11/02/2014 10:55 EST | Updated 01/02/2015 05:59 EST

Kate Bush and Lana del Rey on Skate Canada's playlist as skaters embrace lyrics

KELOWNA, B.C. - Eric Radford has heard the crowd singing along to the lyrics for his short program — "C'est beau! C'est beau!"

Music with lyrics is permitted this season in singles and pairs figure skating for the first time, and Canada's top pairs team Radford and Meagan Duhamel are among numerous skaters who feel it's about time.

"I think both of our programs do a really good job of using the lyrics to our benefit, as opposed as us skating to a song," Radford said. "When you have lyrics, sometimes the lyrics become the centrepiece, and you're skating to them, as opposed to them supporting the skating.

"It was kind of risky. . . there's been kind of a mixed response when it comes to the public. Me personally, when I skate to it, I feel uplifted by it. I don't feel like Ginette (French-Canadian singer Reno) ever drowns out our skating."

The two-time world bronze medallists skate their short program to Reno's "Un peu plus haut," and their long program to a Muse medley.

The introduction of lyrics was meant to inject some life into the sport's tired playlist.

"It makes it accessible to a younger audience," said Marie-France Dubreuil, a two-time world ice dance silver medallist, who's now a coach and choreographer.

On the playlist at Skate Canada International that wrapped up Sunday: "Stray Cat Strut," "Cell Block Tango" from the Broadway musical "Chicago," Kenny Loggins' "Footloose," "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush, "Back to Black" by Beyonce and Andre 3000, and Lana del Rey's "Young and Beautiful."

Javier Fernandez of Spain skated his short program to "Black Betty" by '70s rockers Ram Jam.

"You have to be smart with the lyrics, that's our thing," said Fernandez, who lives in Toronto and is coached by Brian Orser. "If you put all the program with lyrics, maybe it's a little bit too much.

"It's something new so it's always good to add it, so I think a good amount of lyrics, if it's the right song, is always good."

Not everyone is a fan. The music for Kevin Reynolds' short program is an instrumental selection of AC/DC songs.

"I'm personally against lyrics in singles skating and pairs skating," said the Coquitlam, B.C., skater. "I think it does work in dance with the emotional connection you get between two partners. But I feel like it's something that belongs in an exhibition piece."

Others have embraced the International Skating Union's move to modernize the sport, saying it was too long coming.

"When the rule first came out, I thought 'Is that going to be good?' Then I thought, 'Let's move on with this sport, because everyone's going to start using it,'" said Liam Firus of North Vancouver, B.C. — his long program is to "Moulin Rouge."

Even pre-lyrics, music helped create lasting images in the sport — Kurt Browning in his white tux and bow tie in his "Casablanca" program, Britain's Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean's "Bolero," Jamie Sale and David Pelletier's "Love Story."

Lyrics add an entirely new element.

Duhamel pointed out that there's a moment in their pairs short program that Radford is about to throw her and Reno is singing "Je ne tombe pas!" ("I do not fall!")

"I always get distracted going in," Duhamel said. "I think oh my god, it's going to look so stupid if I fall right now."