Olympic anthems are fascinating. Patriotic, positive, and often corporate-sponsored, these tracks are tailor-made to rally athletes across the finish line, to pump up a nation, and to hopefully appeal to…you know….the entire world. (And sometimes sell soda.) What could possibly go wrong?
Well this year, stuff did. Yet some things went relatively right, too. Other things went: huh? Either way, you’d be hard-pressed to find all the Olympic songs this year in one place, so here they are, for your scorning and guiltily-enjoying pleasure, below.
Muse — “Survival”
The official Olympic anthem went to London’s minor key rock gods, Muse. It was an interesting choice, considering that “cheery” isn’t in their canon. Yet, while it’s easy to ragingly hate on any official song of any official event that leaves a city traffic-choked, the song is pretty epically rock ‘n roll, especially when that chorus of the apocalypse bursts in. I could win a round of polo to this, for sure.
Psy — “Korea”
And now for something completely different.
If you don’t know Psy, he’s the genius behind this dose of brilliance. This guitar-pounding pump-up track could have easily contributed to South Korea murdering the men’s archery records this year. The video is a one-shot stroll through Seoul, but leave it to English subtitles to ruin everything. “If we take out our knife, at least cut up some radish” is probably better left untranslated.
Sean Paul — “Hold On” [or "Hold Onto The Dream"]
“Get Busy” legend Sean Paul dropped this track on behalf of Jamaican athletes, who have been faring exceptionally this year. It’s heartfelt and melodic dancehall, if not a little too, well, sad or something. It makes you feel like the proverbial “dream” is slipping away, rather than right here, where the country has kicked repeated 100-meter ass and just celebrated 50 years of independence. Where’s the booty, dude!
Guba (prod. by Kaywa) — “Guba Olympic Song”
GUBA is an organization that honors UK-based Ghanaians, and they therefore have access to some of the best Afro-pop and hip-hop performers on the planet. Simply called “Guba Olympic Song,” this melodic, layered, constantly-changing number is probably the only entry on this list capable of hitting pop charts.
Dizzee Rascal ft. Pepper — “Scream”
This one is, unfortunately, just okay. Dizzee’s flow is impeccable as always, and newcomer Pepper has a gorgeous belt, but the song fails to go anywhere. After all that buildup you’d hope for some kind of ridiculous stadium-tastic explosion worthy of a good pole vaultin’. Don’t get your hopes up.
Janka Nabay feat. Bajah — “Nar London”
If straight and narrow pop isn’t your thing, “Nar London” is a slightly more authentic selection, despite the drizzling synthesizer and lightning-speed hip-hop flow by Bajah. Set to Sierra Leone bubu beats, the track by Janka Nabay is perfect for a pre-run ass-shake ‘n ham string stretch.
Mark Ronson & Katy B — “Anywhere in the World”
Brought to you by Coca-Cola, Mark and Katy got a little weird with the melody on this one. The chorus is pretty catchy and the whole thing has an appropos world stage patriotic anthem feel, but by the time you get through all of these you start to crave some anarchic death metal. With that, we’re signing off with this.