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And the singer is ...
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By Raymond Zhou

The Olympic organizing committee has just let the cat out of the bag by revealing how fireworks will be used during the opening ceremony. We now know they can display the five rings in the sky, since a fireworks rehearsal is pretty hard to keep hush-hush.

A theme song, however, can be rehearsed in the privacy of a studio or even a living room. That makes it much more difficult to predict who will sing the all-important tune, which will be guaranteed a zillion air plays in the next year.

The CCTV annual gala might well have given us several clues, though.

Olga Borodina 

The only two singers who consistently get solo chances are Song Zuying and Peng Liyuan, who are both known for their traditional Chinese image and their so-called "Chinese bel canto" style of singing. But who is the likelier choice? They've never sung a duet and picking one over the other seems unfair. Besides, Forever Friends, written by perennial Olympic theme song composer Giorgio Moroder, does not seem to suit their style.

Dai Yuqiang

Picking from the pop scene is even harder. There are at least half a dozen A-listers, including Liu Huan, Mao Amin, Na Ying and Wei Wei. The national TV station usually abides by the principle of equal opportunity and has them share a song - the latest example is the earthquake relief show. If you push that logic a step further, the theme song may even be sung by a chorus of 100 singers. All the pre-Olympic jingles, including We Are Ready, were recorded this way.

There is little likelihood that popular choices such as Jay Chou and the Super Girls will make the cut. The only known Hong Kong or Taiwan singer with the vocal prowess to deliver a power ballad is Jacky Cheung but he is not exactly Andy Lau or Jackie Chan in terms of his political connections.

What about choosing a foreign singer? That would certainly give the show a touch of "internationalness" and therefore reflect the global aspirations of the host country. Celine Dion would have been ideal - with a song written by Tan Dun and orchestrated by David Foster, such a melody would be a surefire worldwide hit. But the cancellation of her Beijing concert earlier this year pretty much ruled her out of the running. If a foreign singer like Andrea Bocelli or Julio Iglesias were selected, he or she would probably sing with a Chinese partner. Call it the Barcelona way, for which Spaniard Jose Carreras and import Sarah Brightman teamed up for Amigos Para Siempre, a title almost identical to the Beijing theme song.

The last possibility is to have a new face, or more accurately, a new voice. That was more or less the way of the Los Angeles and Sydney Games. The result will catapult the singer to instant fame and it would have a positive spin-off. It would diffuse internal politics by excluding all the A-list stars and it would be the bravest thing organizers could do. So, it is not entirely impossible.

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