the closing ceremonies themselves, with our musical superheroes getting back up and trying again to show us they still got it.
George Michael, Annie Lennox, The Who and the damn Spice Girls got themselves together enough to get up on that giant stage and let you know that they're still alive and happy to accept your money and praise. It may be a little slower, a little duller — like, say, a London Michael Phelps instead of a Beijing Michael Phelps — but you remember why you still cheer for them.
It was odd that we didn't see Muse play the song that was chosen as the official theme of the Olympics. Kate Bush was also chopped in the editing, leaving more room for a now-musical Russell Brand to sing a song from Willy Wonka. Those strange choices in the NBC editing room were really noticeable this year, as it seems we got far more volleyball and rowing than the events we want to see more of, such as Olympic trampoline.
Oh, and then the Pet Shop Boys played synthesizers while wearing silly pointed hats and capes. Some fashion models showed up to walk the runway. And an elderly Fatboy Slim was DJing from inside a translucent, light-up octopus for a while. So... y'know, that happened, too.
But it is the legendary performances that remind us what the Olympics is all about. Those accomplished athletes that continue accomplishing unheard of records, like Usain Bolt, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, and, yeah, Michael Phelps. They make us remember that there is something larger than life happening here.
In that same way, Freddie Mercury got the honor he always deserved, leading the packed stadium in a posthumous call-and-response before everyone sang "We Will Rock You." And John Lennon's giant head got reconstructed in the stadium while children showed off choreographed sign language skills to "Imagine." Clearly, the pantheon of British singers continues to affect the whole world.
Helping to ease the passing of this month-long affair with the London Olympics, we got a taste of the passion and excitement that Rio de Janiero is going to bring to the 2016 games. It won't be the same — mostly because Kate Middleton won't be there — but I think that somehow, we'll muddle through until we see all those polo players wearing their silly hats once more.
It sure doesn't hurt that we've got figure skater Johnny Weir wearing his glittery Vera Wang outfits to look forward to in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Maybe we can love again after all.