The Olympic Closing Ceremony performance by Muse yesterday featured ‘Survival’, the official song of the London 2012 games, and an asinine prog ditty which doesn’t do justice to Team GB’s stunning form over the last three weeks. The wider British public haven’t exactly taken ‘Survival’ to their hearts (it did better on the French chart than in the UK Top 40), but a late entry is now threatening to become The People’s Olympic Anthem: electro-swing banger ‘London City’ by Whojax.
To be honest, ‘London City’ isn’t much better than ‘Survival’. Like every single other electro-swing track ever it’s rather irritating, and it will probably be utterly inescapable for the next couple of months. But it’ll all be worth it if ‘London City’ draws attention to the song that it samples: Lord Kitchener’s ‘London Is The Place For Me’ (1950).
Kitchener (real name Aldywn Roberts) was born in Trinidad in 1922, and came to Britain on the Empire Windrush in 1948 – the same year that the Olympics last came to London. ‘London Is The Place For Me’ was composed aboard the Windrush, and Kitchener was filmed by Pathé News singing it as the ship reached Tilbury. The problems of racism and unemployment which have affected ethnic minorities in London today mean that some of the song’s lyrics have taken on a poignant irony:
‘To live in London you really comfortable, Because the English people are very much sociable, They take you here and they take you there, And they make you feel like a millionaire, So London, that’s the place for me.’
But, first and foremost, ‘London Is The Place For Me’ is a testament to the optimism of the first immigrants – and a reminder that London can become home for anyone who’s willing to take full advantage of ‘this lovely city’. James Manning