LONDON – At the London Olympics, Adele is served with tennis, Beyoncé bounces around the basketball court and Queens We Will Rock You spikes up beach volleyball.
A walk around Olympic Park is a nonstop musical mystery tour – all part of a boisterous music policy that aims to keep spectators pumped up.
Songs waft from speakers mounted on poles and from buskers dotted around the park. Half-heard snatches of music mix with the booming roar of the crowds coming from venues.
The music is inescapable – but for visitors and staff, mostly welcome.
Its kind of down with the kids music, said volunteer Olympic worker Anna Letts, standing outside the main stadium. Poppy, modern – no old songs.
When its 10 oclock and youre knackered, or tired, that comes on and it gets you going,
Music drove the British Invasion in the 1960s and Cool Britannia in the 1990s, and its key to the way the island nation is projecting itself through these games. Assembling a suitably Olympian soundtrack has been a crucial, complex task.
Director Danny Boyles opening ceremony was packed with choice British cuts, from the Kinks to the Sex Pistols to Dizzee Rascal. Sundays closing ceremony promises a symphony of British music, with live performances by acts including The Who.
For Games venues, organizers have a list of 2,012 songs – as in London 2012 – arranged into playlists to suit the mood. The music is predominantly British, but includes global stars like U2, Jay-Z and Britney Spears.
Heritage sports like tennis, rowing and equestrian get a suitably classic soundtrack – classic, in this case, encompassing Adele, the Rolling Stones and orchestral Led Zeppelin.
Surprise live acts, including Pixie Lott and the Pet Shop Boys, have been popping up to play at Wimbledon and other venues.
Beach volleyball has become one of the most popular events of the games, in part because of its cheeky razzmatazz atmosphere, which includes pompom girls and a barrage of upbeat tunes, from Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go to My Sharona. Sand-raking between the matches acquires a slapstick air thanks to the Benny Hill theme tune.
A few have complained that pounding soundtracks are distracting from the competition.
The Daily Telegraph criticized what it called the deafening pop and techno music played on the first night of Olympic track and field competition.
Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Olympic organizing committee, conceded that we did tone it down a bit after that first night, but insisted the musical selection was popular with everyone but purists.
There are people of course who would prefer complete silence and focus and concentration on the athletes, he acknowledged.