|Photo by Scott Webb|
When London Ontario's mayor, Joe Fontana, revealed an unofficial theme song for the city, reactions were, to put it kindly, not positive.
If you haven't seen it, here (fast forward to 1:19:30) is the awkward unveiling that would be right at home on one of the "so uncomfortable it's funny" sitcoms like The Office or Party Down or Parks and Recreation.
The problem with the song is that it fails to fulfil its intended purpose of getting people pumped about the city of London. Like, listen to the music; it sounds like it could've come out in the era of the London Tigers (perhaps because Jim Chapman penned the hilariously violent "Tear 'Em Up Tigers" theme song as well). "Stuck in 1990" doesn't exactly scream "exciting modern city."
Then there are the lyrics. Let's go through them:
Imagine a city where the river runs through it
Ok Jim, lemme give it a try. Closing my eyes...imagining...oh look, it's half the cities in the world! Having access to a source of water doesn't differentiate our city. Couldn't you have at least mentioned the forks of the river?
Imagine a city where dreams can come true
Imagine your future how you want it to be
Imagine a city full of unicorns and glitter and Care Bears!
In London, the city of opportunity
Imagine a factory where none was before
As opposed to a factory built on the ruins of another factory? Regardless, it's hard to imagine a more mundane feature than a factory. Except...
Imagine an office, imagine a store
Wait, wait. Stop. You're telling me London has an office and a store? Here, let me add some more lyrics that'll jazz up this little ditty:
Imagine a building.
Imagine this sandwich.
Imagine some cardboard.
[Blah blah more lyrics that are so general and meaningless that they could apply to any city, or really, any topic at all]
One of London's image problems is a perception of blandness, and the mayor shoving this auditory pablum into our ears only confirms that perception.
The chorus sums it up:
The closer you look, the more that you see, that
London is the city of opportunity!
Translation: if you squint really hard and look closely, there might be potential for something to happen in London, sometime. "Opportunity" is a future-facing thing. While having a future is all well and good, in the context of this musical tour through Humdrum City, it implies that we're a town sitting around waiting around for its big opportunity to do anything relevant.
See here's the thing: we can do better than this. I'm not gonna say "anyone could write this song," because I certainly couldn't. However, I've seen plenty of genuine creativity in this city. Art that goes beyond platitudes and clichés. Even the responses to this jingle, like the dubstep remix, Baptized in Blood's metal cover, and Jason's Downfall parody, are more fresh and in touch with reality than the original.
The song has had the ironic effect of showcasing some of London's talent and enthusiasm through their negative reactions to it. We wouldn't be complaining about it if we didn't love this city—and not just for its "opportunities," but for what it is now. You don't have to look too close to see that.