Since Rio 2016 just wrapped up, I’m going to keep this month’s music feature Olympic-themed, focusing on just a few of my favorite songs used in Olympic floor routines.
The first is “Yellow River Piano Concerto.” Mo Huilan of China was one of my very first favorite gymnasts. Her 1996 routine featured a piece native to her homeland with a rich history. The concerto was conceived in the late 1930s as a symbolic telling of defiance against Japanese invaders. After the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, the song was banned from Chinese stages, but made a comeback via new interpretations in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The concerto was used by other gymnasts, most notably Amy Chow of the United States, but the cut used by Mo remains my fave.
The next is “Reel Around the Sun.” This song was part of the ridiculously popular Riverdance phase of the late 1990s into the early 2000s. Riverdance is a show featuring traditional Irish music and dance and, while not as huge as it once was, is still performed around the world to this day.
Many gymnasts did a routine to a song from the show in this time period. My fave routine to music from the show featured the aforementioned song and was competed by Andreea Raducan of Romania.
The third song is the winner of the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, “Wild Dances.” The Eurovision Song Contest, or just Eurovision, is an annual competition between the nations of Europe (plus Australia). It’s basically a really large talent show draped in national pride.
Originally performed by Ukrainian singer-songwriter Ruslana, the song was used at the 2012 London Games by the United States’ Jordyn Wieber.
Some other songs I’ve enjoyed in floor routines performed at the Olympics include, but certainly aren’t limited to: “Malaguena” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona (1992 – Tatiana Lysenko), Russian folk song “Two Guitars” (1996 – Shannon Miller), “Mr. Pinstripe Suit” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (2004 – Carly Patterson), “Moscow Nights” originally composed by Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi (2016 – Aliya Mustafina), and “Powerful” by Major Lazer (2016 – Catalina Ponor).