1. One Moment In Time, 2. Barcelona, 3. Hand In Hand, 4. The Power of The Dream, 5. Someday, 6. Bang The Drum, 7. Reach, 8. Oceania, 9. You and Me, 10. Amigos Para Siempre. The Olympic Game is not just one of the greatest sports tournaments of mankind. It is also a haven for music lovers. Ever since its first year, many legendary songs and performances have taken place within the Olympic ceremonies. Their influences are, without a doubt, timeless. These ten anthems below are the most prominent examples!
- One Moment In Time
- Hand In Hand
- The Power of The Dream
- Bang The Drum
- You and Me
- Amigos Para Siempre
One Moment In Time
One Moment in Time is a nostalgic song penned by John Bettis and Albert Hammond for the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, 1988. It was later produced by the talented producer Narada Michael Walden. Arista Records released it on 27 August, 1988. The song was Houston’s third UK number one single, and it also peaked at number 5 on Billboard Hot 100.
The main chorus of One Moment In Time was influenced by the enduring presence of Elvis Presley; Hammond envisioned it being performed by him during the ceremony of the Olympics. It was included on the 1988 Summer Games Discography: One Moment in Time, which was released in connection with NBC Sports’ broadcast of the Seoul tournaments. The album, besides Whitney Houston, also included other popular artists such as The Bee Gees, The Four Tops, Taylor Dayne, Eric Carmen, and filmmaker John Williams.
One Moment In Time is an ode for believing in oneself. With such a powerful message, it is no surprise that the song still resonates with many listeners even to this day.
Artist: Whitney Houston
Album: 1988 Summer Olympics: One Moment In Time
Release year: 1988
Source: Women & Hollywood
Source: ABC News – Waltz Disney
In 1988, when the Olympic flag landed in Barcelona, an unlikely – yet interesting – musical duo was born. The famed Spanish operatic singer Montserrat Caballé joined forces with the flamboyant leader of rock band Queen – Freddie Mercury – to help commemorate the start of another Olympics. When ‘Barcelona’ was released, it was a smash hit, peaking at No. 8 on the UK Chart. And it reached its golden era at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, when the two artists performed it during the ceremony.
How did this collaboration come true? Freddie Mercury has always adored opera, and ‘Barcelona’ reflects his life-long dream of performing side by side with an opera singer and a full orchestra. In 1986, he expressed on Spanish television his desire to meet Caballé, a legend whom he had long respected. They met the next year; and when the country was selected to host the 1992 Summer Games, Caballé was charged with writing the games’ theme song.
She enlisted the assistance of her new buddy Fred Mercury. Together they made this song and the accompanying album. The rest, as they say, is history.
Artist: Freddie Mercury, Montserrat Caballé
Release year: 1987
Source: NBC News
Hand In Hand
Hand in Hand is a song by the South Korean band Koreana. It served as the official theme song for the Seoul 1988 Summer Olympics. The song was performed in both English and Korean. Giovanni Giorgio Moroder, an Italian singer, songwriter, DJ, and record producer, produced the song. Tom Whitlock wrote the English lyrics, while Kim Moon-hwan wrote the Korean lyrics.
The song peaked at the top of the charts in seventeen nations, including Hong Kong, Japan, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, the Philippines, West Germany, and Sweden. Hand in Hand has also achieved other impressive peaks: for instance, it has sold over 12 million copies around the world at the time. The song was also included in a Pingu episode, titled “Ice Hockey” (only in the original version of the film).
Album: Hand In Hand
Source: The New Republic
The Power of The Dream
The Power of the Dream is a title track by Canadian vocalist Celine Dion. It was produced and written by Babyface, Linda Thompson, and David Foster for the 1996 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Later on, the song was performed by Dion in front of over 100,000 people and three billion television viewers. Céline Dion sang the song at the 1996 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, supported by the Centennial Choir (the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Spelman College Glee Club, and Morehouse College Glee Club) and the Symphony Orchestra.
Dion donated the money she earned from the song for the occasion, in order to promote Canadian athletes.
The song reached number 30 on Japan’s Oricon Singles Chart, and also gained other immense successes in other nations. Later on, it was certified platinum (75,000 copies sold). Despite not being published in other places in the world, The Power of the Dream was played on several radio stations worldwide and even charted on various airplay lists.
Artist: Celine Dion
Album: Falling Into You
Release year: 1996
Source: Good Housekeeping
Someday is the first song from Flipsyde’s self-titled group album We the People, released in 2005. NBC picked Someday as the theme music for its 2006 Winter Olympics programming, believing that the song’s vibe will appeal to a younger audience. While the track did not perform well in the US chart, the attention from Olympic viewers resulted in a rise in record sales. Due to their new popularity, the band Flipsyde was also invited to make an appearance in the 2006 Winter Season.
Two MVs were created for Someday: one for NBC starring ice skaters Apolo Anton Ohno and Michelle Kwan, and the other was the official video. Furthermore, the music was later used during the 2008 movie Never Back Down.
