Nothing brings people together like dance music. If was fitting, therefore, that Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle chose legendary British electronic duo Underworld to score the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Underworld isn’t the first dance act to perform at the Olympics — that honor belongs to Tiesto — but Karl Hyde and Rick Smith certainly know how create a delicious vibe.
The ceremony told the story of the United Kingdom’s economic and cultural development, and it was was heartening to see dance music feature so prominently in the soundtrack. Watching athletes parade around the track to 90s-era rave classics like “Born Slippy,” “Dark & Long” and “Always Loved A Film” was a slightly surreal but thoroughly enjoyable experience — if there weren’t already enough reasons to be jealous of Olympic athletes, we now know that they get free Underworld concerts as well. Some people have all the fun.
Also identified in the opening ceremony: tracks from Paul Oakenfold and The Prodigy, as well as Thomas Newman’s “Ghosts,” which opens Above & Beyond’s classic 2004 Essential Mix (voted best of that year). Underworld’s tracks from this year’s opening ceremony will be released as an album later this year.
Underworld’s performance at HARD Haunted Mansion 2010 remains one of my fondest dance music memories, a beautiful reminder of what’s possible when musicians and their audience are in complete sync. The term “legendary” is tossed around so frequently these days that some of its significance has been lost. Rest assured, Underworld is fully deserving of the designation.