Adam Rippon skates to “Let Me Think About It” during the men’s single skating short program on Feb. 16. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)
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The 2018 Winter Olympics mark the first year that figure skaters have been able to use music with lyrics for their routines. Live-tweeters have now been yelling about it for two weeks, and the increased attention has even contributed to a spike in music streaming. The lyrical privilege, once only afforded to ice dancers, means single skaters are no longer forced to skate to Bizet or Tchaikovsky, though some still did.

While nobody opted for anything as crazy as Smash Mouth’s “All Star” — a missed opportunity, if you ask me — many of the chosen tunes did stand out from the rest. Here are the most memorable figure skating routines ranked from worst to best song choice, complete with scores on a scale of 1 to 10 (which is different than the International Skating Union’s methods, because it is confusing as heck).


Patrick Chan of Canada performing to “Hallelujah” in the men’s free skate. (David J. Phillip/AP)

10. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley — Patrick Chan (Canada)

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” might be one of the most covered songs in human history. A favorite of death scenes in teen dramas like “The O.C.” — RIP Marissa Cooper — or the cringey “Saturday Night Live” cold open by Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, it somehow maintains the power to capture audiences’ attention. Jeff Buckley’s rendition is the most famous cover, and when you add Patrick Chan’s grace into the mix, it is hard to look away. We will let it slide this time, but, please, let’s give “Hallelujah” a rest.

Song Quality: 6

Originality: 2

Skater’s Interpretation: 6

Total: 14


Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim (Julie Jacobson/AP)

9. “Come What May” by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor — Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim (United States)

The “Moulin Rouge!” soundtrack took the Olympics by storm. Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold with a routine set to a medley of the movie’s songs, while married couple Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim opted for a single one. “Come What May” features both Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, and why wouldn’t you want to hear those two sing? The Knierims’ performance makes a good case for “Moulin Rouge! on Ice,” or at least a McGregor-starring stand-alone Obi-Wan musical. The voice is strong with this one.

Song Quality: 6

Originality: 3

Skater’s Interpretation: 6

Total: 15

8. “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol — Vincent Zhou (United States)

Did you ever think you would hear Snow Patrol at the Olympics? The last time this many people listened to “Chasing Cars” at the same time was probably when that godawful musical episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” first aired. (Can we just pretend that never happened? Thanks.) At 17, Vincent Zhou is the youngest American competing in any event during the Winter Olympics, and he landed the first-ever quad Lutz on Olympic ice during his debut performance. That is considered one of the most difficult jumps to land. Readers, that is the power of Snow Patrol.

Song Quality: 6

Originality: 5

Skater’s Interpretation: 5

Total: 16


Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

7. “Sound of Silence” by Disturbed — Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (France) 

James and Cipres are two-timers on this list, proof enough that they have incredible taste in music. We don’t blame the pair for not wanting to skate to Simon and Garfunkel — their music doesn’t align with the dramatic vibe the Olympians go for — and this chilling Disturbed cover does “Sound of Silence” justice. As Cipres threw James into the air, NBC figure skating commentator and previous gold medalist Tara Lipinski said, “They actually got 5.5 million hits on YouTube because this was so popular. That’s a moment where figure skating transcends pop culture.” I might have contributed 100 hits.

Song Quality: 5

Originality: 6

Skater’s Interpretation: 6

Total: 17

6. “Wonderwall” by Paul Anka — Paul Fentz (Germany)

Anyway, here is “Wonderwall.”

I cannot believe it took this routine for me to discover Paul Anka’s perplexing masterpiece “Rock Swings.” The 2005 album features big band covers of ’80s and ’90s rock songs, ranging from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to “Eye of the Tiger” to, yes, Oasis’s “Wonderwall.” It makes absolutely no sense at all, which adds to its value. Once you get over the bizarreness and listen to the song itself, you’ll find that it’s actually kind of great. Good going, Paul Fentz.

Song Quality: 6

Originality: 7

Skater’s Interpretation: 5

Total: 18


Maé-Bérénice Méité (How Hwee Young/EPA-EFE//Shutterstock)

5. “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé and “Halo” — Maé-Bérénice Méité (France)

If you give people the opportunity to skate to Beyoncé, someone will skate to Beyoncé. That is just how life works. Maé-Bérénice Méité did herself a solid by choosing songs off the album “4” and its predecessor, “I Am . . . Sasha Fierce,” for the team event, but she did us all dirty by using a cover of “Halo” instead of the original. It was a beautiful, stripped-down version, but the singer — who has not yet been identified — is no Queen Bey. Maybe she should have just gotten Leslie Jones to sing it instead.

Song Quality: 8

Originality: 5

Skater’s Interpretation: 6

Total: 19


Hungary’s Ivett Toth’s costume after her performance in the women’s short program. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

4. “Back in Black” and “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC — Ivett Toth (Hungary)

The Oscar-nominated film “I, Tonya” reinforces the fact that figure skating has a long history of being pretty and frilly. So when Ivett Toth skated around in a studded leather outfit to AC/DC’s rock music, viewers — along with judges of the past Olympics, probably — were shocked. In a good way, of course. Toth’s routine brought a bunch of much-needed energy to the arena with fun choreography and screaming vocals.

Song Quality: 7

Originality: 7

Skater’s Interpretation: 6

Total: 20


Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

3. “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran — Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (France)

Yes, Ed Sheeran. Before we get to the polarizing singer, though, let’s chat about how “Make It Rain” is the figure skating song of our dreams. Striking the perfect balance between sultry and tame, this bluesy tune practically begs for pairs to skate to it, which Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres did for their short program. It is slow-paced, but the drawn-out notes keep our attention.

Why isn’t this at the top of the list? Blame Mr. Sheeran. Listen to the original Foy Vance version of the song, and you will be blown away. Sheeran’s clean vocals, though they show his talent, are simply no match for Vance’s raspy voice.

Song Quality: 7

Originality: 6

Skater’s Interpretation: 8

Total: 21

2. “Home Town Glory” by Adele — Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (Canada) 

“Home Town Glory,” off Adele’s debut album, “19,” isn’t usually the first song that comes to mind when thinking of the Grammy-winning soulstress, but that might have been for the better. Instead of being distracted by the lyrics, we were able to appreciate her graceful voice floating through the arena while we focused on Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford’s well-executed routine. The pair ended up taking home bronze for the pairs competition.

Song Quality: 8

Originality: 7

Skater’s Interpretation: 8

Total: 23

1. “Let Me Think About It” by Ida Corr and Fedde Le Grand — Adam Rippon (United States) 

Adam Rippon’s short program can be described numerous ways, but the outspoken Olympian would probably want you to know his choice: “A little trashy, a little fun.” The song, performed by Danish singer Ida Corr and remixed by Dutch DJ Fedde Le Grand, packs in synth beats and horns, a welcome contrast from your typical “Swan Lake” routine.

Rippon’s playful confidence came through via finger wags and his dramatic finish, each movement perfectly aligned with the beat. The song shaped the captivating performance, but Rippon deserves a lot of the credit — he even managed to make Coldplay exciting again during his earlier PyeongChang debut. It must be the witchcraft.

Song Quality: 8

Originality: 8

Skater’s Interpretation: 8

Total: 24

Read more: 

Olympians Chloe Kim and Red Gerard are our Gen-Z heroes

‘I’m America’s sweetheart’: Adam Rippon won bronze, but he’s a gold-medal talker

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