Olympic figure skating unveils new, modern soundtrack

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — When the International Skating Union made the popular decision to allow lyrics in al...

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 12:00 AM
Updated: Feb 14, 2018 12:00 AM

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — When the International Skating Union made the popular decision to allow lyrics in all performances, the Paul Simon classic "The Sound of Silence" seemed like it would be a natural choice.

The folk tune is light and airy and fits neatly within the confines of traditional figure skating.

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres went in another direction.

Yes, the French pairs team chose the 1960s hit for their short program last year, and will bring it back for their Olympic program Wednesday. But rather than the melodic version performed by Simon and Art Garfunkel, they opted for a haunting, heavy metal cover by American rock band Disturbed .

"It was our coaches who found it," James told The Associated Press. "They were like, 'We really think it could be a hit.' And Morgan listened to it and was like, 'I don't like it,' because we weren't used to it. And I was like, 'OK, let me see if I can get into this.' I thought it could be amazing, and I was like, 'Morgan, let's trust them.' And we were so right to have trusted them."

That's because the stirring rendition, coupled with the pair's dramatic program, became such a fan favorite that they replaced this season's program with it for the Pyeongchang Games.

"When you have a powerful voice and words to express," James said, "it changes everything."

Now, nobody is throwing tradition out the window. Fans still will see four Olympic programs set to "Carmen" and three to "Swan Lake." Two programs are set to the figure skating staple "Moonlight Sonata," including one by ice dance favorites Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

But the decision by skating's governing body after the 2014 Sochi Games to allow lyrics in all disciplines expanded the breadth of what is available, and skaters have taken broad liberties with it.

Ed Sheeran and Coldplay will provide popular soundtracks to the rest of the Olympic skating scene. The rock bands Imagine Dragons and Snow Patrol, English vocalist Benjamin Clementine and pop musicians Lorde, Christina Aguilera and Adele also have music in the mix.

"At the beginning, people were just choosing random music," Cipres recalled, "but after some time I think people realized it didn't work. You have to choose your music carefully."

Many skaters, such as James and Cipres, wound up choosing covers over an original. They may like the lyrics or message of a song but they also want it to have a different rhythm or feel.

Two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada wanted "With or Without You" for their short program, but they decided U2's original was a bit monotone. Their choreographers unearthed a little-known cover by singer-songwriter April Meservy that worked better for their routine.

"There are people who are like, 'Why aren't they skating to the original?' But if you listen to the original, it doesn't lend itself well to a figure skating program," Radford explained. "April's version just has more ebb and flow, and it just works better for us."

Worked out well for Meservy, too. An anonymous donor provided funds for her to travel from the U.S. to South Korea and watch Duhamel and Radford perform to her rendition on Olympic ice.

"'With or Without You' is a popular song," Duhamel said, "but we always try to find unique versions of things. We try to veer off the path and pick obscure versions of songs."

That's what German skater Paul Fentz thought he was doing when asked his choreographer to find a 1950s-style jazz tune, and wound up doing Paul Anka's version of the Oasis hit "Wonderwall."

Fentz performed to it during his short program for the team competition last week, and he quickly became a trending topic on social media as fans debated whether it was cool or cringe-worthy.

"That's the risk you take," said Fentz, whose free skate set to music from "Game of Thrones" ought to win back some skeptics. "I know the Oasis song, I really like it. But it wasn't like I was trying to make something new or something. I just wanted something a little smoother."

The Austrian pairs team of Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer will perform to the well-known song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" when they step on the ice Wednesday for their short program.

Rather than the pop-fueled original by The Proclaimers , though, Ziegler and Kiefer chose a soaring version by the cast of "Sunshine on Leith" — a British musical set to the Scottish duo's music.

Jeff Buckley's popular version of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" will make an appearance, but so will two covers by K.D. Lang , including the one chosen by pairs favorites Han Cong and Sui Wenjing.

"We have so much more music to choose," Fentz said. "Many skaters picked Ed Sheeran or something, and you can't skate to Ed Sheeran without lyrics. You can't pick that.

"With lyrics," Fentz said, "it's just better."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
DeSoto157216
Madison129634
Jones112049
Neshoba98571
Rankin91612
Lauderdale90879
Harrison88610
Forrest86042
Scott77015
Jackson61616
Copiah60216
Washington5789
Leake57519
Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51118
Yazoo5056
Leflore48651
Lowndes48312
Grenada4795
Lamar4567
Lincoln45434
Pike43112
Monroe39930
Lafayette3894
Sunflower3737
Attala35923
Covington3475
Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Adams31018
Simpson3103
Pontotoc2836
Tate27810
Chickasaw27618
Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
Pearl River25432
Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1070
Washington1057
Cherokee857
Geneva790
Lamar751
Fayette681
Clay642
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 96°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 98°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 93°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 96°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather