The 2018 Winter Olympics, hosted in PyeonChang, South Korea is about to get real. This year, new figure skating rules will allow singles and pairs to skate to music including lyrics. So, Beethoven and Swan Lake, although cornerstones to the sport, will no longer be in the spotlight. Instead, expect songs like “Wonderwall.”
However, conditions do apply. Songs will be mostly jazz or classically influenced covers of the originals. For example, German skater Paul Fentz skated to a Paul Anka’s jazzy interpretation of oh so well-known Oasis’s “Wonderwall.” Other skaters performed to Ed Sheeran and U2. Julian Yee, the first Malaysian to qualify to for Games in figure skating, will not debut to Bach, but to James Brown. Brown’s soulful voice will translate into a big stage presence and energy.
The new rule will be an attempt to attract a younger audience. While iconic pieces like The Nutcracker or Carmen may be great for traditional purposes, the result has been a lack in interest from both participants and viewers. Hopefully, with music everyone knows, figure skating will be more enjoyable and relatable. Not all judges are too keen about this. During the USA national trials, New York native Jimmy Ma skated to Lil John’s and DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What”. While the audience raved, judges did not, and Ma barely missed qualifying for the 2018 Olympics. Skaters argue that the new rule makes a lot of sense. No athletic event plays classical music before games to pump up the players other than figure skating. Athlete believe that being able to perform to lyrical pieces will translate into more energy and enthusiasm while performing.
Overall, the new rule has many implications for the music industry. The Olympic Games provide a global stage for these artist’s songs. It also allows for the showcase of music from countries other than those typically represented on the radio. Since the songs will be jazzy or classical twists, it allows for creative expression of musicians. Nothing brings people together like music.