UPDATED: Bump-N’-Grind Britannia


Those of us who’re familiar with Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” in the original, were galled, if not surprised, by the distortions a warbler called Ed Sheeran introduced to the number, during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. (The Idiocracy was charmed, naturally.)

How do you suck the essence out of a piece of music?

Easily, if to judge by the vulgar performances that followed, most of them punctuated by the primal screams of one Jessie J, who also destroyed “We Will Rock You” (admittedly one of Queen’s worst numbers), and drowned out Brian May. Thankfully, Jessie J did not tamper with “We Are the Champions.”

A complex chord progression is the hallmark of many a Queen’s song. Today’s T & A lineup (Brit and Yankee alike) can belt out loud guttural screams. But you need a finely tuned instrument and musicality to sing well.

(An example of such an instrument is Carly Simon’s voice in this live performance of “That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be – 1972.” Hers is an evocative and nuanced voice. As to lyrics; you have to be a literate and complex individual to write as evocatively.)

Jessie J, aka The Crotch, does a poor man’s version of the Beyonce God-awful bump and grind.

There was a choir of kids (they get to them young) who mimed and gesticulated to the hackneyed sounds of “Imagine.” Their affectatious performance was reminiscent of the performance “art” of the 1960s and 1970s. So passe.

There was nothing “Winston Churchill” about the bloke that recited Shakespeare. It shows you how far removed Brits are from their own history. For a better Churchill I recommend the … historians of … Iron Maiden.

Yes, where were Iron Maiden, or real virtuosos like Ian Anderson (also a bit of a history buff, in as much as he knew a thing or two about … Jethro Tull).

The above Brit superstars were overwhelmingly … male. A man who can wield an axe would intimidate a chorus-line of prancing nuns and “men” stomping about with garbage cans.

The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics would have been far improved had the hip organizers left Freddie Mercury up on the screen and played “Queen.” Come to think of it, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” replayed over and over again would have been preferable to the camp celebration of kitsch that unfolded.

UPDATE (Aug. 14): In reply to a Facebook reader: You said what I did not. The Chinese did do a better job of the Olympic ceremonies. Theirs were artful, if rigid, displays of skill, and, while the Chinese ceremonies had a cultural flavor—they were without political overtones.