Now that we have identified the Warhorses of the day, let’s move on to the other music is still heavily, and I might added over, used in figure skating. I have only tracked music choices over the past 6 years, so while there may be an argument for several of these as warhorses, I’ve just gone by those numbers. So really, for our purposes here, the major difference is that warhorses are used A LOT, and these pieces of music are used a lot. It’s a subtle distinction. Maybe I should just call them wannabe/borderline warhorses; music in “the danger zone.” So, to summarize, these pieces have all been used multiple times in skating, although slightly less than the warhorses, and have either become familiar because of their use or are familiar to begin with because of their culturally prevalence. I will absolutely acknowledge that a lot of this music is good music (My Fair Lady!). I’m sorry you can’t use it, but there is a limit for everything.
I can understand the temptation. Familiarity can be a good thing for a music choice, setting the mood and engaging the audience right away, but if familiarity also allows the audience (and judges) to compare you to many other skaters in recent, or even not so recent, memory, it’s maybe not worth it. It might be alright if you are absolutely sure that you can skate it better but remember the adage: familiarity breeds contempt. So even if you really love the music, it’s better to put it aside. It’s like when two babies are born in a family or group of friends and the parents both like the same name. Whoever gets there first wins, and the second has to admit defeat graciously and choose something else.
II. Moderately to Heavily Used Music: Recognizable Themes
- The Aadams Family theme music by Vic Mizzy
- An American in Paris score by Gershwin
- Amelie soundtrack by Yann Tiersen
- Anna Karenina by Darianelli
- The Artist by Ludovic Bource
- Burlesque – Who knew? I don’t even know how to credit this one.
- Cinderella by Patrick Doyle
- Cinema Paradiso, Lady Caliph, The Mission and Once Upon a Time in America by Morricone – He’s just a really popular guy.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Tan Dun
- Dirty Dancing – I’m sorry, you can’t wear the pink dress.
- Dr. Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia by Maurice Jarre – They are still holding in there! I want to applaud and not at the same time.
- East of Eden by Holdridge
- Fellini movie themes – Putting together a medley of music from different Fellini films is a thing, so it sort of puts all the films off limits.
- Frida soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal
- Game of Thrones by Raman Djawadi
- Lots of things by Hans Zimmer: Gladiator; Nyah from Mission Impossible II; Pirates of the Caribbean movie soundtracks (plural), several of which are by Hans but they all get meshed together, so this is for all of them; and The Lion King score by Hans Zimmer but let’s also include the songs by Elton John and Tim Rice
- Gone With the Wind and Micmacs by Max Steiner – Okay Micmacs is not in as much danger as Gone With the Wind but I can feel people thinking it would be an original choice. It’s not.
- La La Land soundtrack by Justin Hurwitz – This just happened in the past year but it shows no signs of abating.
- Life is Beautiful by Nicola Piovani
- The Piano soundtrack by Michael Nyman
- The Pink Panther by Henry Mancini
- Memoirs of a Geisha by John Williams – Satoko got away with it but she is the Tiny Queen, and I think that would just be a nice note to end on.
- The Star Wars theme and movie soundtracks also by John Williams but other people too
- Havana by Dave Grusin
- The Red Violin by John Corigliano – Just a note that if you cannot help yourself and you use this music, it is not by Joshua Bell; it is performed by him.
- Requiem of a Dream by Clint Mansell
- Romeo and Juliet soundtrack from the film directed by Luhrmann – Shakespeare strikes again! Everybody loves those dying teenagers.
- Somewhere in Time by John Barry
- The Theory of Everything by Johann Johannsson
- Titanic by James Horner
- Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Michel Legrande
I realize that’s a lot of movies. But please be comforted. It’s not all of them!
- Send In the Clowns from A Little Night Music
- Big Spender from Sweet Charity
- Papa, Can You Hear Me? From Yentle – So far all of Yentle is not off the table but it’s pretty close.
- Also Evita, Ghost: the Musical, Grease, Miss Saigon, My Fair Lady and Sunset Boulevard in their entirety.
- Maria de Buenos Aires by Piazzolla – Where does one include a tango operetta? File this under Piazzolla tangos.
