After watching hundreds of gymnastics floor routines and hearing a plethora of floor music, I’ve learned what makes quality floor music. Sometimes I’ll listen to a song and suddenly think, ”This would be good floor music!” In case you’re unfamiliar with the dos and don’ts of floor music, floor routines last 1:30, and the floor music cannot have words. That means no lyrics and singing. However, there can be vocals.
What I think makes good floor music is that it sounds cohesive but doesn’t all sound the same. It should definitely not sound like you smashed different pieces of music together. There should be some sort of change in the tempo or the vibe of the music at some point (preferably a few times). While the gymnast is tumbling, the music is usually quicker, louder, or just more dramatic. When the gymnast is in between passes, the music typically contrasts with what plays during passes.
Good floor music is also something you can perform to. If the artist(s) of the song would just stand there to perform it, it probably wouldn’t be the best floor music. After all, a quality floor routine is not just tumbling passes and leaps; it’s a full out performance. Because of that, I could see a lot of Broadway/musical theatre songs used as floor music. Sarah Edwards of LSU actually had musical theatre/Broadway medley floor music―using music from West Side Story, Hairspray, and Annie―but that wasn’t the best example of Broadway floor music, because it was literally three different pieces of music mashed together that didn’t flow.
I’m no expert, but I made a list of some Broadway show tunes I think would work well as floor music. (I did my best to find instrumental versions since floor music can’t have lyrics, but I couldn’t find them for all.)
Newsies: The Broadway Musical
One of my favorite things about Newsies is the choreography. It has some of the best choreography I have ever seen in a musical (though I’ve only seen a few). I love it. So naturally, this musical has songs that are made for dancing and performing.
“Seize the Day”
The beginning of this song is not meant for performing to, but after 2 minutes or so, it picks up from there. The layers of instruments being played really add to the performance quality of it. At about 3:10, the music mellows for about 15 seconds and goes back and forth a bit. But the music at 4:28 is great, high-energy music to tumble or dance to. Bonus points for doing the Newsies leap or ending the floor routine with a fist in the air like the Newsies do in the show.
“King of New York”
This part of the musical is just a big dance number, and what makes it really fun is that it features tap dancing, so there’s a lot of fun beats and rhythms that could be cool to choreograph to. After all, I’ve never heard actual taps in floor music before, so I’d be interested in seeing what choreographers could come up with for a floor routine. The chorus is bigger and more theatrical in its sound while the rest of it is mostly softer, so there’s a nice variety of music that would make some pretty good floor music.
The songs I chose from this revolutionary musical aren’t as theatrical or show tune-like compared to the rest of the ones in this post, so these would be good for more elegant routines. But of course, since Hamilton is a hip-hop musical, both of these songs have an urban element to them that makes them unique and different from other floor music that has a piano base.
I love the contrast between the piano and the snapping. The snapping makes it easy for the crowd to clap along to the music, which often happens with floor music when attending meets. The contrast creates a classic yet modern sound, and it sounds even better toward the end when other instruments start to come in and everything heightens. There’s great potential for an awesome ending pose with this one (ideally, the Hamilton pose).
The beginning of this is more hip-hop than “Alexander Hamilton” but still has a bit of a classic sound later on when the tempo slows. I can see the music during the chorus (from about 1:20-1:40) being great transition music in between tumbling passes, perhaps during the longer break where the gymnast does more choreo to garner up the energy for the final pass. The part beginning at about 4:00 provides a nice mellow sound with drum beats that would contrast well with the music at the start of the song. Like my other Hamilton choice, I love the music at the end where it becomes more dramatic and slows down into the final note. Again, brownie points for ending with the Hamilton pose in a routine using this music.
“The Night They Invented Champagne”
The beginning of the chorus is more mellow compared to the rest of the song and would work well for less theatrical choreography―maybe a dance series and tumbling transition? There’s also an instrumental part in the middle that would be nice floor music if you don’t care to use any other part of the song. It’s got enough substance and differentiation within it so it doesn’t get boring.
The entire song is full of contrasting music. It starts very theatrical and kind of quirky and is then juxtaposed with very mellow music that feels like music you’d hear in a movie when someone’s happily strolling through a park. So there are a lot of opportunities with this music in terms of choreography and performance. The very energetic theatrical music would be great for during tumbling passes.
While this isn’t perfect for floor music, I think it has potential. I definitely think it would need to be edited or rearranged in terms of which parts come first (or are even included at all) because the beginning doesn’t sound like a good start for floor music to me, but I can definitely see the parts where more instruments start to come in and play be used as floor music.
Legally Blonde: The Musical
“Omigod You Guys”
Yes, that is the actual name of this song. (What did you expect? It’s Legally Blonde!) This would be such fun floor music. It’s peppy, fun, and energetic throughout, but there are more relaxed parts in there as well. Around the 2:00 mark, there’s a change in tempo where I could see choreography really shine in a floor routine to this.
Bring It On: The Musical
“It’s All Happening”
This song has a cool fusion thing going on, combining some hip-hop beats combined with more classical, traditional sounds. I’m not the biggest fan of the first part of this music, but it could still be used in floor music; the start maybe just isn’t the place for it. I really like how it sounds starting around 0:20.
Bonnie & Clyde
“Raise a Little Hell”
Since this is from Bonnie & Clyde, this particular music would work so well with a western themed floor routine. It sounds the same for the first 50 seconds or so, but after that, different sounds start to come in. At 1:37, this rhythmic, repetitive beat starts that would be perfect for some choreography to steal the show. It would be awesome to see a storytelling floor routine use the ending, which starts around 2:43, to finish the routine.