The closing ceremony similarly foregrounded popular music, celebrating its position both as Britain’s most dominant contemporary cultural export and as a signifi er of a confi dent modern identity. Indeed, according to Kitty Empire, the two ceremonies together off ered “the most prominent British music showcase of 2012.”4 Eschewing narrative in favour of a “Symphony of British Music” defi ned almost entirely by popular music, the latter event began with a fi lmed countdown that presented traditional London icons (10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye), introduced actor Timothy Spall reciting Shakespeare as Winston Churchill, referenced ‘classic’ television show Only Fools and Horses, and proceeded to a series of musical performances-as-street party featuring Madness, a recording of Blur’s “Parklife,” and a gymnastics dance to the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” The central ceremony featured a performance of “Waterloo Sunset” by Ray Davies, affi rmed its central ethos with a choral performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine” (and a human sculpture of the singer’s face that released balloons into the stadium), shifted slightly uneasily into a performance by George Michael of his latest single-and from there moved

fairly consistently through a pantheon of live and recorded performances by musical icons (the Beatles, Pink Floyd, David Bowie) varying with performances by chart-topping favourites of more recent memory, from the Spice Girls through to Jessie J and Taio Cruz. As the extinguishing of the fl ame was announced, Take That performed “Rule the World” before the Who took a triumphant centre stage to conclude the event with a selection of their most classic hits.