Unless you’ve been living in an underground bunker for quite a while (which is fine if that’s what you’re into; not so fine if you’re being held captive down there), you’ll know that the 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off the weekend before last, in Rio de Janeiro. I’m not ashamed to admit that I la la love the Olympics, and have done for as long as I can remember – and I think part of that has to do with the parallels one can draw between the Games and Eurovision, if one can be bothered.
I won’t ramble on about all the similarities right now, but you can imagine the kind of stuff I’m referring to: different countries competing against each other in a way that’s friendly enough, but definitely involves tension and prayers that someone else will be the loser…more flags than you can poke a flagpole at…et cetera. On top of that, there are plenty of Eurovision entries, past and present, that remind me of the Olympics á la Chariots of Fire. Songs that pump me up and inspire me to do the impossible by getting myself moving when I feel like doing the opposite.
Because I’m awesome, and because I never let the Olympics slip by without celebrating them here on EBJ*, I’ve gathered together the very songs I’m talking about in one place for your listening pleasure. From dance bangers through to slightly cheesy ballads, here are the tracks of recent contest history that are as perfect for backing ‘moment of triumph’ montages this Olympiad as they were for the Eurovision stage.
Oh, BTW – I may have thrown some NF songs from the 2016 season into this mix too. As Rihanna would say, they just workworkworkworkwork.
* I bet you thought I was going to, since we’re over halfway through this Olympics. There’s a slight chance this post was supposed to go live before the opening ceremony, but didn’t because reasons. You know what I’m like.
Say Yay! by Barei (Spain 2016)
If you wouldn’t say yay when you’ve just won an Olympic medal, then when would you? In between shoe-shuffling and faux-falling, Barei references the stuff that this sporting spectacle is made of – climbing over hills, following your dreams, and doing lots of running. Basically, this is the anthem for hurdlers everywhere.
Sound of Our Hearts by Compact Disco (Hungary 2012)
Invincible by Carola (Sweden 2006)
To The Sky by Tijana (FYR Macedonia 2014)
Be My Guest by Gaitana (Ukraine 2012)
What Eurovision does on a musical level, the Olympics do on a sporting level: bring people from all over the planet together, making us all (in theory) discard our differences while cattily criticising what the participants are wearing. It’s a beautiful thing, and Ukraine’s four-year-old ESC entry encapsulates that very well.
Molitva by Maria Serifović (Serbia 2007)
Rise Up by Freaky Fortune & RiskyKidd (Greece 2014)
Gravity by Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013)
Victorious by Xuso Jones (Spain NF 2016)
I’ll be honest: this was the song that convinced me to include a few national finalists in this playlist, rather than Eurovision entries exclusively. Up-tempo and centred around triumphing over adversity, it totally deserves to be an honorary Olympic anthem.
Butterflies by 3+2 (Belarus 2010)
Amazing by Tanja (Estonia 2014)
Pioneer by Freddie (Hungary 2016)
Na Inat by Poli Genova (Bulgaria 2011)
Believe by Dima Bilan (Russia 2008)
As sugary as it is, a ballad about believing that you can do heaps of difficult shit without giving up (or something similarly poignant) is Olympic gold. If that’s not reason enough for you to pop Dima in your own playlist, remember that Russia’s winning performance in Belgrade featured the multiple medal-nabbing figure skater Evgeni Plushenko. Surely that’s a sign?
Miracle by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2014)
A Million Voices by Polina Gagarina (Russia 2015)
Deli by Mor ve Ötesi (Turkey 2008)
Keine Grenzen by Ich Troje (Poland 2003)
I’ve Been Waiting For This Night by Donny Montell (Lithuania 2016)
Any momentous event, musical or sporting (or getting out of bed on a particularly cold winter’s morning), tends to be the culmination of a heap of hard work for the people involved. I think Donny Montell totally understands that, even if he was referring to hooking up with someone he’s had the hots for since forever *pretends he’s not married for three minutes*. For a thousand years, through a million tears, etc…just like the path leading to a synchronised swimming podium placement. Obviously.
Jas Ja Imam Silata by Gjoko Taneski (FYR Macedonia 2010)
Playing With Fire by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010)
Warrior by Amber (Malta 2015)
Falling Stars by Lidia Isac (Moldova 2016)
It may not have had the steam to make it out of its semi final, but Falling Stars has the energy and up-tempo goods to get anyone remotely Olympically-inclined pumped up for competition. That’s as long as you can ignore Lidia’s half-hearted “money note”, which is worth about two Euros, and was partially responsible for her downfall.
Verjamem by Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012)
Higher by NuAngels (Ukraine NF 2016)
You’re Not Alone by Joe & Jake (United Kingdom 2016)
Euphoria by Loreen (Sweden 2012)
Come on…do I really need to explain this one? I know I feel like I could successfully complete a decathlon whenever I listen to Loreen’s winning entry (although I’m more likely to be found eating a donut, tbh).
Help You Fly by IVAN (Belarus 2016)
Cvet z Juga by Alenka Gotar (Slovenia 2007)
Dziesma Par Laimi by Fomins & Kleins (Latvia 2004)
Glorious by Cascada (Germany 2013)
Cool Me Down by Margaret (Poland NF 2016)
It’s going to be a while before hardcore, NF-following ESC fans stop mentioning Margaret, even though Poland proved anti-Michał peeps wrong by smashing Eurovision 2016 without her. So why not bring her up in this conversation? After all, I can confirm that many of the athletes competing in Brazil are hotter than fire, and that nothing could cool them down.
Unbreakable by Sinplus (Switzerland 2012)
Walk On Water by Ira Losco (Malta 2016)
We Are The Heroes by Litesound (Belarus 2012)
Dime by Beth (Spain 2003)
Based on how psyched the Spanish team were during the opening ceremony’s parade of nations, I don’t think they need one of their fellow countrywomen to pump them up. But the rest of the world could use a little Latin flavour courtesy of Beth – it’s perfect for getting us in the mood given that the Rio games are the first to be held in South America. Olé!
Time To Shine by Melanie Réne (Switzerland 2015)
Sunlight by Nicky Byrne (Ireland 2016)
I Can by Blue (2011)
Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015)
I bet you thought I’d left the most obvious song of all out of the running (pun intended). As if! Last year’s winner is so suited to becoming an Olympic anthem, I’d bet my not-completely-pathetic bank balance on Sweden having used it to back their coverage at least ten times already. MZW performed Heroes at the Australian Open earlier this year, so we already know it works in a sporting context. Put on some Lycra and blast it as loud as possible, and I can guarantee you’ll be feeling like an Olympian (if not an idiot) in no time.
And voila! That’s my personal soundtrack of the 2016 Olympics, Eurovision-style (my favourite style). Because I’m down with the kids, y’all, I could have put together a convenient Spotify playlist to insert here at the end of this post…but due to a technical error, you’re getting a good old-fashioned YouTube playlist instead. That’s better than nothing, right?
What do you think of this collection of tracks? Would you be happy to sprint for the finish line (possibly in slow-mo) to these tunes, or do you have a playlist of your own that makes you feel like an elite athlete…or just less like a couch potato? Let me know below.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to feasting my eyes on anything and everything Rio has to offer. If it involves countries competing against each other while flags obscure the majority of camera shots, then I’m on board!
I hope you enjoy the rest of the Olympics. Remember, they’re just like Eurovision, only sweatier. Or, in Sergey Lazarev’s case, just like Eurovision.