Katy Perry, whose song Rise is one of the official anthems for this year's Rio Olympic Games. J Scott Applewhite / AP Photo.
Katy Perry, whose song Rise is one of the official anthems for this year's Rio Olympic Games. J Scott Applewhite / AP Photo.

Olympic torch songs: the good, the bad, and the downright bonkers



Reflecting on the Olympics theme songs of decades gone by offers little sign of a winning formula. There is no obvious considered ethos or guiding principles that link the eclectic choice of artists, who include José Carreras, Muse, Celine Dion, Björk and Giorgio Moroder, and who, in recent years, have been asked to deliver official songs commemorating the world’s greatest sporting extravaganza.

The latest Games – which start in Rio do Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday – have been promoted with the effective official anthem Os Deuses do Olimpo Visitam o Rio de Janeiro (Gods of Olympus Visit Rio de Janeiro). It's an authentic, funky Latin groove that unites Brazil's traditional samba schools and rousingly plays on national stereotypes.

So far so good – but another tune selected as an official anthem for the 2016 games is Katy Perry's Rise, an anodyne electro-pop stomper cluttered with pointless samples of Olympics commentators and whooping crowds.

The most prolific – and therefore, we must conclude, most successful – Olympics theme songwriter is John Williams, the American film composer best known for his rousing scores to blockbusters such as Star Wars, Jaws and Indiana Jones.

This sense of cinematic grandeur was captured successfully on his first orchestral Olympics theme, for the 1984 games in Los Angeles, and he was called in again in 1988 (Seoul, South Korea), 1996 (Atlanta, United States), and for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The tradition of Olympics organisers parachuting in major music stars to perform a radio anthem arguably began with the 1992 Games in Barcelona. It was a vintage year for music, which established two modern standards.

The first came from crossover opera stars Sarah Brightman and José Carreras, who teamed up for the ballad Amigos Para Siempre (Friends for Life), which was composed by the hit musical team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and legendary lyricist Don Black.

The 1992 Games took place a year after Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s death, and his “pop-opera” epic Barcelona – originally the title track of a 1987 album of duets with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé – was reappropriated as an emotive theme song for the city’s games.

The 1988 Seoul Olympics served up a couple of curiosities. The better remembered is Whitney Houston's soppy One Moment in Time, composed by John Bettis and Albert Hammond, father of Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr, which topped the charts on both side of the Atlantic.

But the more remarkable of the two is the electro trippiness of South Korean act Koreana's Hand in Hand, an epic multilingual, disco ballad produced by the Italian dance pioneer Giorgio Moroder.

This kind of quirkiness is in marked contrast to the template-fitting theme songs that followed.

The 1996 Games in Atlanta opened with Celine Dion, who played perfectly to expectations with Power of the Dream, a soaring, aspirational ballad destined to be a karaoke favourite. The Games closed with Gloria Estefan's utterly unremarkable ballad Reach.

Four years later, John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John teamed up at the Sydney Olympics to sing Dare to Dream, a syrupy song few born outside Australia are likely to recall.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, in 2004 we had Björk live at the opening ceremony in Athens, crowing in a dissatisfied tone about centuries and oceans over warbling beats, in a typically kooky dress. Originally drawn from her experimental masterpiece Medúlla – a kind of conceptual reflection on the physical realm of blood and the body – the track Oceania has no rousing intent or sporting references, and was instead sung from the point of view of a body of water watching over evolution. Utterly bonkers, but kind of brilliant, the Greeks reclaimed the Olympics song in style.

It was perhaps this beguiling selection that inspired the organisers of the London 2012 Games – we shall gloss over Beijing's forgettable Chinese-language piano duet You and Me – in seeking out the most bombastic British act they could find: Muse.

With Survival, the excessive, proggy trio wrestled with combining their brief – to write a universal anthem for mass-consumption– and their own propensity for Teutonic silliness.

At the end of this particular race, silliness was the first to cross the line. Lyrics such as: “I’ll light the fuse and I’ll never lose” meant this one never really got out of the starting blocks.

rgarratt@thenational.ae

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The biog

DOB: 25/12/92
Marital status: Single
Education: Post-graduate diploma in UAE Diplomacy and External Affairs at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi
Hobbies: I love fencing, I used to fence at the MK Fencing Academy but I want to start again. I also love reading and writing
Lifelong goal: My dream is to be a state minister

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Dates for the diary

To mark Bodytree’s 10th anniversary, the coming season will be filled with celebratory activities:

  • September 21 Anyone interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor can sign up for a 250-hour course in Yoga Teacher Training with Jacquelene Sadek. It begins on September 21 and will take place over the course of six weekends.
  • October 18 to 21 International yoga instructor, Yogi Nora, will be visiting Bodytree and offering classes.
  • October 26 to November 4 International pilates instructor Courtney Miller will be on hand at the studio, offering classes.
  • November 9 Bodytree is hosting a party to celebrate turning 10, and everyone is invited. Expect a day full of free classes on the grounds of the studio.
  • December 11 Yogeswari, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher, will be visiting the studio.
  • February 2, 2018 Bodytree will host its 4th annual yoga market.
How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors
Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre flat 6-cylinder
Transmission: 7-speed PDK
Power: 500hp
Torque: 450Nm
Price: Dh530,300 as tested
On sale: Now

World Food Day

Celebrated on October 16, to coincide with the founding date of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Day aims to tackle issues such as hunger, food security, food waste and the environmental impact of food production.

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

What drives subscription retailing?

Once the domain of newspaper home deliveries, subscription model retailing has combined with e-commerce to permeate myriad products and services.

The concept has grown tremendously around the world and is forecast to thrive further, according to UnivDatos Market Insights’ report on recent and predicted trends in the sector.

The global subscription e-commerce market was valued at $13.2 billion (Dh48.5bn) in 2018. It is forecast to touch $478.2bn in 2025, and include the entertainment, fitness, food, cosmetics, baby care and fashion sectors.

The report says subscription-based services currently constitute “a small trend within e-commerce”. The US hosts almost 70 per cent of recurring plan firms, including leaders Dollar Shave Club, Hello Fresh and Netflix. Walmart and Sephora are among longer established retailers entering the space.

UnivDatos cites younger and affluent urbanites as prime subscription targets, with women currently the largest share of end-users.

That’s expected to remain unchanged until 2025, when women will represent a $246.6bn market share, owing to increasing numbers of start-ups targeting women.

Personal care and beauty occupy the largest chunk of the worldwide subscription e-commerce market, with changing lifestyles, work schedules, customisation and convenience among the chief future drivers.

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Honeymoonish

Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5

Company profile

Name: Maly Tech
Started: 2023
Founder: Mo Ibrahim
Based: Dubai International Financial Centre
Sector: FinTech
Funds raised: $1.6 million
Current number of staff: 15
Investment stage: Pre-seed, planning first seed round
Investors: GCC-based angel investors

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Things Heard & Seen

Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton

2/5


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