History will repeat itself next month at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, when American Idol season 15 runner-up La’Porsha Renae’s coronation song, “Battles,” will serve as the theme song for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.
In 2012, the team famously used Phillip Phillps’ “Home” during the London Olympics, and the American Idol connection will continue this summer, Renae tells Billboard.
“I wasn’t even the winner of the show, so I felt very honored to be afforded this opportunity,” she says.
“Battles,” written by Who is Fancy (aka Jake Hagood), will be included on Renae’s Motown debut due out this November. The song was brought to NBC’s attention by American Idol producer Megan Michaels, whose father, David, is NBC’s producer for women’s gymnastics.
“He was watching the finale and saw me perform ‘Battles’ and thought that it may be a good song for the Olympics,” Renae recounts. “He just wanted it more Olympic sounding.”
And so Renae returned to the studio to re-record the song.
Fancy, a songwriter signed to Big Machine Records, tells Billboard that he was initially shocked to learn the song was a contender for the Olympics. “I got a phone call a couple weeks ago from Big Machine, from the same person who pitched the song to La’Porsha originally for Idol,” he says. “She was like, ‘Don’t say anything, but I think ‘Battles’ might be [used] for the Olympic gymnastics trials.’ I was thinking to myself: ‘That literally could not get any bigger.’”
But it is about to get bigger. The song will receive international exposure each time the team competes. It’s expected to be televised at least a dozen times.
This is all music to Fancy’s ears, who wrote the song as a tribute to the late Simone Battles, an X Factor contestant and former G.R.L. member who tragically took her own life in September 2014.
“He wrote it from a very sad and deep place,” adds Renae. “When people use their hurt and make a triumph in their song, that helps other people. There was a girl who messaged me and said she was on the verge of taking her life, then ‘Battles’ came on just in the nick of time. That’s the impact the song has on people, and it ministers to me as well. I love ‘Battles,’ and I love what it’s doing for people.”