PSB connections to the 2012 Olympics

To the surprise of many fans, the Pet Shop Boys wound up being associated with the 2012 Olympics, hosted by the city of London, in a number of ways—sometimes quite prominently, while at other times much more subtly.

1. The "Winner" single timing and packaging

Although the song "Winner" was not inspired by the Olympics, the Boys and their record company decided to release it as a single in conjunction with the 2012 games largely because the lyrics readily lent themselves to such an association. The single's packaging artwork enhanced the connection with its depiction of an Olympics-style winners' podium.

2. The recurrent usage of "West End Girls"

The Pet Shop Boys' first, biggest, and best-known hit made repeat appearances throughout the games. It was one of the songs used for the entry of the athletes during the opening cermonies. It was played repeatedly for the public in the Olympic Park. It was included on the Isles of Wonder various-artists Olympic CD collection. And our musical heroes themselves performed it during their appearance during the closing ceremonies and again in front of Buckingham Palace for the Olympics/Paralympics "victory parade." (More about those two events farther below.)

3. A live performance at the Olympic tennis matches

On July 28, Chris and Neil appeared live at the start of the Olymipc tennis matches at Wimbledon, for which they performed "Always on My Mind" and the aforementioned "Winner."

4. Their participation in the closing ceremonies

The Boys were among the large assortment of British artists who took part in the closing ceremonies on August 12. Neil and Chris rode through the stadium on rickshaws, miming to the near-ubiquitous "West End Girls."

5. Their participation Olympics/Paralympics parade

The 2012 Paralympic Games for athletes with disabilities were held immediately after the close of the Olympics in the host city, as they always have been since 1988. After their conclusion, the city of London hosted on September 10 a huge parade and festival to pay tribute to the athletes of both games, during which the Pet Shop Boys played a prominent role, performing several numbers, including "Winner."

6. Es Devlin

Stage and costume designer Es Devlin, who designed the London Olympics closing ceremony, had previously served as the creative director for the Boys' 2009 Pandemonium Tour. Both prominently featured "box-type" designs.

7. An admittedly tenuous connection via Moby Dick

Not long after the conclusion of the Olympics, Neil served as one of the readers for an online chapter-by-chapter audio presentation of the classic American novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The online artwork accompanying Neil's reading was a photo of the Olympic Park's Aquatic Center, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, known to PSB fans as the set designer for the 1999 Nightlife Tour.

8. Another somewhat tenuous connection via Coldplay

The band Coldplay performed their big hit "Viva la Vida" at the September 9 closing ceremony for the aforementioned Paralympics. Of course, the Boys have recorded and have often performed live their own cover of that song.

9. And yet another even more tenuous connection via performance venues

The Pet Shop Boys had previously performed at two (and possibly more) of the London Olympics competition venues: Hyde Park and the O2 North Greenwich Arena.