Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

“Sweet Dreams” was once the eeriest Olympic anthem ever

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (Screnshot: YouTube)
Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (Screnshot: YouTube)

As the world gears up for the start of the 2016 Olympics, with the opening ceremony in Rio now just days away, it is a good time to revisit the pomp and ceremony of previous Olympiads. Back in 2012, when the games were held in London, the government-owned Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) wanted something special for its coverage of the events. So, for reasons that must have seemed perfectly sound at the time, it commissioned a spooky, quasi-classical cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” the 1983 Eurhythmics smash, as interpreted by singer Hilde Marie Kjersem and The Norwegian Radio Orchestra. Incidentally, Norway finished 43rd out of 79 countries that year, with two golds, a silver, and a bronze.

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In a very broad sense, the lyrics are applicable to the games. Success at the Olympics might make for some sweet dreams indeed, and the athletes do “travel the world and the seven seas,” all of them “looking for something,” namely a gold medal. But after that, one gets to the lyrics about using and abusing, and the metaphor gets a little strained. Nevertheless, the recording itself is gorgeous and spine chilling, regardless of how appropriate it is for volleyball and shot put.

This latter day arrangement both honors and subverts the original Eurhythmics hit. Gone are Dave Stewart’s chilly but commanding keyboards, while vocalist Kjersem seems more quietly devastated and anguished than the eminently self-possessed Annie Lennox. The 1983 version of “Sweet Dreams” comes on strong, like an invading army of well-dressed, kink-loving robots. This remake sort of sneaks up on the listener, beginning with a few ominous drum beats before the strings fade in. What comes into sharp focus here is just how beautiful a song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” really is. The song has some intangible quality that keeps people coming back to it, decade after decade. And that part about holding one’s head up and moving on might make for good advice to an Olympic athlete.

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[via Laughing Squid]

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