More Tangos and Spanish-Inspired Music:
- Assassin’s Tango by John Powell
- El Choclo by Villoldo
- La Cumparsita by Rodriguez
- Por una cabeza by Carlos Gardel
- Tango Amore by Edvin Marton
- Tango Jalousie, Gade
- Espana Cani by Narro
- Esperanza by Maxime Rodriguez
- Historia de un Amor by Carlos Eleta Almaran
- Poeta en el Mar by Amigo
With Tango Romantica coming up next season in dance, I think dancers should particularly take note. But, if you are in another discipline, dance is doing Tango Romantica next season, so take note.
- Le Corsaire by Adolphe Adam
- Polovstian Dances from Prince Igor by Borodin
- Chopin Nocturnes No. 2 and No. 20 – Chopin in general is a popular choice but these two Nocturnes seem to have had the most attention.
- Claire de Lune by Debussy
- Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin
- The Planets by Holst – There are several planets to chose from. Mars seems to be a particular favourite. If you steer clear of Mars, you might be okay but I can’t promise anything.
- Spartacus by Katchaturian – The Adagio in particular
- Masquerade Suite by Katchaturian – In this case, the Waltz
- Meditation from Thais by Massenet
- Piano Concerto No. 23 by Mozart
- Carmina Burana by Orff
- Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini and Piano Concerto No. 3 by Rachmaninoff
- Bolero by Ravel – This one has died down in the past couple years but that does not mean it is due for a revival.
- The Barber of Seville by Rossini
- Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Samson and Delilah and Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens
- The Radetsky March by Johann Strauss Sr.
- The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss Jr.
- The Firebird by Stravinsky
- Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky
- Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky – Suprisingly, in the past few years this has been the least used Romeo and Juliet, however, that still means quite a bit.
- La Traviata by Verdi
Other Songs and Music
- Experience by Einaudi
- And the Waltz Goes On by Anthony Hopkins
- Harlem Nocturne by Hagen & Rogers
- Bei Mir Bist du Schoen by Jacobs & Secunda
- Gopher Mambo by Vivanco, performed by Yma Sumac
- Jumpin’ Jack by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway
- Sway by Luis Demetrio
- Hip, Hip, Chin, Chin by Club des Belugas
- Dark Eyes by Adalgasio Ferraris
- Everybody Wants to Rule the World, performed by Lorde – This version of the song has gotten attention lately but probably stay away from any version.
- In My Eyes by Peter Gabriel
- La vie en rose by Edith Piaf – In it’s many versions
- Maybe I, Maybe You by The Scorpions
- Kiss by Prince – I know we all love Prince but really.
- Io ci saro by David Foster and Afanasieff
- Sarabande Suite by Globus
- Nella Fantasia by Morricone and Ferrau
- At Last by Gordon and Warren – Usually performed by Etta James. I don’t know if anyone has every used another version but for our purposes that doesn’t really matter.
- Fever by Eddie Cooley
- I Put a Spell On You by Jay Hawkins
- It’s a Man’s World by James Brown
- Money, Great Gig in the Sky or Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd – And preferably not as a medley.
- Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
- Frank Sinatra songs like Fly Me to the Moon or My Way – Frank Sinatra in general is a theme to stay away from.
- Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – And all its covers.
- The Prayer by Celine Dion
- You Raise Me Up, performed by Josh Groban – This has many versions, but this seems to be the one of choice at the moment. Oh, Joshy! So sentimental.
As skaters, choreographers, and coaches make music selections for the upcoming season, I hope they really get out there and explore the music world. Just don’t skim the surface! There is a lot to choose from and maybe that scares people off. They don’t even know where to begin, so they decide to select from the narrow range of what has been used before which really is a shame. It’s just been reported that Alina Zagitova is using music from The Phantom of the Opera for her short program, so I feel this is a timely post. Clearly, not everybody understands the situation. Let’s spread the word and try to prevent an epidemic (pandemic?) before it happens.
A final word on timing – Sometimes a skater just hits the right time with a piece of music like the skater who is the first to use a piece of music. (If that’s you, get in there quick.) Or, the skater who finds a piece that hasn’t been used for many years (emphasis on many). These programs always stand out in my mind because they are fresh! So, if there is piece you really love and really want to skate to but it is a warhorse or on the danger list, just tuck it away and wait and maybe your time will come!