What music was Chloe Kim listening to during her gold-medal snowboard run?
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What music was Chloe Kim listening to during her gold-medal snowboard run?

All USA, United States Published date: February 13, 2018

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It might have been hard to tell through the hats and goggles and hair, but a few seconds before she dropped into the halfpipe for what would become her gold-medal run in Tuesday's halfpipe, American Chloe Kim adjusted the headphones she wears during her runs, thus leading to the natural question: What was she listening to?
When Kim visited Today later Tuesday, she was asked that very question and told Savannah Guthrie and Koda Hotb:
"I don't really remember. It's been such a huge blur. It could have been 'Paparazzi' by Lady Gaga. Or it could have been 'Toxic' by Britney Spears," Kim said. She also said it could have been something by Lana Del Rey.
Later, Kim told ESPN that the song playing on her victory lap was "MotorSport" by Migos, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, which is a much better answer (even though it comes with the same "parental language advisory" that should accompany all Red Gerard and Shaun White celebration).
She also changed her tune on her first-run listening, saying that now she was pretty sure it was "Paparazzi." Okay. If you want to take that statement at face value, then there it is. Chloe Kim, American Olympic champion, was getting down to Gaga and Migos, a perfect post-millennial combination.
But I'm not done. And neither should you. Let me invite you into my den of intrigue. Let's evaluate Kim's first statement, the one in which she played it up like she didn't remember which song was playing. Really? That either means Kim blacks out before throwing down one of the great snowboard runs in history (the Will Ferrell theory and completely unlikely) or that as an image-conscious 17-year-old making her first impression on most of America, she knew exactly what she was listening to but deemed it embarrassing.
Without knowing for sure, we can't speak in absolutes: But it's totally that last one. Without a doubt. We've all been teenagers. We know the pressures that come with the age. I remember being 17 and acting like I loved Sonic Youth when, in fact, I was just playing the Puff Daddy album on repeat. I get the same sense here.
But it's very telling that the songs she uses to establish her music credibility are a 15-year-old Britney Spears track and a 2009 single from Lady Gaga. (Or, as Kim calls them, "oldies.") Those are the songs she's deemed less shameful than whatever she was actually listening to.
As pop songs of the aughts go, "Toxic" and "Paparazzi" are among the better ones - good enough to make Kim's musical tastes seem at least a little refined. (I don't know about the Lana Del Rey namedrop; it's the equivalent of my faux fandom of Sonic Youth. Lana Del Rey is - whatever. She's fine. But nobody's listening to her before a snowboard run. You need hype music, not some hazy, ethereal, Pitchfork-approved emoting.)
So if our baselines are "Toxic" and "Paparazzi," then what song fits into that genre but isn't quite cool enough for the current coolest high schooler in the world to want to cop to listening? For some help, I went on Pandora and created a "Paparazzi" playlist. It went as follows:
"I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry -> "Just Dance (RedOneRemix)" by Lady Gaga -> "Part of Me" by Katy Perry -> "3" by Britney Spears -> "Die Young" by Sylvan Esso -> "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira -> "Only Girl (In the World)" by Rihanna -> "We R Who We R" by Kesha -> "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry -> "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga -> "Toxic" by Britney Spears.
It all came full circle. "Paparazzi" to "Toxic" in 11 steps. Is one of the songs in there? Tough to say. None of those tracks are very embarrassing. Maybe Katy Perry is no longer cool enough to rep? And why would a favorite listen to "Dark Horse" before a race anyway? Kesha would be an of-the-moment empowerment choice and one can never go wrong with Rihanna. Sylvan Esso has real street cred and Shakira is a worldwide advocate for hip-truth so she'd be a fine answer. Regardless, I can't help but feel we're on the wrong track, figuratively and literally.

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What if the song wasn't on that list, or any similar one, at all? Maybe it's all been a fake out? Could Chloe have been listening to a K-pop sog? Like anyone with two ears and a heart, Kim, who's parents were born in Korea, is into the country's pop scene. Her favorites are CL, Girls' Generation, f(x), SHINee and SuperJunior. While those bands are coming for the U.S. one day (it'll be a second British invasion), it's hard to sound relatable if you're listening to a band most people don't know. But, no, Kim could have helped break K-pop in the States if she'd call out SHINee. If she gained 100,000 Twitter followers in a night, imagine what she could do for a band's Spotify stats.
We've spun our wheels and gotten nowhere. For now - for now - we're going to accept Kim's assertion that she forgot what she was listening to and that it might have been Britney or Lady Gaga. But the truth always comes out. Always. And when it does, when a 17-year-old who was 10 years old back in 2010, right when one young man was coming to the forefront of pop music, finally reveals the song she had playing when she struck gold and superstardom in South Korea, after having hidden away the embarrassment for years, don't be surprised when the answer is this.

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      What music was Chloe Kim listening to during her gold-medal snowboard run?

      All USA, United States

      Chris Chase

      Published date: February 13, 2018

      Views: 5

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