6 Memorable Moments in Olympics Entertainment History

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Pete Souza

Hey Hollywooders! In honor of the 2021 Summer Olympics kicking off in Tokyo, we’re taking a look at the best entertainment moments in Olympics History. From the Spice Girls to Lionel Richie, let’s dive into the performances that dazzled the world at the Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies!


 
 
 
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Céline Dion sang the 1996 Olympics theme

At the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, world-renowned singer Céline Dion performed her song “The Power of the Dream.” The song, written by David Foster, Linda Thompson, and Babyface, was the official song of the Centennial Olympic Games.

Céline Dion gave a beautiful performance with strong, stunning vocals and was backed by the Centennial Choir. Composer and conductor played the piano alongside the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

During the performance, the Olympic flame can be seen flickering, eliciting an enormous sense of pride. As Céline Dion sang, audience members swayed and waved their flags and banners while uniting with each other.

In a 2016 article, USA Today ranked “The Power of the Dream” no. 2 on their list of best Olympics theme songs.

Stevie Wonder gave a heartfelt performance of “Imagine”

Also at the 1996 Summer Olympics, legendary singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder performed a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” During the closing ceremony, Steve Wonder played the piano and sang the track while accompanied by a choir and other musicians.

The performance at Centennial Olympic Park paid tribute to a tragic event that had taken place earlier during the Atlanta Olympics. On July 27, there was a bombing at the stadium, which left 111 people injured and killed 2.

According to Bleacher Report, Stevie Wonder’s performance of “Imagine” followed a moment of silence for those affected by the bombing. The performance gave the audiences and viewers a glimmer of hope in the midst of such dark circumstances.

Audience members swayed to Stevie Wonder’s earnest version of the song while holding their flags high in an emotional moment of remembrance.

The Spice Girls reunited at 2012 Olympics

At the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony, Spice Girls fans around the world rejoiced as the girl group came together for a performance of their top hits. This marked their first performance together in years! What better place for the British pop sensations to join forces again than London?

In an Instagram post where Victoria Beckham (“Posh Spice”) shared a photo and video from the performance, she wrote “One of the proudest Spice Girls moments, closing the London 2012 Olympics.”


 
 
 
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On a stage shaped like the UK flag, Each of the Spice Girls arrived in a technicolor taxi. They began with a performance of “Wannabe” that had the whole crowd cheering. They then transitioned into their iconic song “Spice Up Your Life,” while singing on top of taxis that traveled around the stage. The performance ended with the five taxi’s lined up on stage and pyrotechnics ending the stellar performance.

Paul McCartney sang “Hey Jude” in London

Paul McCartney closed out the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony with a performance of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Paul McCartney played the piano during the seven-minute-long performance as the Olympic flame burned.

The performance in London had the audience singing along while waving their arms back and forth. At one point, Paul McCartney got up from the piano and led the crowd in singing the “Na Na Na’s” of the song. By the end of the song, attendees were holding hands with one another relishing in the special moment that kicked off the Summer Olympics.

Overall, Paul McCartney gave a youthful performance, despite being 70 years old at the time. What makes this performance interesting is that Paul McCartney was only paid 1 pound ($1.57) for his services, as reported by Rolling Stone

John Williams composed and performed the 1984 Olympics theme

Notable film composer John Williams (Star Wars, Jaws, E.T.) wrote the “Olympics Fanfare and Theme” for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He performed the composition at the opening ceremony, which was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. As he played the theme marchers entered the stadium carrying white Olympic flags.

John Williams also wrote “Summon the Heroes” for the 1996 Olympics and conducted a performance of it in Atlanta.

One Direction gave a hometown performance at the 2012 Olympics

At the 2012 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony in London, British boy group One Direction performed their hit single “What Makes You Beautiful.” The five boys rode a parade float onto the UK flag-shaped stage. This performance took place during the band’s meteoric rise to fame, creating much hype among fans.

The group kept the crowd singing along while riding around the stage set up like a fair. When the vehicle stopped, the boys hopped off and jumped around the stage before leading the audience in a clap-along. The performance concluded with a group of drummers lending percussion using sticks and trash cans.

Do you have a favorite Olympics performance that we missed? Let us know over on our Instagram!

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