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July 26, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Picking a title for an Olympic theme song isn’t much of a challenge. Simply go with something like “My hope, my dream, my chance,” a title that’s cheesy, inspirational and easy to translate to other languages. But it’s not as simple to come up with a song to go along with that perfect title. A good Olympic theme song must represent every country, sport and musical taste. The Vox music editors took it upon themselves to judge these past and present theme songs. Some had that oomph, some needed a few more Mariah Carey-esque high notes, and one didn’t even make it to the finish line.
"Chariots of Fire"
1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics
The ultimate slow-motion-running song tops our list because nothing is more motivating than the tick-tick of the background electronic score, a technique that first broke into films with “Chariots of Fire.” This piece, written as the theme song for the movie of the same name, was used three years later to promote the Winter Olympics because it was just that good. Now, 28 years later, the Olympics could still find an audience for this tune, and that’s why it’s our No. 1 choice.
"Anywhere in the World"
Mark Ronson and Katy B
2012 London Summer Olympics
Katy B might sing the lyrics to this feel-good theme song sponsored by Coca-Cola and produced by Mark Ronson, but many of the beats and sounds are actually taken from the steps, grunts and heartbeats of Olympians. Although this anthem is not the only theme song for this year’s Olympics, it’s the best representation of what the games literally sound like. That’s why we think it will be on playlists long after the Closing Ceremony.
2004 Athens Summer Olympics
For 2004, the theme-song band didn’t forgo traditional orchestral sounds in search of trendier tunes, but it did find a way to make the tired cello cutting edge. The all-female string quartet backed by heavy hip-hop beats conveys the passionate emotion of Olympians without uttering a word. This classical crossover song captures the intensity of an action-movie soundtrack. It’s perfect for those athletes who probably have superhuman powers.
“Dare to Dream”
Olivia Newton John and John Farnham
2000 Sydney Olympics
There’s something about Olivia Newton John and her duets that’s captivating, and this collaboration with fellow Aussie John Farnham is no different. “Dare to Dream” seems to have it all: high notes, vibrato, crescendos, corny lyrics and that perfect title. But aside from the fact that Olivia sang it, the song is just like every other theme ballad.
“One Moment in Time”
1988 Seoul Olympics
Whitney Houston could do no wrong (as far as her early career goes), and this song is a true testament to that. Yes, it screams the ’80s sound that Olympic theme songs still favor today, but in Whitney’s defense, it was the ’80s. The synthesized music of that decade hasn’t transcended time, but this song is sure to make a comeback this summer in tribute to the vocal legend.
“One World, One Dream”
2008 Beijing Olympics
No one can forget the extravaganza that was the Beijing Opening Ceremony, and this theme song was a part of that almost four-hour production. The lyrics are half-Mandarin and half-English, a good tie-in to the Olympic host, but the tune is too soft and lacks the fire necessary to amp up the crowd for the world’s biggest competition.
2012 London Olympics
Oh, where to begin. First of all, these athletes are far from being in survival mode as the song suggests; they’re at the top of their game in every aspect and getting loads of endorsements as the cherry on top. Further, this song unnecessarily takes the fervor of the athletes to a violent level with the cacophony of electric guitar and haunting background chorus. If this theme is an accurate depiction of the games to come, parents should put the young ones to bed before the competition goes Hunger Games on us all.