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Gaga for Spin Mix (52 minutes)

I normally shy away from single artist playlists – there is too much chance of a total miss.  If someone made me spin to The Eagles for an hour, I’d be homicidal by the end of the class.  But I’ve been playing with this idea for a while and while her catalog is not large (only three albums), if there’s an artist out there who can support a full spin class of tunes, it’s Her Ladyship. 

I tried it with my class this week and asked for feedback.  The four riders who took the time to comment told me they really enjoyed it and I enjoyed the class, too.  What saves it from being too plain-old-FM-radio (I hope) are the remixes.

Hair – Lady GaGa (5:08): An upbeat warm up and one of GaGa’s lesser-known offerings.  (Yes, that’s Clarence Clemons on saxophone.)  Pick up the pace for each chorus and fall back for the verses.

Marry the Night – Lady GaGa (4:25):  Where has this song been?  It came out in May 2011 with GaGa’s latest record but I didn’t really pay much attention to it until it became a single in November 2011.  My mistake.  It’s a kick-ass sprinting tune.  Three intervals: 30/30/30 seconds at 0:42 – 1:11, 1:50 – 2:20 and 3:00 – 3:28.

I usually coach riders to take sprints in one of three ways: standing (hardest), seated, or as surges (seated, 80% maximum effort), depending on what they have to give.  They can choose which way to proceed for each interval.  Sometimes I will ask them to commit publicly: “Okay, hands up –  who is going to take the next interval standing?”

Telephone (Kaskade Extended Remix) – Lady GaGa & Beyonce (5:24):  A combo drill here.  For the first minute we are going to do 4 count jumps on a hill with resistance at 8/10.  From 1:30 to 4:00 we’ll come out of the saddle to climb, reducing the tension a bit for those who need to.  When we get to the last minute and a half, it’s 4 count jumps again.  No cheating and bailing early – we get a full minute to recover before the next working interval.

Born This Way – Lady GaGa (4:20):  More sprinting – 30/30/30.  These ones are at 0:58 – 1:28, 2:08 – 2:38 and 3:18 – 3:48.

Paparazzi (Demolition Crew Remix) – Lady GaGa (3:54):  Initially I had this one pegged as a seated climb with multiple tension increases but when I got to class I decided to do it as a single leg training drill: 60 seconds for each leg with a tension increase for the second set.  I think I liked that better than what I initially had planned.

With single-leg training, one leg does all the work and the other comes along for the ride.  I coach riders to consciously push down on the downstroke and pull up on the upstroke and to make their cadence as smooth as possible.  As for tension, I advise to choose a tension that makes riders mighty happy to see the end of the interval so they can switch legs.  It’s important with single-leg drills to ask riders not to remove the non-working foot from the pedal cage (some will do this and rest the foot on the crossbar).  With a weighted flywheel, this could result in a calf injury if the empty pedal swung around and hit the rider in the leg.

Just Dance (RedOne Remix) – Lady GaGa (4:19):  This was the first GaGa song that captivated me, and when I realized that she’d done a remix with Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall, I was, well, gaga.  The original version was released in April 2008 and by June 2008 I was using Just Dance in my classes.  Lady GaGa played in my home town of Halifax in July 2008 as one of the acts at the Summer Rush concert and I desperately wanted to go but had booked a week’s vacation in Prince Edward Island, a three hour drive away.  I could just tell that this New Yorker was going to be huge.  You know what?  I should have driven back to Halifax to see her.  I’d certainly drive three hours now.  This one is a standing climb, medium tension (say, 5/10), just you and the bike.  Close your eyes and let yourself go with the music.  (For an additional challenge, don’t take a break between this song and the next to make a 10 minute hill.)

LoveGame (Chew Fu Ghettohouse Fix) – Lady GaGa [feat. Marilyn Manson] (5:21):  The second half of this hill.  Increase the tension to 7/10 or 70% of your maximum effort.  Alternate a regular climbing stance with a more aggressive stance – hips back and up, shoulders down.  You can do 30 seconds of each, or try 15/30/45/60 of each.

