A pound for playing but Games bring global kudos

LONDON Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:33am EDT

Musician Paul McCartney performs during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Musician Paul McCartney performs during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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LONDON (Reuters) - The stars of the London Olympic opening were paid just a pound each, but their songs have leapt up the charts having featured in the world's most-watched concert this year.

"Big name" entertainers such as ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, London rapper Dizzee Rascal and "Mr. Bean" comedian Rowan Atkinson all signed a token one pound ($1.60) contract in order to meet the requirements of the Olympic organizing committee.

The honor of performing before a British television audience of 27 million people, nearly half the nation, and about a billion more around the globe made up for the paltry fee.

"I got paid one pound for my work," Scottish singer Emeli Sande, who sang a version of the hymn "Abide with Me" at the ceremony, told London's Evening Standard newspaper.

"It's there in print and I know because I signed the contract myself. Mind you, I haven't received anything yet!

"When I do, though, that one pound will be truly special. Part of what made the whole event so special was the volunteers who were paid nothing and even paid for their own accommodation. It shows how important art is."

It also shows how important exposure is.

Director Danny Boyle's exuberant and eccentric ceremony featured a roll call of British music ranging from Elgar and Parry to Dizzee Rascal and the Sugababes with the Beatles, The Who, Sex Pistols and David Bowie among those in between.

The official soundtrack anthology to the music-filled show was the fifth biggest seller in the weekly compilation album chart published on Sunday after just 24 hours on sale.

CHARIOTS OF FIRE

At least 15 tracks featured at the ceremony also moved up the rankings, including "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor", performed on the night by Arctic Monkeys, which re-entered the singles chart at no. 67.

Their cover of The Beatles' "Come Together" stood at no. 95, according to the Official Charts Company, while Underworld's "Caliban's Dream" was new at 69 and their hit "Born Slippy" re-entered at 111.

Further gains are expected by the time the midweek pop chart is published on Wednesday, while in the classical rankings, it was a dead heat between Olympic-related music and Hans Zimmer's movie scores, particularly the latest Batman blockbuster.

"Rise", from the soundtrack of "The Dark Knight Rises", was the German Oscar-winner's first Official Classical Singles Chart no. 1, while the London Symphony Orchestra's rendition of "Chariots of Fire", played at the ceremony, was in second.

Overall in the classical chart, there were seven Zimmer tunes in the top 20, the same number as Olympic-related numbers.

Frank Turner, the folk/punk singer who warmed up the Olympic Stadium crowd before two rehearsals last week and at Friday's $42 million ceremony, said the iTunes chart was looking "pretty healthy" since he performed.

He told Reuters by email that he was not paid, although some expenses were covered, yet came in for criticism from followers who accused him of "selling out" to the cultural mainstream for taking part.

"I did get some negative feedback on the event, which was expected - if you come from the punk rock scene, it's almost impossible to take any kind of step without someone somewhere having a go," he said.

"Some of the criticism had some intelligence to it, and it's not for me to dictate everyone's opinion, but overall I stand by the decision to play, it was one hell of an experience."

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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