I’m sure everyone and their mother saw this one coming, a song by a British institution about the one sporting discipline that has come to define the nation. More about escapism and surrealist innuendo than athletic competition, that doesn’t make it any less thrilling, and dramatic. “I Want A Bicycle Race” so true, if only there were 15 more bicycle races Britain might just sneak up the leaderboard.
One of the greatest British songs written by a true English eccentric, “Running Up That Hill” is about gender and relationship inequality, but for our purposes it captures the desperation of those resigned to second or third place. How many athletes faced with an unsurpassable barrier will sit on that podium and whisper to themselves: “If I Only Could, I’d Make A Deal With God, And Get Him To Change Our Places”.
3. ‘Till I Collapse – Eminem ft. Nate Dogg
I’m sure Steve Redgrave could appreciate Eminem’s surprisingly deft opening monologue:
“Sometimes you just feel tired. You feel weak. And when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up. But you gotta search within you, gotta find that inner strength and just pull that shit out of you, and get that motivation to not give up, and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.”
Age and physical limitations will not stop athletes from across the world giving every last ounce of sweat – until they collapse in victory or defeat. Last night, at the Excel, I saw a boxer get knocked down twice, be completely dominated through two rounds, only to pick himself up with the crowd roaring him on and knock his opponent down SIX times in the final.
Balanced, Em isn’t all delusional grandeur, “Till I Collapse” suggests that those who have over stayed their welcome should pass the flame to the next generation, a message our opening ceremony wholeheartedly endorsed.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen; we have a song about an actual Olympian, and a Gold medalist at that. Kobe might not be the best in the world anymore, but no athlete possesses a stronger and more vicious desire to win than one Kobe Bryant. The man lives and breathes competition, and Lil Wayne captures that essence on this monster of a track: “No such thing as exhaustion, no time for resting, cause I don’t take breaks – I break records”.
Unlike other Athlete inspired songs, this track is a legitimate tune, that captures the spirit of the star himself. His character, his stats, his style, and his attitude are all masterfully conveyed by Lil Wayne, hell Wheezy even drops an Olympic reference: “I’m going for the ring, I’m going for the ring, I went to Beijing and came back with the bling”.
The final statement is sublime: “Free throw line, you hear them chanting: M…V…P, M…V…P, Kobe Bryant Envy Me”.
The Olympics is a funny business, unlike so many other sportsmen, sprinters, gymnasts and even swimmers, can have an incredibly short life span. Some of the best Gymnasts peak by age sixteen – that’s it career over, get over it. So the idea of time running out on something truly beautiful and magically couldn’t be any more fitting. Whatever your sport, you always battle the clock. Those last few dying seconds signify the difference between victor and defeat, world record holders and also-rans. Still, despite the tension, despite the do or die atmosphere, as Muse so beautifully put it, you can’t stop the passion, the love, and the enthusiasm from “screaming out”.