Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wardrobe And Other Malfunctions

Despite the slight malfunction at the torch lighting, I thought the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics was rather nice. My favorite part was where the ice broke up into ice floes and the whales swam through them. How on earth did they do that? And of course, it was lovely to hear Joni Mitchell in her new incarnation singing "Both Sides Now" in her slower, more mellow voice. At first I didn't recognize her. Like fine wine, her voice has actually improved with age. On the other hand, I could have done with a bit less speechifying by the Olympic officials. Just as things were beginning to build to a crescendo, they stepped in an threw cold water on the whole event. But ... I guess it's necessary.

There were the usual Canadian clich├ęs, of course, but seen from a different viewpoint, they were actually very interesting. Canada is made up of a population of great diversities from east to west, and it was nice to see them all represented. I have always loved First Nations art, music and culture, and I would have liked to have seen a bit more of their dancing. It's quite beautiful and unique. The spirit of the First Nations is inextricably woven into the West Coast culture.

I do have one criticism, however. What on earth is happening to the national anthem -- not only Canada's but America's as well. "Oh Canada" is a beautiful anthem, as is "The Star Spangled Banner". They are not meant to be warbled, or sung as if the singer is on stage in some jazz club. They are meant to be belted out in a clear strong, steady voice. Enough with the artificial trills and quavers. Those are gimmicks used by people who cannot otherwise hold a note. Nikki Yanofsky sang "Oh Canada" last night, and I was embarrassed. I felt the same way when I heard Carrie Underwood butcher sing the American national anthem at the Super Bowl. Why can't the organizers of these events find singers who can actually sing, and who can deliver these beautiful anthems the way they are meant to be delivered? Was the incredible Canadian tenor, Ben Heppner, not available? On the whole, though, I liked the opening ceremonies very much.

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone. I'm off to participate in some of the free events. I'll take pictures.



Jennifer D said...

I really enjoyed the ceremony but I agree with you on the Anthems. I was not impressed by her preformance. The natives were amazing. Hope you enjoy your day.

TomCat said...

I was so tired that I fell asleep soon after the parade of nations, but what I did see was masterfully done.

Not it's time for the US to pull together and defeat the evil empire (The Canadian Hockey Team). ;-)

Lindy said...

I did not see the opening ceremonies, but I did see the Superbowl. Carrie Underwood did not bother me so much as all the people standing with their hands on their hearts during "America the Beautiful" (a wonderful song, but NOT our national anthem). Then there were all the people who did NOT put their hand on their heart for the "Star Spangled Banner".

houndstooth said...

Sadly, I missed a lot of the opening ceremonies this time due to a family emergency, but the last hour and a half that I saw were beautiful! I loved the poem! I also felt really bad that part of the torch didn't work. That must have been really upsetting for the people who planned it all this time, although I still thought it was beautiful!

PinkPanthress said...

I was so happy when I saw the Natives on the big Drum between those Totem Poles, which by the way were beautiful, too.
And when they did their Dance, whirling around in their tribal Clothes with all those colourful Feathers, I was so mesmerised!!!

Oh my, I was shocked when that Girl sang Canada's Anthem, what the hell was that??? :/ I was not amused!

Btw, if I'm not mistanken they could'have used Digital Techniques for the Whales. You know, the snowy Ground could have been used as a Projection Screen. And if you put there little Fountains in the Ground placed with Controls you can shoot Water in the Air with a Button in a Control-Room when the Whales are on the right Position... ;)
Or maybe Holographic Techniques for all the Star Trek fans out there...

Susan said...
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Susan said...

computer glitch - pardon if part of this posts twice.
Anyway, I cannot BELIEVE I missed Joni. Now I have to go find it.
But I must tell you that I sat with my guy through the whole thing going, "Aw, dammit, Kevin, they're cooler than us. Look - First Nations! Listen - two languages! They're not afraid to be diverse."
And you've got fewer people than the state of California? Really?
You must be worried - if people get too good an impression of Canada, it's going to get crowded.

Teri said...
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Teri said...

