Music was in many ways the star of Danny Boyle's opening ceremony to the London Olympics. A theatrical take on the Industrial Revolution was staged to a propulsive, rhythmic score; athletes paraded into the stadium to a track by the Chemical Brothers; and the centerpiece of the ceremony was an extended tribute to British music of the last four decades.
Yet NBC's broadcast of Friday's opening ceremony wasn't entirely in tune with Boyle's mission to showcase U.K. music. One of the lovelier, more subdued performances during the Olympics celebration was axed for American audiences. Instead of an introduction to Scotland singer Emeli Sandé, U.S. viewers were instead treated to a taped segment featuring Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps.
Sandé, a neuroscientist student turned musician who brings a touch of social commentary into her dance pop anthems, performed the traditional hymn "Abide With Me" just before the Parade of Nations, bringing a moment of reflection to the otherwise high-energy opening ceremonies. Her song was accompanied by a graceful dance from British choreographer Akram Khan.
Online, the axing of the segment caused a bit of an uproar, as Khan's themes of life and mortality were interpreted by many as a tribute to people who died in the London terrorist attacks of 2005, although the number was not officially billed as such. Nevertheless, Khan wasn't pleased at NBC's decision.