The Six Best Songs About Olympic Events
3. Belle and Sebastian - "Stars Of Track And Field"
Ahh, the great power of the great hook, wherein we can cherry-pick significance and deem all other lyrics irrelevant. Personally, I would not want to look U.S. shot-putter Christian Cantwell in the face and quote the lyric "Could I write a piece about you now that you've made it? / About the hours spent, the emptiness in your training." I would much rather sing that glorious chorus "The stars of track and field are beautiful people," which in this made-up instance translates to "please don't shove a javelin up my ass, you scary human being."
2. Pink Floyd - "Run Like Hell"
You can intellectualize the 800 meter foot race as much as you'd like, but Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell" makes the strategy seem simple: "Run run run run run run run run run run run."
1. Queen - "Bicycle Race"
Great Britain could win every gold medal at this year's Olympics, setting new world records for each event in the process, and the country's achievement would still pale in comparison to the remarkable feat that is Queen's "Bicycle Race." No pole vaulter can reach the height of Freddie Mercury's vocal range, and no diving duo can spin in such perfect synchronization as Queen does when negotiating this song's whiplash structure. And the production of "Bicycle Race," like the Women's Road Cycling event, displays the impressive coexistence of humanity and technology. As I get sucked deeper into the Olympic coverage, a song this remarkable reminds me why I lean towards arts instead of sports (other than the whole physical fitness thing). Races and matches can be an inspiration in that triumph of the human spirit way, but at the end of the day, we're talking about numbers, dissecting success into hundredths of seconds. Even in the categories judged by panels, clear-cut winners and losers are determined. A similar achievement in music creates its own unique reality, a wormhole that sets it apart from the concept of competition and makes it incapable of being minimized by the hard work of another. When our preferred athletes win at the Olympics, we feel vicarious pride but cannot know the actual feeling of that victory. You don't have to be Michael Phelps to enjoy "Bicycle Race" - although he might have a suggestion on how to enhance the listening experience.