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Sochi 2014: The Winter Olympics of our discontent

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The Winter Olympics kicked off in Sochi, Russia on February 8 with a grand opening ceremony at the symbolic hour of 20:14PM, the year of the games, a games already beset with problems of substandard and dangerous hotel accommodations, among other issues. Unfortunately for American audiences, so also began the incessant jammer-jammering of NBC sports announcers. They talked over music audiences want to hear, and even talked over opening ceremony speakers. It’s the disappointment Olympic malcontents deal with every Olympic year, NBC’s ruinous coverage.

Music lovers, perhaps, take it harder than anyone. While international opera superstar, Anna Netrebko, sang the snot out of the Olympic anthem, NBC cameras cut away to Team USA, wearing their ugly sweaters. At least the athletes filmed the spectacle on their cell phones. Not only can Netrebko hit gorgeous, shimmering highs and lows, her gorgeous, blue gown flattered her beauty and slender frame. Why look at Team USA at that moment?

During the spectacle, some announcements certainly could have been subtitles; performer names, dance companies, the period of Russian history represented, pieces of music. Instead, the announcers spoke nearly incessantly over everything, disrupting the flow of the performance, as they did during the pre-ceremony team ice-skating event shown during prime time on February 7, adding nasty and tiresome commentary about the “disastrous" skating performance of Jeremy Abbott, which landed team USA in relatively creditable, but not medal-winning, 8th place.

Rather than show more skating performances during the February 7 telecast, NBC interviewed Americans, and only showed the top rock star performers like Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, but then talked over his great rock soundtrack and awe-inspiring ease, or cut away to Bob Costas, who either doesn't have upper teeth or has had too many botox injections, for vapid commentary.

Meanwhile, an un-televised French team placed 3rd over Team USA in 8th place. Those wanting to actually hear the Canadian pair’s music, were hardly allowed to, though Eric Redford is the only ice skater who composes his own pieces. At the very least, the music selections are listed in subtitles so viewers can look them up on YouTube and hear them sans announcers

Subtitles of the selections would have been a source of joy for music lovers during the opening ceremonies. So, music lovers wondering what the selections were, here is a partial list of pieces to check out. Unfortunately, it was not possible to catch all of the musical selections.

  1. Igor Stravinsky – ‘Rite Of Spring’ and ‘Firebird Suite.’
  2. Alexander Borodin – ‘Overture, Polovtsian Dances and March from ‘Prince Igor’.’ (Also recognizable as ‘Stranger In Paradise’ from the musical ‘Kismet.’
  3. Arkady Ostrovsky‘Trololo’ video version or 'Vocalise' live with orchestra.
  4. Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky – ‘Swan Lake’ selection.
  5. Sergei Prokofiev – ‘Waltz’ from ‘War And Peace’

NBC, in all its alleged brilliance, decided not to air the Red Army Chorus MVD’s rendition of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky.’ The song won 2 Grammy Awards at this year’s ceremonies and is a huge international hit. Daft Punk won 2 additional Grammys for the album the song came from titled, ‘Random Access Memories.’ The Red Army Choir also covers Adele’s ‘Skyfall.’ What NBC genius decided that one for American audiences? No wonder Olympic malcontents abound.

On a side note, there are attractive uniform options out there, but Ralph Lauren’s Polo sweater design was the all-around loser. Serbia, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, and Sweden endeared with matching hat and scarf sets. Estonia even got gloves. Togo deserves recognition for their optimistic palm tree uniform. Team USA’s tacky uniforms count as an embarrassment beyond one of the Olympic rings not opening, or one of the snowboarders not lighting up during the 3 hour ceremony. At least Olympians will be winning ugly sweater contests back home.

Do not waste time looking for the replay on Youtube since many just post their nattering reviews. Go directly to the source, which is www.nbcolympics.com/video/world-gathers-opening-ceremony. And for more about some of the ceremony performers, please see The New York Times.

To catch more Olympic glory and endless chitter-chatter of announcers, tune in to NBC. Or watch via live streaming at stream.nbcolympics.com/live-extra. You will find yourself yelling at the announcers, ‘Shut up!’ Here’s hoping that NBC will someday feature the announcers on one stereo channel, which can shut off their incessant jibber-jabbering like the lead vocal track on a karaoke tape. More sports, less talk, please!

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