The Who, Spice Girls to rock Olympic closer
In this Friday, July 27, 2012 photo fireworks explode during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London. The International Olympic Committee expects that almost 900 million people watched part of the London Games opening ceremony on television. The IOC's television and marketing director Timo Lumme says it is the target figure for "global viewership ... that's all eyeballs across the world." The final, official rating will be lower than 900 million. It counts in-home viewers watching for longer periods and will be announced within months. Lumme says around 80 of 200 national television markets have audited figures. Others are estimated. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
LONDON (AP) — Get ready for a star-studded spectacular: Olympic Stadium is being transformed into a giant jukebox of British pop and pizazz for the closing ceremonies of the London Games.
The Spice Girls and The Who are among the acts prepping performances to celebrate the end of the Olympics. Although organizers have tried to the ceremony under wraps, many details have leaked out in the British media — and some of the performers have let the cat out of the bag themselves.
Director David Arnold is calling the production "the greatest after-party in the world."
"If the opening ceremony was the wedding, then we're the wedding reception," Arnold told the Daily Telegraph.
The Who, George Michael, Muse and Ed Sheeran have all said they will take part in a show that will include performances of 30 British hit singles from the past five decades. The Pet Shop Boys, Annie Lennox and Fatboy Slim will also be on hand to get people dancing.
Tips and photos have emerged from the rehearsal venue, an old car plant in east London.
The Spice Girls were photographed dancing atop black London taxis, so a rendition of their biggest hit, "Wannabe," seems possible.
So does an appearance by surviving members of Queen, whose "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" have been ever-present at the games.
And Ray Davies of The Kinks is tipped to perform his majestic London ballad "Waterloo Sunset."
Paul McCartney has already performed at the opening ceremony, but it's inconceivable that there won't be a bit of Beatles music in a tribute to the best of British pop.
And organizers will want to include younger acts such as Tinie Tempah, Jessie J, Emeli Sande and the Kaiser Chiefs.
Organizers have said they want the ceremony to be a "cheeky" reflection of modern Britain, so expect touches of Monty Pythonesque humor — perhaps even Python Eric Idle leading a mass rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."
The Daily Mail newspaper published photographs of what it said was the set, involving reconstructions of London landmarks such as St. Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge.
The show won't be short on spectacle. Director Kim Gavin has overseen tours for the band Take That and directed London's 2007 Princess Diana memorial concert. Designer Es Devlin has created sets for everyone from Lady Gaga to the Royal Opera.
As with director Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, London is aiming for a plucky, irreverent tone far removed from Beijing's 2008 Olympic closer, which was heavy on precision displays of fireworks, acrobatics and dancing.
"It's not anything desperately profound," London games chief Sebastian Coe said. "It's not the opening ceremony but I think it will be great. It's basically a tribute to British music over the last few decades. It's fun."
There will also be an 8-minute section of song and dance created by the next Summer Games host country, Brazil. Expect samba, colorful costumes and some 300 performers, including supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.
And of course there will be ceremonial elements, including an athletes' march, the raising of the flags of Greece — birthplace of the Olympics— current host Britain and 2016 games host Brazil, speeches and the extinguishing of the Olympic cauldron, marking the handover of the games to Rio.