Rolling Through 2023—A Musical Journey with the Soundtrack That Guided Us Through the Year (Profile)

As we approach the end of 2023, here at ICA we’re unwrapping the year and revisiting the songs and artists that left a lasting impact on our cycling classes. It’s a tradition at the end of the year to reflect on the successes and trends that have shaped the entire year.

Fern has crafted a profile that integrates songs that reflect some of the highlights from our music series this past year, including Mainstream Music Mondays, Friday Favorites, Trending Tracks, and Theme Ride Thursdays, along with some special mentions.

Two artists who dominated our attention throughout the year were Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, who consistently made headlines. Their influence extended beyond music, impacting the economy as obtaining tickets to their concerts became a formidable task unless one was willing to make a substantial investment.

Disney marked its 100th birthday, prompting us to pay tribute to the incredibly talented artists handpicked by Disney, including Miley Cyrus and Olivia Rodrigo, both featured in the playlist for this 2023 Unwrapped profile. Miley and Olivia treated us to albums in 2023 that resonated with instructors and riders around the world.

The sounds of música Mexicana claimed the number one spot on the Hit 100 with “Ella Baila Sola” by Eslabon Armado.

Noah Kahan became a household name, and Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance left us stunned. We’ll forever cherish the music Tina Turner created, as she will always be “Simply the Best.” Dolly Parton surprised us with something we didn’t know we needed—her album Rockstar, where she collaborated with music’s elite, breathing new life into beloved songs.

Several songs defined the summer, with Kylie Minogue embraced by the Gay Pride movement, Dua Lipa giving Barbie a dance anthem, and Billie Eilish prompting us to question our purpose. Olivia Rodrigo’s “vampire,” choreographed into this journey, remained on replay throughout the summer.

Profile: Rolling Through 2023—A Musical Journey with the Soundtrack That Guided Us Through the Year
Fern Stancer’s end-of-the-year profile is a rolling hills ride, filled with many of the impactful songs that shaped us through the past year. The profile is divided into three segments. Each segment has different climbing challenges, from very short, steep rollers (20- to 30-second uphills followed by quick downhills) to longer moderate-to-steep climbs. ICA members can download the profile and playlist below.

Background on the songs chosen for this profile

MY HOUSE, Beyoncé
Our musical exploration of 2023 kicks off with none other than Queen Bey, acknowledged by Forbes as one of the influential women shaping the world in 2023. Beyoncé secured the 23rd spot on the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women List, a substantial climb from her 80th position in 2022. The year proved monumental for Beyoncé, as she made history by becoming the most decorated artist at the Grammys with an impressive 32 wins. Her Renaissance Tour set a new record, grossing over $579 million—the highest ever by a Black artist. Beyoncé’s songs became viral sensations on TikTok, drawing fans from around the globe to witness her live performances, thereby significantly contributing to the economy. The New York Times estimated that her tour would generate approximately $4.5 billion for the US economy. In December, Bill Pierce featured the song “Break My Soul” from her Renaissance album as a Mainstream Music Monday track.

Cruel Summer, Taylor Swift
A dominant figure in pop culture, the 12-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift continued to make waves in 2023. Unsurprisingly, she earned the prestigious title of Time’s Person of the Year and claimed the top spot on People‘s list of the most intriguing individuals of the year. Swift’s global impact extended to electrifying stadiums and dominating the charts. Her record-breaking Eras Tour propelled her to billionaire status, and she secured the title of the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2023. In July, ICA highlighted her track “Cruel Summer” here, and Swift was also featured in Fern’s Guilty Pleasures profile and Jennifer’s Taylor Swift versus Rock ‘n’ Roll profile.

Let Me Down Easy, Daisy Jones & The Six
In 2023, one standout TV mini-series was Daisy Jones & The Six, featuring Riley Keough, the granddaughter of Elvis Presley. Notably, the show boasted an exceptional soundtrack reminiscent of the iconic Fleetwood Mac. Set against the backdrop of the 1970s Los Angeles music scene, the series chronicles the ascent of a rock band to global fame and delves into the reasons behind their eventual split at the peak of success. The show has earned two Golden Globe award nominations. ICA covered this song in our Trending Tracks series here.

Dial Drunk (with Post Malone), Noah Kahan
Eight years following Noah Kahan’s record deal signing as a high school senior, his third album, Stick Season, has positioned him as the next significant figure in the music scene. Achieving the remarkable feat of reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Rock and Alternative Album charts this year, the album has also garnered Noah a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. ICA featured the track “Dial Drunk” as a Mainstream Music Monday.

Better Be Good to Me, Tina Turner
In May, the legendary Tina Turner passed away at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness. Tina Turner’s music has been an enduring presence in indoor cycling classes globally for decades, and rightfully so. Using her commanding voice and timeless hits, instructors have seamlessly integrated her music to instill energy, motivation, and determination into every pedal stroke. This particular song holds a special place among Jennifer’s favorites, and you can explore her tribute ride to Tina Turner here.

