Olympics: London's Closing Ceremony Rocks On and Rocks Out
[SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't watched the Olympic Closing Ceremonies and don't want to know how it all went down, don't read any further.]
It was all pop, rock, spice and even some Monty Python as London's closing ceremony bid adieu to the Olympics and kept the party rocking all the way to Rio.
Unlike the opening ceremony's history lesson, the closing ceremony was all about the tunes. With a theme of "A Symphony of British Music," the festive and irreverent three-hour spectacle celebrated the indelible contribution the host nation has made to music.
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Things first kicked off with "Rush Hour," a segment capturing a hectic London day — with cars and trucks wrapped in newspapers featuring lines from famous British literature — that was topped off with Timothy Spall, dressed as Winston Churchill, reciting the same passage from The Tempest that Kenneth Branagh read on the opening ceremony. After Batman and Robin escaped an exploding car (a reference to a classic moment on the British comedy series Only Fools and Horses), Madness got the jukebox party started with a performance of "Our House" and was followed by Pet Shop Boys, One Direction, Elbow and Ray Davies of The Kinks.
But that was just the opening act. After athletes filed into the stadium — whose set was in the shape of the Union Jack flag — the real rock concert began. George Michael headlined a rousing medley of performances by Kaiser Chiefs (singing The Who's "Pinball Wizard"), Annie Lennox (aboard a ghost ship), Ed Sheeran (singing "Wish You Were Here" with Pink Floyd's Nick Mason), Fatboy Slim (on a giant inflatable octopus) and even Russell Brand, who belted out Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory's "Pure Imagination" and The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus."
Pop got in on the fun with the Spice Girls' highly anticipated reunion that saw them perform "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life" on top of zipping cabs. Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz also came together for a rendition of The Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing" after performing their own hits. Jessie J returned later to perform "We Will Rock You" with Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor after a video of the late Freddie Mercury performing at Wembley Stadium in 1986 played.
In a nod to Britain's cheeky humor, former Monty Python member Eric Idle led a mass performance of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" after an unsuccessful human cannonball attempt.
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A touching moment came when a choir of school children sung "Imagine," which blended into a re-mastered video of John Lennon singing the song while performers pieced together segments of Lennon's face on the stage.
The night wasn't exclusive to music: Paying homage to British designers, supermodels including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell strutted their stuff to the tune of David Bowie's "Fashion."
Other performers featured were Liam Gallagher (singing Oasis' "Wonderwall"), Muse, Take That and The Who, who closed the show after the Olympic flame was extinguished. The 204 copper "petals" that made up the flame will be distributed to each country that participated in the Games.
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The show also included the traditional handover ceremony, in which the Olympic flag is given to the host of the next games, Rio de Janeiro in 2016. After Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio, received the flag, a carnival-style presentation about the Brazilian capital was unveiled, featuring Renato Sorriso, the dancing sweeper, soccer star Pele and model Alessandra Ambrosio. The 2016 Games will be the first time the Olympics will be held in South America.
The Rio Games will kick off Aug. 5, 2016. Before then, Sochi will host the Winter Olympics starting Feb. 7, 2014.
What did you think of the closing ceremony?