Chariots of Fire, the drama depicting two British Olympian runners, was released in 1981—40 years ago this spring—and left us with an enduring cultural treasure: its musical theme. The pulsing, instrumental anthem summoned the will to accomplish our dreams and served as the soundtrack for the world's fake-slow-motion running activities for a generation.
The 1980s also gave the world another musical gift of Olympic proportions—this time for the real-life Summer games: The Official Music of the XXIIIrd Olympiad Los Angeles 1984. The lesser-known album served, and serves, not only as an historical souvenir but as the definitive collection of athletic event and ceremony themes crafted for the occasion—including the debut of John William's beloved and perennial composition, "Olympic Fanfare and Theme."
Lost to the vagaries of time and digitization and only available through piecemealed tracks and YouTube links, The Official Music was an ambitious undertaking, led by Hollywood all-star producers Peter Guber and Jon Peters, who played off the glossy, neon-clad excess that the world of 1980s entertainment had in piles.
The top of the album leads off with the traditional "Bugler's Dream (From Charge Suite)" by Arnaud, followed by a moody synthesizer swell. Then, a male vocalist gets on the mic: "You know you paid the price / you made every sacrifice" and bam, "Nothing's Gonna Stop You Now (Team Sports Theme)."