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Watch: The gorgeous song not shown in NBC's Olympics coverage

July 30, 2012|By Todd Martens
  • Emeli Sande at the Olympics.
Emeli Sande at the Olympics. (Laurence Griffiths / Getty…)

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. 

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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. 

"I was really shocked and horrified and would like to know on what grounds the American media can make that decision," he said at a press conference.

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Over the weekend, NBC released a statement explaining that editing decisions such as this are common when dealing with international broadcasts. "Our programming is tailored for the U.S. audience," a network publicist told USA Today.

Pop & Hiss earlier raved about Sandé's performance. With minimal music accompaniment, Sandé managed to be graceful and stern, seemingly alternating verses with moments of silence.

Her record label, Capitol Records, was caught by surprise by NBC's omission. The company sent out a press release hours before the opening ceremony urging American viewers to tune in to the broadcast, and a spokeswoman later confirmed that Capitol had no idea the scene wouldn't be shown in the U.S.

Sadly, an unedited and embeddable video of the performances is not that easy to come by. Here is a clip that was shot live from inside the stadium:

For a look simply at Sandé, here is a clip of her performing "Abide With Me" in Los Angeles:


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