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When classical music met pop music…

When the classical composers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and others wrote their compositions, they probably did not think about pop music. In fact, their music seems to be quite different from the modern pop music. Two worlds that will never meet? Well, not exactly…


Beethoven probably would have turned in his grave…

One of the best known classical tunes probably is The Fifth Symphony by Beethoven. At least the beginning is iconic: ta-ta-ta-taaa…No wonder that it made its way to pop music. Walter Murphy used the whole song, and made a disco version out of it (which can also be heard in Saturday Night Fever), calling it A Fifth Of Beethoven. However, the first tunes are most used in pop music. Thicke (now Robin Thicke) used them to introduce his song When I Get You Alone. And the Electric Light Orchestra used them to make Roll Over Beethoven (original by Chuck Berry) some longer. Actually, they really rolled over Beethoven.

Listening to classical music inspired several artists. Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane listened to the Bolero from Ravel a few times, and wrote White Rabbit with the Bolero in her mind. If you listen closely to the song, you will hear the structure of the Bolero in it. It’s also no secret that Procul Harum used a part of Bach’s Air on the G-string for their composition A Whiter Shade Of Pale. Gary Brooker had been listening to a lot of classical music, and that’s why the text seemed to fit Bach’s song. A sort of combining, you could say. The same happened to Eric Carmen, who wrote All By Myself in small parts. As he was listening to Rachmaninoff, he thought it was useful for the verse. The only problem he encountered, was that the used part from the second piano concerto was not available in the public domain, as it was written in 1901. Luckily, he could make an arrangement with the Rachmaninoff estate to ensure it still could be used…

However, it is possible to copy entire melodies for your songs. The best example probably is Elvis Presley, who did it a few times. Love Me Tender, for example, was subject of copying: it used the melody of the traditional Aura Lee. Also the classical (Venetian) composition O Sole Mio was used. As Elvis heard it, he wanted an English text written for it, so he could record it. This song was called It’s Now Or Never, which brought Elvis to number 1.

There are, however, several less obvious cases. One of them is Alejandro by Lady Gaga. She used a part of Vittorio Monti’s Csárdás. It’s mainly inspired by the violin, which can be heard in the opening of the song. It proceeds throughout the rest of the song, though the dance beat is put over it. However, listen closely and you will hear Vittorio Monti’s composition. Another case of a dance beat which covers the classical music are the Pet Shop Boys with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. They can be heard in All Over The World, but they are hidden quite well. Try if you can discover them… More disco music: I Love Your Smile by Shanice is said to use a small part of Arabesque No. 1 (Claude Debussy).

A favourite to use is Pachebel’s Canon in D Major. The descending cords can be heard clearly in All Together Now by the Farm, starting right at the start and playing through the complete song. The same composition was used by Stock, Aitken and Waterman for Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky. Another composition that Stock, Aitken and Waterman used for their songs is Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner. Its strings are used in You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead Or Alive…


Bach, the Beatles: doesn’t differ a lot…

Quite some music of the Beatles was inspired by classical compositions. Quite clear is the use of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, at the beginning of All You Need Is Love. A little less obvious are the instrumental parts at the end of the song: Glenn Miller’s In The Mood and Greensleeves (variations of Bach). Bach also inspired Penny Lane. Paul McCartney got the idea of adding a trumpet to the song after listening to the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2… More Bach: In Blackbird the guitar was inspired by Bourrée in E minor for lute. Especially the first four bars were used in the song. Also Beethoven was used for one of their songs: John Lennon heard Yoko Ono playing Moonlight Sonata, asked her to play it backwards, and as she did that, he wrote the rest of the song around it…

Of the great composers, Mozart has been missing. However, his Piano Concerto no. 21 has been used by Neil Diamond in Song Sung Blue. Probably a little more energetic than Mozart had meant it, and certainly not the thing Mozart ever could imagine, but it would be one of the biggest hits for Neil Diamond. Also a big hit, but some closer to the original: the song Russians by Sting. Writing about the tension between the USA and the USSR, Sting used Sergei Prokofiev’s Romance melody from the Lieutenant Kije Suite to accompagny his message. A last one, probably one you wouldn’t expect: Brahms in Silent Lucidity by Queensrÿche! His composition Lullaby can be heard in the song, played on a cello around 5 minutes and 26 seconds.

Of course, there are many more examples to name. Please don’t hesitate to leave your suggestions (pop and classical composition)!

