Like Christmas, if expectations are set too high for any event or experience, disappointment is pretty much inevitable. Wait long enough for something to arrive, and when that something is over, the absence will sting like a salted wound.
The 2012 London Olympics have come and gone, and the aftertaste of absorbing hour upon hour of hyped-beyond-belief, corporate-sponsored sport is a weird admixture of satiation and bummer. For every high point there were four or five low points, so at the tail end of the closing ceremonies there's the very real, very weird sense of sipping flat champagne (see above) in a trashed ballroom long after everyone else has cleared out.
"Triumphant (Get 'Em)," a vaguely topical recent single by Mariah Carey and Rick Ross, does an uncannily perfect job of crystallizing this feeling.
Let's get this out of the way up-front: "Triumphant" is a patently terrible song -- generic and forgettable on a variety of levels. Carey seems muted, dialed back, a backseat passenger in a Maybach driven by someone else. The hundred-thread count production, courtesy of Jermaine Dupri and Brian-Michael Cox, is washed out and hopelessly devoid of adhesive.
The keys are handed to Meek Mill and Rick Ross, who sleepwalk shamelessly through the thing, then Carey dutifully mimes their dope-boy boilerplate, which is ridiculous because this is supposed to be a Mariah Carey song. And it's not like the woman is new to holding her own with rap's elite: "Say Something" and the "Fantasy" remix alone are testaments to this diva's crossover durability. When the most appealing aspect of a single is the accompanying airbrushed-as-fuck promo picture, something's very wrong.
This song might have inspired somebody to tear themselves away from the 50-inch flatscreen to find the number for Domino's, but I feel comfortable betting that it didn't push anybody to earn 24 Karat Gold hardware in London or whatever; it's like the anti-"One Moment In Time." There's nothing whatsoever empowering about "Triumphant;" it hits like a lumpy pillow over-scented with M for Mariah Carey" perfume.
Maybe the word most apt here is "overblown." The Olympics, as an idea, engender anticipations that are unrealistic; it isn't unreasonable to hope for an upset of the established order, for a multitude of new faces and talents to bum-rush the medal stands. And sure, to some extent things change, but to a large extent they're no different: so many of the big names from Beijing in 2008 were the big names for London in 2012, and the NBC announcers, commentators, and puff-piece foisterers returned, as did the usual gang of advertisers.
Anything and everything, it seems, is best taken with a grain of salt: international sporting circuses, "event urban pop," major religious holidays. The less one expects, the less let down one is likely to feel afterwards.