SALT LAKE CITY — If the Arizona-based musical group Cinematic Pop was struggling to find its niche, the 2018 Winter Olympics has provided a solution.
As LDS composer and arranger Rob Gardner joked in an interview with the Deseret News, the ensemble’s classical music twist on pop and rock songs seems to resonate well with one group in particular: “very good figure skaters."
In the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, skater Vincent Zhou — the youngest U.S. Olympian at 17 — performed a routine to Snow Patrol’s 2006 hit song “Chasing Cars.” At least, it said "Snow Patrol" on the TV screen, but the song was actually Cinematic Pop’s cover of it, arranged by Gardner, that was getting playtime as Zhou blazed across the ice.
Zhou, a skater from Palo Alto, California, qualified for the Olympics and took the song with him to Pyeongchang, making history Thursday as he landed the first-ever quadruple lutz in the Winter Olympics.
“It’s cool to be able to be a part of that in a small way,” Gardner said. "That the music we did inspired him to do the routine at least to some extent.”
Gardner's arrangement of the song features LDS singer and Cinematic Pop member Spencer Jones, who shared with the Deseret News his surprise over the song's inclusion in the Olympics.
"It was an extremely surreal feeling when I realized that our cover had been heard around the world,” Jones said, jokingly adding, “I felt like I was helping him spin round and round.”
Gardner still has no idea how Zhou came across his arrangement of the song, but the figure skater reached out to him Friday morning via a Twitter message to express his gratitude.
“Thank you so much for the wonderful music that has carried me all season and to the Olympics!” Zhou wrote in a message.
“We were definitely honored and thought it was really cool that he had used the music,” Gardner said. “If (my) music isn’t reaching people emotionally … then I feel like I’ve failed. For me, that’s the whole point of making music is to make people feel something. … When someone has heard (music) and it makes them feel enough to have them say, ‘I’m going to use this to do my potentially Olympic routine’ — that’s awesome. And then they get to take that to an audience, and their artistic performance adds to our performance and the whole arena is moved … it’s really cool to see it happening.”
But Cinematic Pop’s contribution to the Winter Olympics doesn’t end there. Thursday, Australian figure skater Brendan Kerry used the group’s cover of Tears for Fears' “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” for his routine that received a score of 83.06 — a new season bestthat guaranteed he would move on to the free skate event.
Although Gardner has felt rewarded by his music receiving recognition on such a wide national and international scale in the Winter Olympics, the composer admits it would be nice for Cinematic Pop to be credited for its covers. But even without being credited, fans old and new are giving Cinematic Pop some attention.
“The internet makes it easy enough for that now, so if (people) dig deep enough they’re going to find it — just like the skaters did.”
The International Skating Union decided to allow lyrics in all figure skating performances following the 2014 Sochi Games, making this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang the first time in the event’s history that skaters have free rein in their musical selections. Here are some of the additional covers that have made it into the Olympic realm so far:
“With or Without You,” U2 cover by April Meservy
Canadian pairs figure skaters Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel, who won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics Games in Sochi, performed to Provo resident April Meservy’s U2 cover at this year’s Winter Olympic Games, helping them win a bronze medal on Wednesday.
“Wonderwall,” Oasis cover by Paul Anka
Paul Fentz, a figure skater representing Germany, selected Paul Anka’s jazzy take on the Oasis song “Wonderwall” to accompany his routine.
“Sound of Silence,” Simon and Garfunkel cover by Disturbed
French pairs figure skaters Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres selected a popular cover of the 1964 Simon and Garfunkel song for their routine: Heavy metal/hard rock band Disturbed’s haunting rendition of “Sound of Silence.”
“Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen covers by K.D. Lang and Jeff Buckley
Chinese pairs skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong performed a routine set to K.D. Lang's cover of the Leonard Cohen classic "Hallelujah," which earned them 82.39 points. The pair previously performed its “Hallelujah” routine at the 2017 Cup of China.
Canadian skater and nine-time champion Patrick Chan also selected “Hallelujah” for his routine, choosing what is arguably the song’s definitive version as performed by Jeff Buckley.
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” Tears for Fears cover by Lorde
Canada’s Olympic figure skating team, Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, performed to Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to The Rule The World” during the pairs short program. Lorde’s rendition appeared on the 2013 soundtrack to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and is drastically different in style from the 1985 original.
“Make it Rain,” Foy Vance cover by Ed Sheeran
French pairs figure skaters Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, in their second Olympics game as a pair team, selected Ed Sheeran’s cover of the blusey “Make it Rain,” a song by Northern Irish musician Foy Vance.
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” The Proclaimers cover in “Sunshine on Leith”
The Austrian pairs figure skaters Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer performed to the popular song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” for their short program. Rather than going with the pop-infused original, the team selected a much slower rendition used in the 2013 British musical film “Sunshine on Leith.”