During NBC’s telecast of the London Olympics closing ceremony, Ryan Seacrest called the Spice Girls‘ performance the worst-kept secret of the all-star A Symphony Of British Music concert. And thankfully, many of the previously-rumored artists actually turned up to the extravaganza. (One exception was Adele, who was whispered to be making an appearance, but wound up a no-show.)
One particular pop highlight had Spices Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm and Geri Halliwell zipping around the stadium on top of London black cabs while belting out a medley of the girl group’s worldwide ’90s hits “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life”.
Spice Girls — ”Wannabe/Spice Up Your Life” at the Olympics
Another celebrated UK pop legend who created quite a spectacle included George Michael, who gave a fine performance of “Freedom ’90″ and new single “White Light” (though the latter was cut off by a NBC commercial break here in the States).
George Michael — “Freedom ’90″ at the London Olympics
Emeli Sande opened A Symphony Of British Music with her Our Version Of Events track “Read All About It”. Later, ’80s crooners Madness rocked out “Our House” while standing on top of a moving truck, and Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys offered up “West End Girls” from the back of a pair of orange rickshaws while wearing black coats and coneheads. (They definitely deserve a medal for the best outfits at the whole shebang.) The Boys were followed by boy band
One Direction, whose smash “What Makes You Beautiful” was also delivered while atop a moving vehicle. (The concert’s set was designed to replicate the city of London during its often-snarled rush hour.)
Pet Shop Boys — “West End Girls” at the London Olympics
The trio of Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz each delivered their respective hits “Price Tag”, “Written In The Stars” and “Dynamite” from speeding cars, then took to the stage to collectively perform Bee Gees‘ disco hit “You Should Be Dancing”. Meanwhile, Annie Lennox arrived via a rickety sea vessel that looked like it came straight from the set of horror flick Ghost Ship and sang her 1992 Diva single “Little Bird”.
One Direction — ”What Makes You Beautiful” at the Olympics
Legendary artists such as John Lennon, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury were tributed as well, and Jessie J popped up on stage once more as Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen rocked out a medley of classic jams. (Jessie sang Mercury’s lyrics on “We Will Rock You”.)
One surprise was Take That (sans Robbie Williams) showing up to croon their 2007 UK hit “Rule The World” just before the Olympics flame was extinguished. Frontman Gary Barlow and his wife Dawn tragically their baby daughter, who arrived stillborn, just eight days prior.
Just as Sir Paul McCartney closed the opening ceremony two weeks ago, rockers The Who brought A Symphony Of British Music to a close with their classic anthems “Baba O’Riley”, “See Me, Feel Me”, “Listening to You” and “My Generation”.
The after-effects of the concert are now being reflected on iTunes, where Jessie J’s “Price Tag”, George Michael’s “Freedom”, Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls”, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You” and Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life” have all leaped onto the Top Songs chart.
Likewise, the accompanying A Symphony Of British Music soundtrack is #13 on iTunes’ Top Albums roundup, while Spice Girls’ Greatest Hits (#37), Spice (#74) and Spice World (#125) also received a sales boost.