Lost Opportunity - Radiant

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Lost Opportunity

Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg

Last week, at the State Of The City address, the new theme song for London, Ontario (our hometown) was revealed by mayor, Joe Fontana. The song is called 'City of Opportunity' and is performed by long-time local celebrity and political pundit, Jim Chapman and his band, the Incontinentals.

You can listen to it here.

In short, the song is awful and quite frankly, it's nothing short of embarrassing to our city.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of creating a theme song that will rally Londoners and share the greatness of our city with the world - we need those kinds of communication ideas and strategies. 

But the execution of the concept doesn't even come close to that passion. In short, the lyrics are a bullet point list of why London is great with very little nuance or beauty to them. Lines like "river runs through it" try to be creative in harkening back to classic American literature, but do so in a clunky and unconvincing manner. The lyrics stop just shy of listing the corporate tax rates as they encourage listeners to "Imagine a factory where none was before. Imagine an office, imagine a store" - lines that feel as though they were pulled directly from a Dr. Seuss book.

The music is uppity and dated and as such, finds no home as it floats in a space between being anthemic or contemplative, where theme songs need to be if they are going to get picked up and bought into.

So, what do good theme songs sound like? Here's a few:

Tony Bennet, singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"
Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York"
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys singing "Empire State of Mind"
Harry Connick Jr. singing "Do You Know What it Means, to Miss New Orleans"

All of these songs, although very different stylistically, serve to accurately and passionately represent the city they reference. Bennet's contemplative and wistful singing of the lyrics make you want to be in San Francisco. Frank Sinatra's powerful voice draws you into just how great New York is as a city. Jay-Z's punchy rap represents the culture of New York in a way that resonates, especially when coupled with the stunning vocals of Alicia Keys. Then there's Harry Connick singing about his home town of New Orleans with deep and heartfelt passion.

Each of those songs tells a story and conveys the love the artist has for the city they are singing about. It's authentic and it's powerful. In contrast, "City of Opportunity" is forced, lacks nuance and doesn't reflect true passion.

As a result, it's a perfect example of where many communications efforts go wrong - great ideas ending in poor execution.

London is a great city that is indeed full of opportunity. We need to be passionate about communicating that in great ways. This, however, is more like an 'opportunity' lost.