Poker Face – Lady GaGa (3:57): Take the tension back down to 6/10 and get ready for some jumps. 8 counts for 1:30, 4 counts for 1:30, then 2 counts to the end (about 1:00).

The Edge of Glory – Lady GaGa (5:21):  I know, I am getting far too predictable here.  How could any all-GaGa spin playlist not finish with this one?  A combo-drill: standing climb for the verses, sprints (standing if you still have the juice) for the choruses.  The sprints are 30/30/60 seconds and you’ll find them at 1:04 – 1:34, 2:28 – 2:58 and 4:02 – 5:02.  This song always leaves riders sucking wind in a very satisfying way.

Bad Romance – Lady GaGa (4:54):  At last.  Cool down music.  I confess, Bad Romance is not my favourite GaGa tune.  She sounds as if she’s singing with a mouth full of marbles.  So if you want to run Alejandro first and finish up with You and I (5:07), I wouldn’t blame you a bit.

Alejandro – Lady GaGa (4:34):  Perfect cool down energy for some stretching and goodbye music.

Have you ever done a single artist playlist?  Which artist?  And how did it go?



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Spinning Music’s Top 5 Playlists of 2011

Each year, I list the playlists from the previous year that garnered the most page views.  But you know what?  By far the most popular playlists on the blog are the ones that readers post.  The Reader Playlist page saw 25,784 views in 2011, more than any other playlist.

1.  Gonna Make You Sweat Spin Mix (43 minutes) – 25,524 views (the #1 playlist every year.  Could it have something to do with the title?  Last year it got even more views.)

2.  Best of 2010 Spin Mix Version 2 (45 minutes) – 7,682 views (new!)

3.  Give Me Everything Spin Mix (75 minutes) – 7,658 views (new!)

4.  Best of 2010 Spin Mix (47 minutes) – 5,730 views (new!)

5.  Rock ‘n Roll Spin Mix (43 minutes) – 4,711 views (the #2 playlist in 2009 and #3 in 2010)



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Spinning Music’s Top 25 Spinning Tunes of 2011

Happy New Year!  Here is Spinning Music’s fourth annual list of the top 25 spinning tunes of the year.  It was a great year for music with lots to choose from.  Lady GaGa cleaned up this year with three entries, while Rihanna, David Guetta, and Flo Rida all scored two.  Adam Levine of Maroon 5 was close behind with one song of his own and featured in another.  Regular readers know that I have a huge soft spot for Canadian artists, and five of the artists on this year’s list hail (as I do) from Canada.  You can find all 25 songs in one playlist on iTunes Ping – my handle there is Spinning Music.

It was a great year here at Spinning Music, too.  Traffic mushroomed to 640,000 views this year (about 1,750 per day) and surpassed 1,000,000 all-time views over Labour Day weekend in September 2011.  The blog accumulated another 250,000 views in the last four months of 2011 – more traffic than it attracted in 2008 and 2009 put together.  344 people now follow the blog, plus more than 1,000 who follow on Ping.

A huge thank you to everyone who visited or took the time to comment or ask a question or post a ride in 2011.  You’ve helped me create a welcoming community of individuals from every continent except Antarctica, bonded by our passion for indoor cycling.  I love hearing what you’re spinning to.  I especially want to thank J.R. Atwood over at www.spinningmixes.wordpress.com and David McQuillen over at The Sufferfest for being the top two referring sites for this blog.  I also want to give a big shout out to Judy, Dana, Ellis Rutherford, Carsten, and Lisa, the top five contributors to the blog for 2011.  Thank you!

Big changes are afoot for Spinning Music in 2012.  I am planning a move to a dedicated domain and have enlisted someone far more tech-savvy than me to spiff up the blog and really make it shine.  The reader playlist page and Bike Cafe will become forums (no more crashes due to too many comments!), there will be more searchability, and (one of my 2012 resolutions) more posts.  I’d like to hear from you.  Is there anything else you’d like to see?

Here we go, the top 25 spinning tunes of 2011…

1.  The Edge of Glory – Lady GaGa (was there ever any doubt that this is the best spinning song of the year?  A gorgeous combo of climbing for the versus and sprinting for the choruses.  Even when I think I’m utterly spent, I find a little more juice when I hear this song.  GaGa wrote it about the death of her grandfather in 2010 and the late Clarence Clemons contributed a wonderful sax solo).