In 2016, Patrick Ryan (from USA Today) lauded the record as one of the “greatest Olympic theme songs” due to its “unique fusion of rapping and Spanish guitar.” According to Troy Farah (from the Phoenix New Times), it was “an obvious effort by NBC to get the new generation interested in the Olympics”. On the contrary, Travis Jones (from The Sydney Morning Herald), on the other hand, condemned the song due to its lyrical substance, which he believed had no relevance to Olympics.
Album: We The People
Source: Youtube, Rnb-station
Bang The Drum
Bang the Drum by Nelly Furtado and Bryan Adams is ranked sixth on the list of the greatest Olympic anthem songs of all time.
Nelly Furtado is a famous songwriter and singer from Canada. She was born on December 2, 1978, to Portuguese parents. She established herself as a worldwide famous performer after the critical and financial success of her first solo album, Whoa, Nelly! Meanwhile, Bryan Adams is a renowned Canadian singer, songwriter, composer, lyricist, guitarist, photographer, philanthropist, and animal rights activist. He was nominated for a Grammy in 1991, a Golden Globe in 2007, and a Juno in 2008.
When you first listen to Bang The Drum, you may wonder why it was chosen as the Olympic hymn. After all, childish lyrics such as “From the East/From the West/Each of us is doing our best” are hardly literary masterpieces. And yet, the song’s energetic nature – complete with a zippy drum solo and a very corny chorus about dreaming big – has helped it stick out. This 2010 Olympics track provided a nice diversion from other more solemn options for the Olympic music list.
Artist: Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado
Album: Sounds of Vancouver 2010
Release year: 2010
Reach is a 1996 single written and performed by Gloria Estefan, a Cuban-American singer and composer. Estefan and Diane Warren co-wrote the song, which served as one of two main anthems for the Summer Olympics in 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia. In Spain, Norway, Hungary and the Czech Republic, the song charted inside the Top 10. It also peaked at 15 in the United Kingdom. Later on, in June 1996, Reach peaked at #47 on the Hot 100 chart of the Eurochart.
The song also achieved popularity outside Europe. For instance, it reached number 22 in Australia and 42 in the United States on the Hot 100 list. At the 1997 Grammy Awards, it was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance.
Reach was widely regarded as Estefan’s most forward-thinking masterpiece to date. Most music reviewers praised the tune. According to the Scottish publication Aberdeen Press & Journal, Estefan “retains an exquisite voice.” Another editor, Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic, commented that Reach ranks with Higher and “I’m Not Giving You Up” on the album’s best work list. Jon O’Brien added that the song is “her greatest moment, a rousing power ballad replete with choir and tribal percussion.”
Artist: Gloria Estefan
Source: Latino USA
On 13 August 2004, One Little Indian Records released Oceania as a promotional single. The song, which is backed by a choir, was written from the ocean’s perspective – from where the singer thinks all life originated. To Bjork, the ocean propels humankind development. Oceania’ garnered generally positive reviews from music fans, who deemed it to be Medlla’s finest single. However others argued that this was not the ideal option for a commercial release.
Most music experts also praised Oceania. MTV News’ Jennifer Vineyard described the song as “one of those mesmerizing tunes, with its Ethel Merman-styled synced vocal sweeps that definitely evoke the aquatic vibe, in a 1950s style.” Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly described the song as “strikingly lovely.”
Release year: 2004
You and Me
You and Me is the title track for the 2008 Summer’s Olympics in China, which was sung by Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan at the opening ceremony. Zhang Yimou, manager of the opening session, picked the British singer to represent London, the country’s capital and the 2012 Olympic host city. This decision was in line with the game’s concept of “One World, One Dream,” which symbolizes people’s unity that goes beyond language, race, and religion divides.
Chen Qigang, a Shanghai-born French-Chinese composer, wrote the original version of this song. It runs for four minutes and ten seconds. You and Me’s music video showcases a variety of people throughout the globe, their names written in both Chinese and English. Upon its release, it immediately became a success. Critics considered it a beautiful piece that stood in stark contrast to the sparkling and ostentatious opening ceremony. The song is a gem on the list of the finest Olympic theme tunes.
The impact of the song was so great, that it still lasts decades later. In 2022, You and Me was once again featured at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, to highlight Beijing’s dual role as both a Winter and Summer Olympic host destination.
Artist: Liu Huan, Sarah Brightman
Release year: 2008
Amigos Para Siempre
Amigos Para Siempre (or Friends for Life, also known in Catalan as “Amics per sempre”) is a song created for the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, 1992. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the beat, and Don Black was in charge of the lyrics. Don Black’s lyrics were entirely in English, with the exception of the title. The name was later translated to English, Spanish, and Catalan.
Sarah Brightman, a British soprano, and José Carreras, a Spanish tenor, sang the song throughout the Barcelona Olympic closing ceremony in 1992. The song was also released internationally in conjunction with the Olympics. Its success was predictable. It rose to number 12 on the UK Chart and spent six weeks at the number one spot in Australia.
Amigos Para Siempre was one of the event’s two major themes. The second one, simply named “Barcelona”, was performed by Montserrat Caballe and Freddie Mercury and peaked at number two in the United Kingdom (it also ranked number 2 on this list). Both themes were featured on the Barcelona Gold compilation CD, which was issued in the same time as the Games.
Artist: José Carreras, Sarah Brightman
Release year: 1992
Source: Warner Classics