It’s hard to say exactly what makes something a classic. It’s not just getting famous and then getting old, although that’s similar. The distinction is illustrated nicely in the difference between The Who, a “classic” of rock and roll, and Duran Duran, a band who simply got famous and then got old.
The Olympic Committee has been taking some serious heat today over announcing its selection of Duran Duran to headline the opening ceremonies at the 2012 Olympics in London this summer—as if the Olympic committee didn’t know the difference between a classic and a has-been. But to be fair, the Committee did actually try for The Who first—they tried to reunite the band with Keith Moon, its original drummer. But apparently someone forgot to tell them Moon died in 1978. So, more so than being guilty of bad taste, the Committee seems to be guilty of an embarrassing dearth of rock trivia.
Still, you can’t help but feel they gave up pretty easily. After all, this is England we’re talking about here, a country with more world class bands per capita than anyplace on earth. In fact England is much better at producing world-class musicians than world-class athletes. You don’t even have to dig back in time to find a British classic to play: How about Radiohead? For something more mainstream, couldn’t they have at least gone for Coldplay?
The Olympics arguably would have been better off putting their lineup for the closing ceremonies—New Order and Blur—on in place of the current lineup for opening night. Snow Patrol (from Northern Ireland) and Sterephonics are currently slated to round out the opening ceremonies.
Contact Music points out that Brits were among the global bellyaching over the Duran Duran announcement with novelist and music journalist Tony Parsons tweeting, “Duran Duran to headline Olympic gig. Who is running the 1500 metres – Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett?”.
Bottom line line is: When you’re England and you’re hosting the Olympics, as long as he’s alive you get Paul McCartney.