5 Songs That Would Have Been Worse Than
  • WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 03, 2011

  • Posted by: Joe Puglisi

The tourism campaign of the 2012 Olympics in London has caused a bit of a stir in the music community due to its use of "London Calling" by The Clash as the official jingle. It may have seemed intuitive at the surface, but as many have pointed out, the subject matter of the track is a little bit grimmer than a jovial call to congregate in foggy Londontown. Sure, it's true, the song deals with drugs, unemployment, and general squalor, but the phrase "London calling/to the faraway towns" can be isolated enough to sound like a cry for world unity... right? At the very least, the producers didn't pick any of the other London-centric tunes that a slightly more misguided creative team might have recommended. We've rounded up five that would have been just as shallow, if not worse, and how we'd have done them (or the spin on them) to fool the masses.


1. Coldplay - "Cemeteries of London"



Feasible, but definitely the "alternative" choice, even by this list's standards. The song has 'London' in the title, but more importantly, an isolate-able moment for repetition and misappropriation: "singing la-la-la-la-la eh/ and the night over London, hey". Not beyond the realm of possibility—juxtapose a burning torch and some Big Ben and we've got a national spot worthy of the crown. However, Coldplay's tune is referencing London in the 1800s... and it's a little morbid to use cemeteries for a celebration of the world's athletic abilities?


2. The Killers - "Sam's Town"



This is an easy one for the lazy, misleading Ad agency. Use the aggressive intro, but then fast forward to the sing-song-y "I see London/I see Sam's Town" over and over until we get the point. No one will really listen to the lyrics outside of the commercial, right? Ignore the fact that this is a very American song with references to red, white, and blue birthday cake, the 4th of July, and more importantly, the Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Las Vegas. "But I know that I can make it/as long as somebody takes me home" could be some sort of motivational nationalism, no?


3. Fergie - "London Bridge"



I suppose the "you" could mean the world's nationals, and "London Bridge wanna' fall down" could represent the friendly global conflict taking place in the square mile. Or this could just be an attempt to appeal to the tween demographic. Bonus tie-in: "Fergalicious" as intro music for London gymnastics squad right before the pole vault.


4. Warren Zevon - "Werewolves Of London"



I bet some NC State grads would have this placement locked down tight. "Bro, seriously, think of the Teen Wolf marketing tie-in. LEGENDARY." Undeniably a catchy refrain and a reference to London. Perfect. How 'Werewolves' fit the theme of the Olympics, we're not sure, (things could get hairy?) but I bet some English-bro would think this was the perfect battle cry for the English Rugby team. The English have "bros", right? Dudes from Manchester? I have no idea.


5. Fred Astaire - "A Foggy Day" (Written by George and Ira Gershwin)



An American standard, written by American musical heroes, performed by an American legend, about 'foggy Londontown' (literally), does it get any more misguided and ironic? "Set it to classic black and white Olympic videos, whatever we can find. Massive influx of hipster support, GUARANTEED."


Bonus round:

In our search, we found a few songs that were actually appropriate. Given the current political climate, the popularity of Adele, her heritage, and her awesomeness, we would have gone with this (for real):

Adele - "Hometown Glory"



Not only is the 'hometown' the UK for Adele and arbitrarily anywhere for the listener, we're talking about hometown glory here! Yes the original meaning of the song might not totally fit the bill here, but enough of it can be reinterpreted, and the glossy-eyed spots write themselves: slow-motion shots of sporting events set to fireworks and "I like it in the city when/two worlds collide". Getting chills. "Shows that we ain't gonna stand shit/shows that we are united/shows that we ain't gonna take it", "The wonders of my world". COME ON. We better get paid for this.

Inspired by a recent NPR piece documenting the repurposing of "London Calling" as a tourism jingle.

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