Now And Then, The Beatles
In 2023, artificial intelligence (AI) gained significant attention as a buzzword. AI was used to create The Beatles’ latest single, “Now and Then,” utilizing AI technology to skillfully separate the diverse instruments and voices from an old recording. Before dismissing the authenticity of this song, it’s worth noting that John Lennon had a penchant for experimenting with recording technology. Consequently, this newly crafted Beatles composition has been warmly embraced. ICA celebrated The Beatles music in a Theme Ride Thursday here.

Ella Baila Sola, Eslabon Armado
This is the number one song on the Rolling Stone‘s Top 100 for 2023 and on the year-end Hot Latin Songs chart. After getting a boost on TikTok, “Ella Baila Sola” quickly dominated the charts, becoming a global number one on Spotify and landing in the Billboard Hot 100’s Top Five — the latter a history-making feat that only proves the full power of música Mexicana.

Padam Padam, Kylie Minogue
“Padam Padam” emerged as a standout summer anthem, a highly sought-after accolade among artists. Its infectious melody led to continuous playback, and the track also served as a resounding anthem in Pride parades worldwide. 

King, Years & Years
In May, England and the world celebrated the coronation of King Charles III. This past spring, Fern created a theme profile to celebrate this momentous occasion, filled with songs worthy of a king.

Flowers, Miley Cyrus
“Flowers” was the most streamed song on Spotify in 2023 with 1.6 billion streams. ICA profiled this song this past November. Fern also highlighted Miley Cyrus in her profile celebrating Disney’s 100th birthday.

Kill Bill, SZA
“Kill Bill” is the top song on Billboard‘s year-end R&B/hip-hop charts. SZA also leads the 2024 Grammy nominations. The remix of this track was covered by ICA here

Work, Rihanna (feat. Drake)
Rihanna took center stage at the 2023 Super Bowl, delivering the most-watched halftime show in history. Performing at the Super Bowl has become the pinnacle of mainstream validation and acceptance, representing the perfect fusion of sports and pop culture. Our song selection for the performance included Drake, who ranked among the top 10 global artists of 2023 according to Spotify. His latest album, For All the Dogs, featured collaborations with notable artists such as Bad Bunny, Yeat, SZA, 21 Savage, and J. Cole. Notably, the album’s artwork, featuring a dog, was crafted by Drake’s own son.

vampire, Olivia Rodrigo
“Vampire” reached the pinnacle of success, claiming the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning three Grammy nominations in 2024 for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. ICA highlighted “bad idea right?” from the same album by Rodrigo here. As a Disney artist, Rodrigo was highlighted in ICA’s Disney 100th birthday celebration profile by Fern.

Dance The Night, from Barbie the Album, Dua Lipa
The summer blockbuster movie Barbie made a significant impact, marking the return to theaters after the COVID era. The first track released from the Barbie soundtrack, “Dance The Night” swiftly became one of the most-played songs of the summer in 2023. Coinciding with the release of the movie Oppenheimer on the same weekend, a unique pop culture phenomenon emerged, humorously dubbed “Barbenheimer.” Notably, three songs from the Barbie soundtrack received Golden Globe nominations. ICA celebrated the success of “Dance the Night” in this Trending Tracks post.

Wrecking Ball, Dolly Parton
In November, Dolly Parton unveiled her inaugural rock album, featuring her renditions of some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll classics. Collaborating with a lineup of music’s elite, she delivered an album that the Guardian aptly described as an endless karaoke experience (though it wasn’t all praise for the album). Despite this critique, almost all the songs on the album can serve as energetic choices for indoor cycling classes. ICA highlighted “We Are the Champions” as a Mainstream Music Monday track from this album. 

Fast Car, Luke Combs
“Fast Car” by Luke Combs was one of the best covers of 2023 and won an award at the Country Music Awards for Single of the Year and Song of the Year. Luke Combs sang it, but Tracy Chapman wrote it in 1988—she was the first Black songwriter to win Song of the Year at the CMAs.

What Was I Made For? from the Motion Picture Barbie, Billie Eilish
Another notable track from the Barbie movie is “What Was I Made For?” This song delves into the profound inspiration drawn from Billie’s struggles to find her purpose in life. The meaning of the song can also be interpreted as reflecting Barbie’s spiritual journey to self-discovery in the real world, mirroring her experiences throughout the movie.

Download the profile and playlist below. We’d love to know how your riders enjoy this amazing playlist of current and relevant songs of 2023.

1 Comment

  1. I taught this profile a couple times as 2023 wound up and 2024 began. It’s terrific—fun and challenging. Even though I feel like a weird TV announcer, my riders love the bits of trivia I dish out for each song. And it’s got us even more excited for the Grammys ride, coming soon!
    I only changed a few songs, just for my own preference: Break My Soul instead of My House, We Found Love instead of Work, and (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction instead of Wrecking Ball.
    Thank you, Fern!

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