olympic rings

The Olympics: an historic international competition that tests the power and skill of the world’s most elite athletes. Among the sporting events, it is easy to forget the impact the Olympics has on the arts as well. Every year the Opening Ceremony welcomes the world in a spectacular fashion, through moving art, dance, and of course music. Many songs have been written in honor of the games since they re-opened in 1896, some even charting on the Billboard Hot 100. Listen to some of the Olympics’ most memorable songs below. Citius, Altius, Fortius! 

Bjork – Oceania (Athens 2004)

A beautiful song from one of Iceland’s greatest musicians. The 2004 Olympics were the summer games, which oddly enough is where Iceland does the best; they have actually never earned a winter medal.

Whitney Houston – One Moment in Time (Seoul 1988)

I couldn’t have left out one of the greatest singers of our generation, the one and only Whitney Houston. Some Olympic songs can get sappy and emotional, but Whitney takes that emotion to new heights in “One Moment in Time.”

Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe – Barcelona (Barcelona 1992)

Remember the Freddie Mercury hologram that appeared onstage during the London games? Well, that was not the first time Mercury had performed at the Olympics, having done this duet with the famed opera singer Montserrat Caballe in Barcelona 20 years earlier.

Elbow – First Steps (London 2012)

English prog-rock group Elbow contributed to the London Olympic games with this track, “First Steps,” which might be the most exciting iteration of inspiration we’ve seen at any Olympic ceremony. This song is as powerful as the athletes it honors.

Kokia – Yume ga Chikara (Athens 2004)

Hearing this j-pop tune is a welcome reprieve from the overwhelming amount of inspirational ballads that typically score the Olympic games (and all those training montages).

Flipsyde – Someday (Torino 2006)

If this Flipsyde song proves anything, it’s that the Olympic committee and/or the Torino creative director tried a little too hard to pander to young people by including hip hop (or, rather, rap-rock) in the ceremony. This was Flipsyde‘s first single, guaranteeing them to be at least one-hit wonders, given that it was what some would call a hit. Perhaps it was not the best song, but “Someday” certainly was memorable.

BONUS: Belanova – Unete al Movimiento (London 2012)

Mark Ronson & Katy B wrote and performed a track called “Anywhere in the World” that became one of several popular songs used throughout the London games. An Italian pop group, Belanova, decided to give the track a Mediterranean flair, resulting in this upbeat anthem.