When pop and sport meet, it can make for a nasty mess. Chart history is littered with appalling anthems for official athletic events. But what about when our stars, in the course of their everyday pop lives, sing about the actual grunting, shoving and leaping that goes on at the Games?
Girls Aloud – Jump (2003)
What’s the discipline? Trampolining
Does it sound right? Yes. Xenomania give the dusty old Pointer Sisters song a chrome finish that turns it into something exhilarating and pneumatic. Listen on headphones and you’ll believe you can fly. Let it take you in the disco and you’ll have someone’s eye out. ‘If you want more, more, more… then jump!’ shriek the Girls, in fine competitive spirit. Gold medals all round.
SNOW PATROL – RUN (2004)
What’s the discipline? The 200m.
Does it sound right? Hell no. What a dreary trudge. No-one in their right minds would run in a serious competition to this. In case you think I’ve been unfair assigning this song to a sprinting event rather than a long-distance one, bear in mind that the key lyric is ‘And we’ll run for our lives,’ delivered with none of the urgency that implies. Cut to Gary Lightbody standing around with flares on the Olympic track, singing ‘Slower! Slower!’ He DID have a choice. Disqualified.
GOLDFRAPP – RIDE A WHITE HORSE (2005)
What’s the discipline? Dressage.
Does it sound right? Yes, it really does. The beat’s prissy but determined; the perfect soundtrack to prancing around on a long-faced friend. ‘I want blisters, you’re my leader!’ breathes Alison, demonstrating the commitment to training that will take her as far as she likes in the competition. Silver.
FRANK OCEAN – SWIM GOOD (2011)
What’s the discipline? Men’s Freestyle.
Does it sound right? As soft and seductive as the sea. Frank sings about driving off into the ocean and seeking a personal transformation in the vastness of the water – perhaps death, perhaps enlightenment and rebirth. In other words no, this is hardly suitable subject matter at all. The dirty old ocean is no clean purpose-built swimming pool and the Olympics are all about certainty, endurance and strength. Away with your beauty and ambiguity Frank Ocean. Away.
USHER – DIVE (2012)
What’s the discipline? Diving.
Does it sound right? ‘These waters can get a little busy but I got experience!’ boasts Usher. It’s a promising start from this well-practiced performer. ‘I don’t need a life saver, baby going deeper ain’t gon’ kill me!’ he goes on promisingly, presumably readying his position on the board. ‘It’s raining inside your bed,
no parts are dry, loving makes you so wet, your legs, your thighs…’ he adds, as the commentators begin to exchange worried looks. ‘I’m in so deep, it’s up to my waist… I don’t mind playing in the rain!’ he concludes, at which point we must all accept that Usher is diving in a different Olympic ring to the rest of our competitors and turn sadly back towards our lives.