Originally, we were going to do this list as a top five. But then it became apparent that Olympic theme songs are always so incredibly awful, it becomes difficult to figure out who did the worst job. When we started compiling this, in honor of the fact that the Olympics start in London at the end of the month, we had no idea the horrors that would await. So, brace yourselves: here are five insufferable Olympic theme songs. Maybe they're the absolute worst in the world. Maybe not.
"A Chance For Heaven," Christopher Cross
We're easing you in with this one -- the theme from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics -- because it is, at the very least, hilarious. Mostly because the man singing the aspirational lyrics over the jaunty synthesized '80s extravaganza sounds like he can't even be bothered to open his mouth properly. The chorus is so stilted and weird, it sounds like someone had to poke him with a stick in the studio to get each. and. ev. ery. word. out. Oi, Cross! Wake up, dude! It's the Olympics!
When we found out Muse was doing the official theme for the London Olympics, we got a bit excited, because we assumed it would be less cheesy than the usual, "typical" theme songs. But then we heard it and realized the band had essentially just written a second theme tune to Flash Gordon. Just once -- once! -- we'd like to hear an Olympic theme that didn't immediately go to a really obvious place lyrically. Muse here beats us over the head with "winning" and "the race" and "the human race" (geddit?) and "never los[ing]." We're annoyed, Matt Bellamy. Very annoyed.
"I Believe," Nikki Yanofsky
Helpfully, the makers of this video have included the lyrics in the above clip, just so we can all fully absorb the overwhelming schmaltz that accompanied Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics. We're pretty sure the writers of "I Believe" were going for a vibe that precisely combined R Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" with Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings," while removing any and all personality from the final result. The Winter Olympics is badass! And dangerous! So, "I Believe" does us all a disservice... Particularly the people trying to not break their necks on the goddamn ice.
"Beijing Welcomes You," Various Artists
As you may recall, Beijing was not fucking around when it hosted the Olympics in 2008. From the stadium to the opening ceremony, the Chinese hosts went to town. Which is probably why they felt the need to get together (literally) 100 artists to sing the theme song. The problem with that is that finding 100 singers you want to listen to is extremely difficult. Which is why -- skip to 1:10 if you don't believe us -- you'll find Jackie Chan singing on this one. But hey, Dan Aykroyd sang on "We Are The World," so we guess it could be worse.
"Power of the Dream," Celine Dion
As we all know, when one is looking for overwrought music that is entirely middle-of-the-road and yet wholly irritating, one must look no further than Celine Dion, a.k.a. the smuggest woman on earth. In 1996, she provided the Atlanta Olympics with its theme song and performed at the opening ceremony, as you can see in the above video. You can tell it's 1996 because she's sporting the old lady version of the Friends Rachel cut. Skip to the fist-pumping moment at 3:14 and say a little prayer of thanks that this woman rarely leaves Vegas now. Phew!