John Lennon’s 'Imagine' and iconic video game themes soundtrack 2020 Tokyo Olympics opening

Published July 27, 2021, 11:26 AM

by Punch Liwanag

Yoko Ono and John Lennon from the John Lennon Official Facebook Account

In case you missed it, music figured significantly in the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In particular, John Lennon’s “Imagine” was featured as the opening festivities of the 2020 Japan Olympics kicked into high gear, punctuated by a swarm of remote-controlled drones that lit up the immediate sky above the Japan National Stadium.

The Hans Zimmer-orchestrated version of “Imagine” also featured taped performances of John Legend and Keith Urban as it interspersed with the made-for-TV opening ceremony.

Angélique Kidjo, a three-time Grammy Award winner and a renowned West African singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Spanish singer and four-time Grammy Award winner Alejandro Sanz, as well as the Suginami Junior Chorus was also part of the “Imagine” production as 2,000 drones moved in-sync and shifted in time with the utopian-themed song from John Lennon’s 1971 album of the same name.

Olympic Opening (John Lennon Facebook)

Meanwhile, music from iconic video games was given a nod during the opening as an orchestral medley of “Roto’s Theme” from Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy’s “Victory Fanfare,” and “Star Light Zone” from Sonic The Hedgehog played at the parade of countries at the opening. Said games are developed by Japanese gaming companies SEGA, Capcom and Square Enix.

“Imagine” has been featured in several Olympic games over the decades. The most recent it was used was during the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang. The 2012 games in London, 2006 in Torino wherein Peter Gabriel sang the song, and in 1996 in Atlanta where Stevie Wonder did his own take.

On Twitter, Yoko Ono said, “John and I were both artists, and we were living together, so we inspired each other. The song ‘Imagine’ embodied what we believed together at the time. John and I met – he comes from the West and I come from the East – and still we are together.”

The International Olympic Committee echoed that statement when it said that, “We’re not the first to say “Imagine No Countries’ or ‘Give Peace A Chance,’ but we’re carrying that torch, like the Olympic torch, passing it hand to hand, to each other, to each country, to each generation. And that’s our job.”

After the torch made its traditional long journey, Japanese Tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron to signal the official start of the 2020 Tokyo games.

 
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