Despite photos of half-finished hotels, dour sports venues, stray dogs, and an Olympic rings blooper pouring out of Sochi, the 2014 Winter Olympics host got one thing right: having its Red Army Choir cover Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" at the Opening Ceremony. Well, almost...
Friday's opening festivities were set to broadcast in the U.S. hours after the actual ceremony took place, but one of the biggest wins of the night came right before the kickoff event began. The Red Army Choir is indeed the official choir of Russia's armed forces, always clad in imposing uniforms. Most of the ensemble's repertoire consists of Russian classics. But they also know how to get down to some pop hits.
Along with "Get Lucky" and "Sweet Home Alabama," here are more unexpected, and unexpectedly awesome, covers by the guys in green and gold.
1. Adele's Oscar- and Grammy-winning Bond hit, "Skyfall" — The choir transforms the sultry song into something far more cool and nefarious, worthy of Bond's many Russian nemeses. Many of the singers reportedly don't speak English, making it pretty darn interesting to listen to their phonetic stylings.
2. Men at Work's "Down Under" — If the Australian band's '80s hit was originally a Russian folk song, this is exactly how it would sound. It's absolutely glorious.
3. Queen's "The Show Must Go On" — The surprises just keep coming. The Red Army Choir even shot a music video for its cover of the angsty song, which was written about iconic gay frontman Freddie Mercury's battle with AIDS. We like these guys even more now.
4. Merle Travis's "Sixteen Tons" — The Red Army Choir's catalog went deep into American music history when it covered Travis's 1946 country coal-miner hit. The song has been covered by everyone from Elvis and Johnny Cash to Tom Morello and LeAnn Rimes, so perhaps it wasn't such an anomaly that the song eventually wound up being sung by the Russian military.
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" with the Leningrad Cowboys — Now this is the most unexpected of them all. Turns out, the group's dalliance with U.S. pop culture goes deeper than you'd think. The choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, appeared on — wait for it — the MTV Video Music Awards in 1994 as backup to the eccentric Finnish rock band the Leningrad Cowboys, doing a cover of "Sweet Home Alabama." Sweet, indeed.