I think the opening ceremony was smashing!! I know my jaw dropped several times! The whales were incredible and then the way they turned to salmon, then on to the totems. Wow. I loved the fiddle players. The poet was quite interesting. It was wonderful to see the First Nation leaders in the VIP box. Loved seeing Gretsky again - such a class act.

The only thing that bothered me was the abrupt end of the moment of silence for the young Georgian man. You could see the people in the stands jump at the sudden barrage of sound.

But overall it was wonderful!

Bravo Vancouver!!!!

Arley said...

Hi Jo, as a person who has never really heard "Oh Canada" I was unable to understand a word that girl was singing. Not to sound critical, but until they brought out the beautiful red leaves and the step dancers, I was not all that impressed. Bored actually. I was unable to stay awake for the entire event, so I missed the "malfunction". I look forward to all the events!!!

The Bug said...

I really enjoyed the ceremony too! I did wonder about the anthem - although I actually enjoyed how she was singing it by the end... Like Susan, Dr. M & I were discussing how much cooler Canada is than the US...

I did like the poem a lot too, but no one has mentioned my very favorite part - KD Lang singing Hallelujah - FABULOUS! Sigh...

A human kind of human said...

I messing up national anthems no the latest craze. A while ago at a national sporting event they had a rusta singing our national anthem. It was so badly sung, and such a shock to everybody, that even the team members stood there with their mouths hanging open and not singing with. There was such an outcry in the media about this that I hope it will not happen again soon. The rusta's excuse: "The sound equipment was not up to standard!!" Oh for heaven's sake!

Mclndesm said...

I thought it was beautiful and somewhat subdued (not in a good way). I really enjoyed the techtronics and music and movement. Ethereal. The only constant that I found strange was the very subdued audience responses or was it an issue with the audio. I heard what I assummed to be clapping but wasn't sure. This is all coming from a fairly reserved American except when it comes to events with patriotic pride involved and then I am bursting with pride and quite vocal about it.

Meggie said...

I see the sad news of the death, of the luger. Condolences to all.


When I heard that terrible rendition of your country's anthem, I thought of you immediately.

I could see you 'cringe' as I did - something is really wrong when they butcher any country's national anthem (including ours).

VioletSky said...

The special effects were truly spectacular. And those dancers in white - that was a long time to have to keep moving to a non beat!
Shame about the national anthem - I quite like Nikki Yanofsky and wonder who put her up to that awful rendering(I doubt she had much say in that decision).

Enjoy the free events - and do let us at the other end of the contry know what we are missing!

Michelle said...

I like it when the anthems bring a tear to my eyes. That's when you know they were done right! You are right. They should have used a more powerful voice in both instances. I loved the ice break up and whales. That was so amazing!!!

Have fun!

Pauline said...

It was a wonderful presentation! I fell asleep before it was finished but oh! the special effects were marvelous! I agree on the singing of the anthem - belt it out and hold those long notes steady.

I am ready to come to Canada and hunt up my relatives! Kept thinking lucky Jo as I watched!

kenju said...

I agree with you about the singing, and I don't understand it. Our news station is replaying Yanofsky's singing as I type this. She sure is a pretty little thing.

I fell asleep during part of the ceremonies, but I definitely agree about the guys talking on and on. It put a damper on the opening - and it lost momentum. The part where the seas of ice broke up was masterful!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the opening ceremonies!! Most of it was beautifully done. And I loved watching the athletes from all the different countries marching in. All those wonderful, young smiling, shining faces! But yes, I have heard much better versions of "Oh Canada." For me, the highlight of the show was k.d. lang!!! Gave me goosebumps! She is my favorite singer.

TC said...

Have a great time.
I agree completely about the anthems.
In fact I could go into a whole diatribe about the younger country singers but .....

myletterstoemily said...

i didnt know that was joni mitchell. it was

Russell said...

My favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies was hearing Joni Mitchell sing her mature version of Both Sides Now.

Incredibly beautiful. Better than the original.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Well, the Star Spangled Banner has been massacred repeatedly over the years. Roseanne Barr sang it at a World Series game while holding her crotch and spitting, and Mariah Carey butchered it as well. Stevie Ray Vaughan screwed the pooch and confessed to Mickey Mantle that he didn't know how to play it, and Michael Bolton wrote the lyrics on his hand like Sarah Palin and still didn't get them right.

The luge death set a bad tone for these Olympic games. It will be difficult to come back from that, I think, but I hope I'm wrong.

Katy said...

I think it was the prettiest opening ceremony I have ever seen. I loved the whole snow effect and the color of the costumes from the first nation's dancers.

The only thing I could have done without was the commentary from Bob Costas and the other NBC announcers who had to talk over everything. If they were going to talk while the athletes were coming in I wish they would have offered more historical facts about each country and not just the medal counts. Who really cares how many medals each country has won?

Brenda said...

I missed it all! Dang! I hope I can see highlights on the internet or somewhere. My son and husband are such sports nuts....and one of my husband's pet peeves is when the National Anthem is butchered. It really drives him crazy.

Susan said...

I really enjoyed the whole thing. I thought Oh Canada was sung very artisticly,and I feel bad for the yooung singer who will be hearing all this critisism. Anthems arent meant for "performing". Anthems are for the crowd to participate in and are best sung simply and proudly. I am always so proud to see how patrioticly Vancouverites sing Oh Canada at Canuck games.In this instance, it was rather difficult for most people to sing along. Where I was, at the Live City Yale town people stuggled to sing along but soon gave up.
Other than that I think it was a super ceremony, one of the best I have ever seen.

A Woman said...

Bravo Canada! I watched the opening ceremony. I loved the First Nations, the ice flows and whales. The fiddlers were great. The ceremony was wonderful, Canadians have much to be proud of. Of course there will now be an influx of Americans ;)

Canarybird said...

I enjoyed it immensely even though the starting time was at 2 am over here. No way was I going to miss that ceremony and I was so pleased with the whole event, and so glad to see it done in such a tasteful manner.

It seems that in recent years national anthems have been sung by soloists in such a manner that the audience can't join in, which we always used to do at opening ceremonies. However I think 16 year old Nikki did a good job of the version she was chosen to sing.

Nelly Furtado's dress looked a little too tight and it's too bad about the 4th pillar not coming out of the floor for the flame lighting ceremony. But I loved the whole show, especially hearing Joni Mitchell and K.D. Lang. Very well done!

Land of shimp said...

I liked the opening ceremonies. I thought they were a lot more in line with the Games. I've heard a lot of people talk about Beijing and their opening ceremonies, but those were so over-the-top, they actually made me a little uncomfortable.

These were closer to being about the Olympics, and about the Host country.

That version of Both Sides Now is also used in the movie Love Actually (the scene where Emma Thompson cries).

I did have to laugh at how long those poor dancers had to jump, scoot, boogie. Not just the First Nation, but the greeting dancers? Most of them, understandably, just sort of gently shuffled back and forth while cheering as the nations filed by.

But there was one guy, and you all likely noticed him too, who just threw himself into it. That guy would periodically pause and do the shuffle thing for about 90 seconds, presumably so that he would collapse, then he'd throw himself back into it with incredible fervor.

I kind of love that guy now.

Crowd of dancers *shuffles a bit, gestures, cheers, tries not to overheat*: "Woooo! Italy! Italy is here, wooooo!"

Most energetic dancer of all: "Wooo! Italy is here! Welcome Italy, woooooo!"

Meanwhile he's reenacting George Michael's dance from Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go only with even more pep. It was marvelous.

I'm sure that guy lost seventeen pounds of fluid weight, but he was so much fun to watch.

Marguerite said...

Looks and sounds so exciting! Have a wonderful time and a Happy Valentine's Day!

Jo said...

♦ Jennifer, I loved the native dancing too.

♦ Tom, nice try. :-)

♦ Lindy, I was curious as to why they sang both songs.

♦ Houndstooth, gosh, I hope everything is okay in your family. And, yes, I loved the poem too.

♦ Pink Panthress, I don't know how they did they whales, but weren't they magnificent?

♦ Susan, heh, heh. That's what one of my colleagues said too. Now everyone is going to want to come here!

♦ Teri, yes, I could have used more of the Aboriginal dancing. I absolutely love it.

♦ Arley, oh, gosh, I'm sorry you were bored. I thought the special effects were wonderful...!

Jo said...

♦ Bug, Canada cooler? Oh, good grief. *heh*

♦ Anna, yes, it seems to be a trend nowadays. Are people ashamed of their national anthems? Heavens!

♦ McIndesm, it could be that Canadians are a bit more reserved, or perhaps it was subdued due to the young fellow's unfortunate accident. Hard to say...

♦ Meggie, yes, it was too sad for words.

♦ Diane, oh, yes I cringed. Big time. Arrggghhh... *heh*

♦ Violetsky, I had never heard of that young singer before, and I felt she was in over her head. It's too bad.

♦ Michelle, the whales just blew me away (no pun intended...) :-)

♦ Pauline, you MUST come to Vancouver sometime. You will be amazed at how beautiful it is.

Jo said...

♦ Kenju, yes, John Furlong is definitely NOT "Mr. Personality" *sigh*

♦ Carla, oh, yes, I LOVE kd lang. Isn't she wonderful?

♦ TC, what has happened to music? Gosh, I sound like an old fogey, but singing should SOUND like singing... *sigh*

♦ My...Emily, yes that was Joni Mitchell. She sounds fabulous now, doesn't she?

♦ Russell, I didn't know that was her, and her voice is so beautiful now.

♦ Susan, yes, I feel so bad for his family too. He was only 21, and such a pleasant-looking young man.

♦ Katy, yes, if the commentators had not said anything, the world would not have known about the fourth pillar... *sigh*

Jo said...

♦ Brenda, I hope they play it again so you can see it.

♦ Susan, yes, anthems are meant to be belted out, and for everyone to sing along. It was a rather nice ceremony otherwise, wasn't it?

♦ A Woman, *chuckle* Everyone here is saying the same thing. The rest of the world will want to live here. :-)

♦ Sharon, yes, I guess there will be the odd "glitch" occasionally. I was not impressed with Nellie's dress either, or even her performance. But I LOVED kd lang. She's wonderful.

♦ Alane, gosh, you and I think alike. :-) I was thinking the same thing about those dancers, and that one in particular. I was watching with Russell, and I said to him, "Those dancers are all going to go home 10 lbs. lighter after all that bouncing around for so long...!"

♦ Marguerite, Happy Valentine's Day to you too. It is also Chinese New Years, so Gung Hay Fat Choy...!

Arley said...

Jo- I was only bored with the first dancers and the marching in of all the Countries. Once that was all done, it was BEAUTIFUL!!!

Jo said...

Arley, I'm glad you were finally able to enjoy it. I thought it was wonnnnnnnderful -- especially the whales...!

Mia said...

I didn't see any of it but do you think Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey can't hold a note?

Goldenrod said...

Hi, Jo!

I have been following your blog for some time now, but your comments on the Olympics from a Canadian perspective have been of particular interest to me. In fact, I forwarded this one to my daughter. (We watched the opening ceremonies together yesterday - on tape - from her home in Katy.)

I thought they were wonderful. Whomever did all the work on the visual effects certainly earned their money!

I agree that the speeches - at one point, in particular - did, indeed, interfere, with the momentum of the proceedings. (And I HATED it when the French was not translated in that one part. My daughter told me that translations appeared on a board above the speakers, but they were not visible on the replay.)

The only other disagreeable - for us a real "yawner" - part of the opening ceremonies was the opera singer. We both thought and said aloud, more than just a few times, "Will this EVER end?"

Am looking forward to reading more of your posts, in particular those that write about and show the Olympics from a Canadian perspective.

Btw, imo the best Star Spangled Banner ever performed at a large public event was that of Whitney Houston at a Super Bowl some years back. It's awesome!

Paula Slade said...

The opening ceremonies were beautiful!! (I do agree about anthems being sung by people who really don't have the range to sing them.)