Theme Ride Thursday: International Music Day

Did you know that International Music Day falls on September 21? There is also a World Music Day on June 21st!

In our world of indoor cycling, celebrating music is a daily occurrence as we craft quality playlists for our sessions. It’s what we do best, right?

Nevertheless, this special day provides us with a unique opportunity to take our music appreciation to the next level. Why not seize this musical “holiday” to showcase the sheer beauty of music? You could delve into songs with lyrics that revolve around the magic of music itself, or spotlight various instruments that make the melodies come alive. It’s also a fantastic chance to venture into uncharted musical territories, introducing your riders to genres they may not have explored before. Show them that the world of music extends far beyond the realms of pop and rock!

Over the past 12 years, here at the Indoor Cycling Association, we’ve been dedicated to sharing ways for instructors all over the globe to harness the power and message of music. For our ICA members, we’ve curated numerous profiles and playlists centered around music themes. 

Below, you’ll find some ideas on how to celebrate International Music Day—365 days a year!

Here are some ideas of musical themes you can use to create interesting and fun playlists:

  • A playlist of songs with lyrics about music and singing. Some ideas are “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna, “When I Sing” by NEEDTOBREATHE, and “I Love Music” by the O’Jays. (See the ICA bucket playlist below with ~160 songs.) 
  • Lyrics that focus on the beat, rhythm, or other musical ideas. Examples are “Chained to the Rhythm“ by Katy Perry, “Rockin’ to the Beat” by Black Eyed Peas, and “Rhythm is a Dancer” by SNAP! (See the ICA bucket playlist below with ~60 songs.) 
  • Songs based on guitars. April is International Guitar Month, but you can ride to a guitar theme any time of the year! In this post, I give you numerous suggestions for guitar-heavy songs. There are two bucket playlists with almost 300 songs to choose from. Plus, you’ll find an awesome profile already created for you called “In Celebration of Guitars.” 
  • Songs based on drums. May is International Drum Month. In this post, I give you 12 different super-drumming songs with suggestions on what to do with them. ICA members will find a drumming bucket playlist with over 150 songs that are great for your cycling classes. There is also a climbing profile ready for you to use. 
  • Songs based on piano. September is International Piano Month. Artists that use a lot of piano in their songs include Elton John, Billy Joel, Brice Springsteen, Supertramp, Coldplay, Adele, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Seger, The Police, Queen, Florence and the Machine, and so many more. My absolute favorite piano songs for indoor cycling classes are “Uncertain Smile” by The The and “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers Band. 
  • Songs based on saxophone. We have a bucket playlist with 130 songs for your sexy sax profile. 

Here are a few songs to add to your playlists based on some of the ideas above:

The Music, Jake Tarry, 2:30, 126 bpm.
Instructors and riders alike can identify with the lyrics: “If it wasn’t for the music, I don’t know what I’d do”! 


A Really Cool Dance Song, Bowling for Soup, 3:44, 141 bpm
Bowling for Soup is known for silly lyrics and these lyrics don’t disappoint!


We Got the Beat, The Go-Gos, 2:31, 151 bpm
This song is a must-have for any playlist about the beat or rhythm of the music!


Music Matters 2.0 (Axwell Remix), Faithless, 8:23, 128 bpm
A long climb to think about how the music really matters! 


Exploring Different Genres of Music
In the world of indoor cycling, it’s easy for instructors to fall into a pattern of playing the same genre of music over and over again. Often, we assume that our riders have a particular penchant for pop or rock tunes. For instance, in my experience, a significant number of my regular riders have a strong affinity for classic rock, and I take delight in pleasing them by incorporating their favorite tracks. Nevertheless, I’ve found that adding diversity to my playlists makes the profile more interesting and garners rave reviews from participants. I’ve even created a profile that celebrates a different genre on each of four climbs (plus the warm-up and cool-down). You can find that profile called Four Climbs—A Celebration of Musical Genres here

I’ll be the first to admit that I once held firm to my limited musical preferences and was quite resolute in my choices. Back then, you could hardly catch me playing mainstream pop tunes, as I leaned heavily into genres such as house, club, dance, world beat, and various electronic styles. Occasionally, I’d throw in some classic rock or 1980s alternative for good measure. I even went as far as vowing never to include country or hip-hop in my playlists, and the thought of playing a Top 40 hit was, in my mind, out of the question. Or so I thought.

About a decade ago, a transformative shift occurred in my thinking, thanks to the incredible music contributors here at ICA and the inspiring songs they were sharing. I realized the folly of my narrow-mindedness and decided to embrace more musical diversity. This revelation opened my eyes and broadened my horizons to an extraordinary world of diverse musical genres that I had never explored before—at least not in my cycling classes.

I discovered that country music could be surprisingly fun and lighthearted, offering tempos perfectly suited for fast flat segments. Hip-hop tracks, with their cadences often in the 80s and 90s rpm range, definitely complemented our pedaling. Indie artists were carving out significant spaces in the music industry, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that many mainstream pop songs were not only well suited for indoor cycling classes but were (usually) much-loved by participants.

Breaking free from the constraints of musical rigidity not only expanded my passion for indoor cycling but also enhanced the experience for my riders. Embracing a rich tapestry of musical genres will add depth and excitement to your classes, keeping everyone engaged and motivated. So, don’t be afraid to explore the wide world of music in your indoor cycling sessions—you might just discover a whole new dimension to your classes!

Here at the Indoor Cycling Association, we have worked hard to expose instructors to new or different genres of music to help you expand your musical offerings in your classes. With this endeavor in mind, we have a series called “Step Outside Your Musical Box” (SOYMB). For each genre, we provide a bucket playlist with dozens to hundreds of songs, and give you suggestions on what to do to a handful of our favorites. You can explore the many SOYMB posts we’ve had over the years by perusing the articles in this link. They include the following genres and categories: country, old-school hip-hop, indie, downtempo, emo, movie soundtracks, and Canadian artists. (We have more SOYMB on the way.)  

So there you have it, numerous ways to celebrate International Music Day or just to expand your own appreciation of music in your cycling classes. Be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any additional ideas to celebrate music. 

Below you will find our two bucket playlists with songs about music and singing (~160 songs) and songs about rhythm and beat (~50 songs).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *