Photo Credit: LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages
When it comes to pop musicians, Great Britain's got a deep bench. And the Olympic Committee did its best to utilize all that talent for Sunday's Olympic Closing Ceremony.
So who exactly rocked out? Classic icons such as Queen and The Who. A slew of '80s-era pop stars, from Annie Lennox to George Michael to the Pet Shop Boys. And of course, there was the much-anticipated, crowd-pleasing reunion of The Spice Girls, performing together for the first time since their 2007 reunion tour.
After kicking off with a chiming countdown from a fabricated Big Ben, the concert event paid tribute to several realms of the British entertainment culture. Viewers were reminded that England sure has contributed some offbeat comics to the world: There was Monty Python member Eric Idle, who arrived via cannon to sing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life;" and controversial comedian Russell Brand, who dressed as a deranged Willy Wonka to belt out The Beatles' "I Am A Walrus."
British models (including Stella Tennant, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, among others) strutted in as part of a tribute to the London fashion industry. And Darcey Bussell, principal ballerina with the Royal Ballet in London, graced the stage, too. Fatboy Slim rode in on the head of a giant, fluorescent octopus because...well, there was no reason. That's the point!
But at its heart, the show was a pop/rock concert. Annie Lennox sailed in on a pirate ship, singing one of her songs from Bram Stroker's Dracula. George Michael and Liam Gallagher of Oasis both sang their biggest hits ("Freedom" and "Wonderwall," respectively). The Pet Shop Boys also dusted off their biggest song, "West End Girls," but they spiced up the proceedings by performing in looong, black, pointed hats. Cyclists in equally weird orange hats pulled them in on rickshaws. Go figure.
Speaking of spice, five London taxi cabs zoomed in and around the stadium floor, each ferrying its own fabulous Spice Girl for a performance (of the songs "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life") that had audience members squealing in delight.
The moment could only have been topped by the resurrection of Freddie Mercury, which would unfortunately be impossible. But Queen's frontman did appear with his bandmates Roger Taylor and Brian May in the form of video footage from a 1986 concert, with British pop singer Jessie J singing lyrics from "We Will Rock You."
The Who took the final, headlining slot, with Roger Daltrey belting out "Teenage Wasteland" and "My Generation."
On the whole, the show was great -- but England's roster of rock and pop icons also includes The Rolling Stones, The Police, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Adele, Coldplay, and dozens of others who didn't participate. The event's organizers could have at least tried to quell rumors that many of these acts would be performing. I know I would have enjoyed it more if I weren't expecting to see some of them! But that's just a quibble. Overall, the organizers did their best to make good on the pledge to host the greatest-ever afterparty. No doubt the athletes got their money's worth.