2.  We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris) – Rihanna (another great climbing song, this one had to grow on me but it deserves the #2 spot.  I never tire of it).

3.  Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 (more climbing.  A great year for Levine.  He had a huge hit with this song, a regular TV gig as a judge on The Voice, and featured on Stereo Hearts, another great tune).

4.  Sweat (Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta) – Snoop Dogg and David Guetta (still more climbing).

5.  Sexy and I Know It – LMFAO (nobody had more fun in 2011 than the dudes in LMFAO and this is a perfect, light-hearted start for a spin class that also works for jumps).

6.  Rolling in the Deep – Adele (2011 was Adele’s year, no question.  Her album 21 went to #1 in 18 countries and created all sorts of records, including a match for one previously held by the Beatles.  She’s uber-talented, but most of her music isn’t really suited for spinning.  Rolling in the Deep works as an energetic warmup, thanks to the drumbeat.  A confession: her other huge hit, Someone Like You, is gorgeous, but the lyrics veer too close to pathetic stalkery self-absorbtion for me to be able to enjoy it.  I recogize I am in the minority on this one).

7.  S&M – Rihanna (more climbing, with jumps at the chorus.  This one also gets the prize for being the FM radio hit you least want your kids to sing along to).

8.  Jet Lag (feat. Natasha Bedingfield) – Simple Plan (a sprinting song with sweet pop deliciousness, plus they hail from Montreal, Canada.).

9.  Tonight Tonight – Hot Chelle Rae (jumps.  Pure pop perfection).

10.  Niton (The Reason) [Radio Edit] – Eric Prydz (I couldn’t get enough of this tempo drill; extended mixes take it as long as 8 minutes).

11.  Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay (another gorgeous climbing song from Coldplay, but it can’t top 2008’s Viva La Vida, which is one of my favourite spinning songs of all-time).

12.  Marry the Night – Lady GaGa (despite being a huge GaGa fan, I only discovered this song recently.  A great sprinting tune).

13.  Born this Way – Lady GaGa (more sprints).

14.  Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-Yo) – Pitbull (gorgeous cool down energy).

15.  Brand New Chick – Anjulie (a versatile tune that works for climbing or jumps, and the artist even hails from my home town of Oakville, Ontario).

16.  Mr. Saxobeat (Radio Edit) – Alexandra Stan (another versatile tune that works as a warm up, climb or tempo drill from Romanian artist Stan.  The song has done well in Europe, Australia and North America).

17.  Good Feeling – Flo Rida (great for climbing or jumps).

18.  Where Them Girls At (feat. Nicki Minaj) – David Guetta, Flo Rida & Nicki Minaj (another climb).

19.  Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People (the underdog of the year.  Dark, dark lyrics disguised in a catchy pop riff – like finding a razor blade in your cotton candy).

20.  Beautiful People – Chris Brown (fantastic warm up energy).

21. Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You) [feat. Ludacris] – Enrique Iglesias (the original version is cocky… and filthy.  A great song for jumps).

22.  When We Stand Together – Nickelback (double-time jumps make this one of the toughest jumping songs I’ve ever used, plus the band hails from Alberta, Canada).

23.  Haven’t Had Enough – Marianas Trench (a jumping song from this Vancouver, Canada band).

24.  Invincible – Hedley (inspiring lyrics for this seated grind of a climb by British Columbia rockers, Hedley.  Trivia: the lead singer was a contestant on Canadian Idol in 2004-05 but dropped out near the end).

25.  Stereo Hearts (feat. Adam Levine) – Gym Class Heroes (a perfect cool down song).

Well, did I get it right?  You might quibble with the order (I quibble with it myself – every time I pulled up this draft post, I moved something around).  Did I leave out any of your favourites?

If you follow the charts there probably weren’t many surprises on this list – all of these songs did very well in 2011.  For a more eclectic list of great spinning songs (not limited to songs that came out in 2011), check out ICI Pro Indoor Cycling 2.0‘s blog post here.