The Sounds of the Olympics

I love the summer edition of the Olympic Games. Granted, it’s lost some of the luster of the Cold War days when you would root for the U.S. team to bury the Commies and curse those evil East German judges for bringing down the scores. Now, the only thing to root against is any event that includes the word “synchronized,” which apparently translates universally to “beer run.” We are indeed one world.

But here we are in Beijing, and the Cold War/Bamboo Curtain days are gone in the Olympics, particularly as it relates to the music blaring during the events. Watching the men’s beach volleyball competition I was struck by the snippets of music that played in the venues after each point. Very Western, to say the least. There was “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet; “Song No. 2” by Blur; “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones. It felt very American, almost like being at a Steelers game minus the annoying “Here We Go.”

It also got me to thinking (and to the alleged point of this post) of how much power the person choosing the music could have on the psyche of the competitors. Imagine the heckling possibilities of Elvis Costello’s “The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes,” if after a spiker drills one in the net, he hears “I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused.” Or Beck’s “Loser.” Picture Madness’ Suggs shouting “One Step Beyond” to rattle a gymnast who doesn’t stick the dismount.

Music could also help with the healing process. Billy Bragg could sing, “We’re both going to have to accept that this might be as good as it gets” (from “Rule Nor Reason”). It could implore, thanks to Joe Jackson and “Look Sharp!” And it could remind sprinters of how hard they’ve trained to get to this competition, thanks to the Clash’s “Police on My Back” and its chorus of “been running Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.” And imagine the power of surf music or the soundtrack to those classic NFL Films videos (combined with the voice of John Facenda). World records would fall faster than ice melting on a hot Beijing sidewalk.

Even the more genteel events like the gymnastic floor exercises could get a boost with songs like James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” or Paul Weller’s “You Do Something to Me.” One thing is for certain, though. There isn’t a song on earth that could save any of the synchronized events…although Fear’s “More Beer” might be appropriate.

--Chris Fletcher, Friday Evening Mix Host

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