T he reunited Spice Girls playing the London Olympics' closing ceremony. (Getty Images)
With a little British pomp and a lot of British pop, London brought the curtain down on a glorious Olympic Games on Sunday in a spectacular, technicolor pageant of landmarks, lightshows and lots of fun. The closing ceremony featured performances by a panoply of British artists, including the Who, George Michael, David Bowie, One Direction, the Spice Girls, Pet Shop Boys, Madness, Fatboy Slim and many others.
Immediately following the event, Decca Records/UMC digitally released an official closing soundtrack, "A Symphony of British Music - Music For The Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games" (complete track listing below). The album follows the label's similar-minded opening ceremony compilation "Isles of Wonder - Music For The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games."
The UK's Music Week quoted Richard Hinkley, general manager of Universal Music Catalogue who said, "It isn't only in sport that the UK punches above its weight and the success of Isles of Wonder has already shown the global appetite for British music and creativity. Releasing A Symphony of British Music just as the closing ceremony finishes allows viewers the opportunity to keep the songs ringing in their ears for even longer."
The soundtrack to the opening ceremony debuted at No. 136 on the Billboard 200 with 3,000 digital-only copies. The physical version of the 36-track set won't street until Aug. 28, more than two weeks after the games ended.
The Who's Roger Daltrey (left) and Pete Townshend. (Getty Images)
The closing ceremony offered a sensory blast including rock 'n' roll rickshaws, dustbin percussionists, an exploding yellow car and a marching band in red tunics and bearskin hats.
It was all delivered in a psychedelic mashup that had 80,000 fans at Olympic Stadium stomping, cheering and singing along. Organizers estimated 300 million or more were watching around the world.
The fun, festive and fast-moving show opened with pop bands Madness, Pet Shop Boys and One Direction, not to mention a shout-out to Winston Churchill and the Union Jack.
There were also monochrome recreations of London landmarks covered in newsprint, from Big Ben's clocktower and Tower Bridge to the London Eye ferris wheel and the chubby highrise known as the Gherkin.
George Michael (Getty Images)
It all spread out across an Olympic Stadium floor arranged to resemble the British flag.
Street percussion group Stomp built the noise into a frenzy, and dancers brandished brooms, in a nod to the spontaneous popular movement to clean up London after riots shook neighborhoods not far from Olympic Stadium just a year ago.
And there was more to come.
The reunited Spice Girls met in the middle of the stage as passengers in different taxi cabs came together for renditions of "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life." During the latter song, each of the five Spices performed while standing on top of their respective cabs, gripping metal rails for support.
Queen's Brian May with singer Jessie J (Getty Images)
Earlier, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz linked up after performing their own respective hit singles ("Price Tag," "Written in the Stars" and "Dynamite") to cover the Bee Gees' classic "You Should Be Dancing." Other highlights included the Kaiser Chiefs covering the Who's "Pinball Wizard," Monty Python comedian Eric Idle trotting out his happy-go-lucky anthem "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," and Beady Eye, led by former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, performing that band's 90s touchstone "Wonderwall."
Yet NBC, the network which had attracted some criticism throughout the games for its handling of its broadcast, angered viewers again by cutting off the tape-delayed closing ceremony, robbing viewers of performances by Ray Davies, The Who, Kate Bush and Muse, choosing instead to air new show "Animal Practice" commercial free. Predictably, the move set off a wave of backlash through Twitter and Facebook.
Prince William's wife, Kate, and Prince Harry took seats next to Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee. They sang along to "God Save the Queen."
But perhaps the best seats in the house were for the 10,800 athletes, who marched in as one, rather than with their nations, symbolizing the harmony and friendship inspired by the games.
As the crowd cheered their heroes and flashbulbs rippled through the stadium, the Olympians cheered back, some carrying national flags, others snapping photographs with smartphones and cameras.
They held hands, embraced and carried each other on their shoulders, finally forming a human mosh pit on the field.
The ceremony had something for everyone, from tween girls to 1960s hippies. The face of John Lennon appeared on the stadium floor, assembled by 101 fragments of sculpture, and just as quickly gave way to George Michael.
Fierce Ruling Diva: Annie Lennox (Getty Images)
Muse, Fatboy Slim, and Annie Lennox all performed as well -- the latter while riding aboard a giant wooden ship that glided gracefully across the stage. Queen Elizabeth II, who made a memorable mock parachute entrance at the July 27 opening ceremony, was expected to be on hand.
Eight minutes were turned over to Brazil, host of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, which promises an explosion of samba, sequins and Latin cool. Following tradition, the mayor of London handed off the Olympic flag off to his Rio counterpart.
There were also to be speeches by Rogge and London organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe, and the extinguishing of the Olympic flame.
What a way to end a games far more successful than many Londoners expected. Security woes were overcome, and traffic nightmares never materialized. The weather held up, more or less, and British athletes overachieved.
It all came at a price tag of $14 billion, three times the original estimate. But nobody wanted to spoil the fun with such mundane concerns, at least not on this night.
A Symphony of British Music - Music For The Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games: Full Track Listing:
1. Urban Voices Collective - Because
2. Julian Lloyd Webber, LSO, Stomp feat. Timothy Spall- Salut d'Amour
3. Madness - Our House
4. Massed Bands Of The Household Division - Parklife
5. Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
6. Ray Davies, Urban Voices Collective, LSO - Waterloo Sunset
7. Emeli Sandé - Read All About It
8. David Arnold - Parade Of Athletes
9. Elbow, LSO, Urban Voices Collective- Open Arms
10. Elbow, LSO, Urban Voices Collective - One Day Like This
11. Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God Remix)
12. Toby Pitman, David Arnold, Pete Lockett, Rahda Meta, Prabhat Rao, Varun Verma, Bilwa Iyer, Urban Voices Collective, Eos Chater, Tania Davis, Elspeth Hanson, Gay-Yee Westerhoff - Here Comes The Sun
13. David Arnold - Medal Ceremony
14. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (Excerpt)
1. John Lennon, Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir - Imagine
2. George Michael - White Light
3. Kaiser Chiefs - Pinball Wizard
4. David Bowie - Fashion
5. Annie Lennox - Little Bird
6. Ed Sheeran, Nick Mason, Mike Rutherford, Richard Jones, David Arnold - Wish You Were Here
7. Russell Brand, LSO - Pure Imagination
8. Russell Brand, Bond - I Am The Walrus
9. Fatboy Slim - Right Here, Right Now
10. Fatboy Slim - The Rockafeller Skank
11. Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Taio Cruz - Medley: Price Tag / Written In The Stars / Dynamite
12. The Bee Gees featuring Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Taio Cruz - You Should Be Dancing
13. The Spice Girls - Medley: Wannabe / Spice Up Your Life
14. Eric Idle - Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
15. Muse - Survival
16. Queen- Queen Medley: Day-O / Brighton Rock
17. Queen and Jessie J We Will Rock You
18. The London Welsh Male Voice Choir, The London Welsh Rugby Club Choir, LSO - Olympic Anthem
19. LSO - Extinguishing The Flame
20. Take That - Rule The World
21. David Arnold - Spirit Of The Flame
22. The Who - Baba O'Riley
23. The Who - See Me Feel Me / Listen To Me
24. The Who - My Generation