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Thoughts on a Closing Ceremony: London Olympics 2012

It was officially called the closing ceremony, but it was really one immense concert featuring just about every Brit who has ever stood in front of a microphone. The global audience registered in the hundreds of billions, and for large swathes of time...
August 13, 2012, 2:05pm

It was officially called the closing ceremony, but it was really one immense concert featuring just about every Brit who has ever stood in front of a microphone.

The global audience registered in the hundreds of billions, and for large swathes of time, they probably had no fucking idea who most of those bozos were. Take That? The Kaiser Chiefs? Taio Cruz? Que? Qui? 对吧? Surely, the only conclusion the rest of the world could have arrived at is that this spent and battered nation has completely run out of music and begun to plaster over the gaps by using a few leftover bar bands as putty, some X Factor paint, and filling in the final cubes of spare audio-space with an automated note-trilling machine called Jessie J.

While David Bowie lay dreaming in his cryogenic cool box, McCartney's eyelids twitched involuntarily at the sight of his dead friend's face reconstructed with paper mache, and Kate Bush sat in her kitchen in the wilds of Norfolk, trying to come to grips with the instructions on her new washing machine, over in Stratford, someone very sinister had finally achieved their dream of fusing Rock Of Ages with The Brit Awards Ceremony.

And as Boris did the coital thrust to the Spice Girls, wondering how he might cozy up to Emeli Sandé later that evening, it became obvious that this was the London we all really know and love. Not Danny Boyle's hallucinogenic phantasm of David Beckham on a speedboat racing to see Fuck Buttons at a rave set the other side of the looking glass. The Closing Ceremony seemed to aim for everything Boyle nailed so well and ended up clumsily hammering at its own thumbs. This wasn't a big reveal of how we all inhabit an Albion that remains magickal, it was Leicester Square writ large.

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First we headed to some chain boozer who'd gotten Madness and Blur stuck on loop on the PA, where the staff were too apathetic and underpaid to even notice. Then down Ruby Blue for ladies night “featuring Cheesy 90s classics,” then we got some cut-price tickets to We Will Rock You from a booth and got drunk to buddy-you're-a-young-man clap-along with Bolivian holidaymakers. A quick snap of us posing by a black cab, down the London Eye and Big Ben, back up The 99 Club for some 2-for-1 lol-istry, then, inevitably, some prick was playing Tinie Tempah on the nightbus. All that was missing was a three-minute video montage tribute to the Angus Steak House.

Forget British Leyland—nothing is a more potent symbol of post-industrial British decline than Annie Lennox. She was The Establishment's "diva" unit-shifter, and here she was again, yawning from the grave, plugging the self-same gap for people who formed their musical taste by analyzing the hundred highest-selling albums of all time. Somewhere in the past fortnight, Clapham had done a putsch and embossed its musical tastes upon a nation's.

From the first, “Oh God, they're not actually going to let him do his new single, are they?” to the final: “FUCKING DIE ED SHEERAN,” via Lily Allen's memorable “Vom,” the internet broiled, seethed, and generally galvanized itself in a froth of anti-ness as we pissed the optimism we'd spent two weeks working on down the shitter more effectively than a chimney-sweep who'd just hurled six cups of tea down his throat.

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At this point, apparently we're supposed to say things like, "back to business as usual," "Great British cynicism has returned," "isn't that a perverse blessing and don't we always like our blessings perverse over 'ere?" and generally rejoice in the fact that we've found our missing negativity. Well, it's nice to be negative in a way. But it's much nicer to be positive.

Eric Idle, though. That was top. If you're a French person who regards mime as stand up comedy.

Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

More Olympics:

The VICE Olympics Worst Dressed List

The VICE Guide to the Olympics