There are a lot of firsts at the just-launched 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Most notable, of course, is that the North Korean flag is flying over the Olympic village, which required special legal permission given the long-simmering tensions between the two nations. Also, athletes from both countries walked under a unified flag in the opening ceremony that took place early Friday morning (Feb. 9), which was a very big deal.
It was during those fireworks-splashed ceremonies that viewers got what is likely to be the first of many listens to one of South Korea’s biggest exports in the past decade: PSY’s global smash “Gangnam Style.” The inescapable 2012 hit was blasted in the Olympic stadium as the U.S. contingent made their way in, marking just one of the handful of K-Pop smashes that served as the evening’s soundtrack, which also included songs by K-pop stars Twice, Bigbang, BTS and Red Velvet.
Kpop songs used as background music at the Olympics during countries’ parade (in order):
• Gangnam Style — PSY
• Likey — Twice
• Fantastic Baby — Bigbang
• DNA (remix) — BTS
• Red Flavor — Red Velvet
— kim (@minsehoek) February 9, 2018
First Gangnam Style, and now Fantastic Baby as background music @ Olympics? We love legends of kpop
— kim (@minsehoek) February 9, 2018
The eye-popping ceremony filled with nods to South Korean culture and tradition also featured a group of South Korean singers including Jeon In-know singing a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and a sequence in which the stadium lit up with lasers as the Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town” blasted from the speakers.
But for our purposes, the most exciting change came on the very first night of competition on the ice rink, when the men’s short skating program featured the Winter Olympics debut of athletes skating to songs with lyrics and vocals. In the past skaters have typically relied on often staid instrumental versions of pop songs or a predictable list of opera and classical music warhorses. But this year the athletes can pick any song they want and the impact was clear immediately during Thursday night’s competition.
Among the musical highlights:
— 2018 German champion Paul Fentz got things started with a bang with his unusual musical selection: pop crooner Paul Anka‘s swinging cover of Oasis‘ “Wondewall.” The internet had some ideas about that.
I’M SORRY THERE’S A JAZZ VERSION OF WONDERWALL !?? Is there no hope for humanity pic.twitter.com/jZdc6TCUkY
— gillian (@brotatoee) February 9, 2018
Thank goodness for Olympic figure skating, otherwise I never would’ve heard that Paul Anka cover of “Wonderwall”
— Vince Mancini (@Filmdrunk) February 9, 2018
— Melissa Cravens (@melsbells1985) February 9, 2018
— 2014 Olympic silver medalist Canadian Patrick Chan took it super old school with a routine to Kansas‘ FM rock classic “Dust in the Wind,” which is where his chances seemed to go when he dinked his first quad jump.
— Allison Collister (@AlliJCollister) February 9, 2018
— All eyes were on U.S. hopeful and two-time U.S. champ Nathan Chen, who gave it his best to Benjamin Clementine‘s jazzy pop tune “Nemesis.” On this night, though, gravity would be the 18 year-old nemesis due to a couple major slips.
— cathy (@wasabigelatine) February 9, 2018
— After a predictable selection of classical and pop opera selections in the pair’s short program in the team competition, five-time French champion pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres brought a little heat thanks to Ed Sheeran‘s “Make it Rain,” which, if we’re not mistaken, represents Ed’s official Winter Olympics debut.
Now the #French #figureskating couple got my attention with their music. Make it Rain by @edsheeran. James and Cipres how about some #Prince in the individual event. #Olympics pic.twitter.com/uDSznVqdS1
— Khalid Pitts (@KhalidPitts) February 9, 2018