London Olympics Opening Ceremony Playlist: Real Musical Gold

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

The Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics had to be THE coolest in the Games' history, worth every pence of the reported £27 million it cost to produce. And much of that had to do with all the fantastic British music--although that should come as no surprise, considering that this year's Olympics extravaganza was directed by Danny Boyle, who proved long ago with Trainspotting that he has a knack for pairing amazing visuals with equally amazing soundtracks.

[PHOTOS: London 2012 Opening Ceremony]

Aside from stellar live performances by younger British acts the Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal, and Emeli Sandé, and of course U.K. national treasure Sir Paul McCartney, the ceremony offered a brilliant soundtrack--curated by Boyle and official 2012 Olympics musical directors Underworld!--that was nothing less than a crash course in four decades of British pop music. As day-glo ravers and liberty-spiked punk rockers frolicked on the field to New Order and the Sex Pistols, it was obvious that no matter how many medals England's team eventually ends up snagging this summer, Britain has already won the grand prize for Coolest Musical Output Of All Time.

[VIDEO: Emeli Sandé exclusive performance]

From '60s classic rock (the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, the Kinks, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd); to'70s glam (David Bowie, Queen); to mods and rockers (the Jam, the Specials); to old-school punk (the Sex Pistols, the Clash); to '80s new wave (Duran Duran, New Order, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, OMD, Eurythmics); to much-loved Britpop (Muse, the Verve, Blur, Oasis, Radiohead, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs); to crossover hip-hop and soul (Soul II Soul, Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah, Amy Winehouse with Mark Ronson, M.I.A., Adele); to dance music (Happy Mondays, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers)...well, Danny Boyle and Underworld's playlist delivered some real musical gold.

[Full London Olympics coverage]

Listen to 2012 Opening Ceremony musical highlights via this winning Spotify playlist--it'll get you in the proper Anglophilic/Olympian spirit, or at least inspire you to run a little faster on the treadmill during your own non-Olympian workout at the gym.

[Full guide to music at the London Olympics]