PS Magazine Sept/Oct
Beginning with the 2014-2015 skating season, the ISU will allow vocals to be used in both singles and pairs.
While I think I am in the minority on this subject, I can’t wait. My mind dreams of Kurt Browning performing his “Singing in the Rain” program. If you’ve never seen it, I would look for it on YouTube. Now I’m not advocating props and rainmakers, etc, but his interpretation of the piece is breath-taking and probably one of the greatest programs EVER! Another excellent example is Robin Cousins or Brian Boitano skating to Andrew Lloyd Webber's, “Music of the Night”. Ilia Kulik’s “Too Darn Hot”, or Michelle Kwan’s, “Fieldsof Gold” are also on YouTube. Search for your favorite skater and you will find many of their greatest programs, vocals and instrumentals alike.
Whether allowing vocals will be a good idea or not, I guess we will see; there are obvious pros and cons. Some of the cons that I have heard are that vocals are a distraction and that we are going to see program after program of rap music. I just don’t buy that. The sport, at least for the time being, is still judged by trained officials, and if the music is inappropriate or a distraction for them, it will reflect in their scores.
As we do know, most coaches, choreographers, and skaters will mimic what wins. It also doesn’t seem to be a problem for exhibition programs, which are in many ways more popular than competitive programs. We also keep hearing that our fan base is aging and dying off and ratings are poor. Are we going to gain viewership with our product as it is now? I don’t believe that lyrics alone will change that, but I do believe that it will improve the quality of the experience. ISI has been using vocals for many years and the Governing Council voted to allow vocal music for all programs up through the intermediate level judged under the 6.0 system (rule 4040). The ISU has allowed dance and synchronized skating to have vocals for some time. I don’t believe we have seen a rash of poor vocal music choices.
What I do believe is that choices are a good thing. As a coach, I want the opportunity to be able to pick out the best selection of music based on the skill and maturity of my skater, and what will give my skater the best chance to succeed. If I pick Phantom of the Opera, I have a choice of vocals, no vocals, or a combination. I really have a hard time seeing how that could be bad.