Song of the day: Lois Lane- It’s The First Time


I woke up this morning with the total lyrics of this song in my head, including the music and the intro. I have strange moods, sometimes, and I can’t tell why it was just this song. However, their album, which is on CD at home, is a very good album, although it only has 6 songs on it. One of these songs, the first one, is the song which was one of their biggest hits. In the nineties, they had another big hit, but they never had as much success as with their first album, which featured a lot of hits. Enjoy

Loïs Lane (In America Loïs L.)- It’s The First Time


U2 photographed by John Wright

With a new album coming up and new hits on the radio, it would be a good time to finally place U2 in the Hall Of Fame. If we’re looking to one of the greatest bands from the last centuries, I would probably go for them. Their album ‘The Joshua Tree’ was a full hit album, with great songs like ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. Their music was good from the beginning on, and the quality was high in every album. In the nineties they had a very good song, One, the zeroes had Magnificent, and Ordinary Love is one of the biggest hits in the 2010s. I can’t wait to hear their new album, and for their work which they have already done, they are granted a place in the Hall Of Fame! Carry on!

Song of the day: Oasis- Wonderwall


A nineties classic today! These two brothers made some amazing records, and after that they didn’t want to work together anymore after they had a fight. End of the band, goodbye good music! Fortunately, we have their old records, and maybe (wishful thinking) they will come back in some years if they have decided they can go on tour again together… For today, the programme is as follows: we listen to one of their biggest hits, namely:

Oasis- Wonderwall

Song of the day: Supertramp- It’s Raining Again


Yes! A saxophone song by Supertramp! It’s one of the reasons why I’m a fan of Supertramp. Because almost all their songs feature a saxophone! The text is applicable for the autumn, and especially for these days: rain, rain, nothing like the rain. But that’s another story, probably for some other time. Supertramp had their hits in the eighties, and they made quite a lot. If it would be possible, I would love to see them sometime live! Probably wishful thinking… The nice thing about this song is that it has some sort of lullaby in it, the childrens rhyme: “it’s raining, it’s raining”. I like that twist in the song! So for today, enjoy this rainy song:

Supertramp- It’s Raining Again

Summer Song of the Day #16: DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince- Summertime


Yes, more classics on their way. Again nineties, and this time made by a duo. One of the two is Will Smith, the Fresh Prince.
I did not know this until I was looking for the greatest hits of Will Smith (I wanted a CD with Miami, Gettin’ Jiggy With It, etc.), and there were songs of DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince on the CD!
What? That’s strange, I thought. Well, no, apparently not.
But okay, they have scored a neat 16th place in the Summer Song Of The Day Top 20, with their song Summertime. A real big summer hit!

Number 16: DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince- Summertime

Music documentary 2: About the Bee Gees

If you ask me to name a band which was important in different streams of music, I will think some time and then give an answer: the Bee Gees.
They had lots of hits in different years, varying from the sixties to the nineties, and they were important in the music for the disco. As they say in the documentary, they actually made the disco.

The documentary I want to discuss is called In Our Own Time. It is made up out of several interviews, with some nice performances. In the documentary, all their years come along, and it is build up logically. Starting with a live performance, then going on with the prehistory of the Bee Gees, then the start, the “in between” years, and then the Fever.

Unfortunately two of the three members died in the past years. The strange thing is that the oldest is still standing!
Enjoy this documentary, you can find it in several parts on YouTube. Here’s part 1 of In Our Own Time.

Song of the day: Aretha Franklin- Respect


Since 1952 active, still active, and hits in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and the zeroes.
There are not a lot of people who can say that. Aretha Franklin can.

She had a lot of hits, and a lot of them are on this 2cd collection. And there is another nice detail: She also appeared on the soundtrack of the Blues Brothers, a few days ago. That song was called Think, an really good song!

However, it’s not the song of the day. And a lot of other hits are not song of the day either: there’s one song lucky.

And that is Respect! Respect for this woman, who enriched the music a lot!

Song of the day: Cher- Believe

cher greatest hits

Yes, the song of the day is one of the hits of Cher. And she had quite a few, I dare to say.
What do you think about It’s In His Kiss, maybe better known as The Shoop Shoop Song. Or Walking In Memphis?
And not to forget: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.

But there is one song which you all know, and it is really good. Enjoy Believe!

Song of the day: Culture Club- Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?


Whilst listening to the radio, a song came by and I thought: this is the song of saturday!
It’s a song from the early eighties, 1982. Since eighties music = good music, this is a very good song.
The group had more hits that this one, and one of the best known is of course Karma Chameleon.
However, that’s not my choice.

Do you remember the song Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

Tomorrow another song!