Since the mid-1950’s pop music has usually been identified as the music and the musical styles that are accessible to the widest audience.This means the music that sells the most copies, draws the largest concert audiences, and is played most often on the radio. One of the most consistent elements of pop music since the 1950’s is the pop song. Pop music is not usually written, performed and recorded as a symphony, suite, or concerto. The basic form for pop music is the song and usually a song consisting of verse and repeated chorus. Many pop songs have been inspired by classical composers. It is said that most pop songs are based on a dozen or so of the most familiar chord sequences that were «discovered» in the late 18th century. These are some examples of pop songs that are arrangements of, or otherwise make use of, works of classical music.
The Platters – My Prayer
G. Boulanger – Avant de Mourir
«My Prayer» is a 1939 popular song with music by salon violinist Georges Boulanger and lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy. It was originally written by Boulanger with the title «Avant de Mourir» in 1926. The lyrics for this version were added by Kennedy in 1939. Glenn Miller recorded the song that year for a #2 hit and The Ink Spots‘ version featuring Bill Kenny reached #3 as well that year. It has been recorded many times since, but the biggest hit version was a revival in 1956 by The Platters.This version reached #1 on the charts and was featured in the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as well as the 1985 film Mischief. Billboard ranked this version as the No. 4 song for 1956.The Ink Spots’ version of the song was featured in the 1992 movie, Malcolm X. The song also became a tango in the Italian version by Norma Bruni and Cinico Angelini’s orchestra (1940), «Sì, voglio vivere ancor!»
Perry Como – Catch A Falling Star
Brahms – Academic Festival Overture
«Catch a Falling Star«, written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, is a song made famous by Perry Como‘s hit version, released in 1957. It was Como’s last #1 hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard «Most Played by Jockeys» chart but not in the overall top 100, where it reached #2.It was the first single to receive a gold record certification, on March 14, 1958. The single won Como the 1959 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male. Its melody is based on a theme from Brahms‘ Academic Festival Overture.
Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling in Love
Jean-Paul-Egide Martini – Plaisir d’ Amour
«Can’t Help Falling in Love» is a pop song originally recorded by American singer Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley’s publishing company. It was written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss. The melody is based on «Plaisir d’amour» (1784), a popular romance by Jean Paul Egide Martini (1741–1816). It was featured in Elvis Presley‘s 1961 film, Blue Hawaii. During the following four decades, it was recorded by numerous other artists, including British reggae group UB40, whose 1993 version topped the U.S. and UK charts, and Swedish pop group A-Teens.
The Mindbenders – A Groovy Kind of Love
Muzio Clementi – Rondo From Sonatina in G
«A Groovy Kind of Love» is a pop song written by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager and published by the Screen Gems music publishing company. It is heavily based on the Rondo movement of Sonatina in G major, op. 36 no. 5 by Muzio Clementi. The song was released first by Diane & Annita in 1965, and several covers have since appeared on worldwide music charts.
The song title was an early use of the then-new slang word «groovy». Wine, who was 17 years old when she wrote the song, said, «Carole came up with «Groovy kinda… groovy kinda… groovy…» and we’re all just saying, ‘Kinda groovy, kinda groovy, kinda…’ and I don’t exactly know who came up with «Love», but it was ‘Groovy kind of love’. And we did it. We wrote it in 20 minutes. It was amazing. Just flew out of our mouths, and at the piano, it was a real quick and easy song to write.»
Jack McGraw, who ran the London Screen Gems offices, thought the Wine/Bayer Sager song was a perfect match for the new group the Mindbenders, who recorded their version of «A Groovy Kind of Love» in 1965. They liked the result so much that they included the song on their first album The Mindbenders (US title «A Groovy Kind of Love») and released the song to radio as their debut single. It soon reached number two in the UK, and did the same in the United States when it was released there a year later. The song features a female backup chorus, who sings the words «You and me», and the repeated title towards the end of each verse of the song.
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale
J.S. Bach – Air From Orchestra Suite in D
«A Whiter Shade of Pale» is the debut single by the English rock band Procol Harum, released 12 May 1967. The record reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 8 June 1967, and stayed there for six weeks.Without much promotion, it reached No. 5 on the US charts. One of the counterculture anthems of the 1967 Summer of Love, it is one of fewer than 30 singles to have sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics, written by the song’s co-authors Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, and organist Matthew Fisher, «A Whiter Shade of Pale» reached No. 1 in several countries when released in 1967. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic. As of 2009, it was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the United Kingdom, and the UK performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited in 2004 recognised it as the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years. Also in 2004, Rolling Stone placed «A Whiter Shade of Pale» No. 57 on its list of the500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
In 1977, the song was named joint winner (along with Queen‘s «Bohemian Rhapsody») of the Best British Pop Single 1952–1977 at the Brit Awards. In 1998 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. More than 1000 recorded cover versions by other artists are known. The song has been included in many music compilations over the decades and has also been used in the soundtracks of numerous films, including The Big Chill, Purple Haze, Breaking the Waves, The Boat That Rocked, Oblivion, and in Martin Scorsese‘s segment of New York Stories. Cover versions of the song have also been featured in many films, for example by King Curtis in Withnail and I and by Annie Lennox in The Net.
The original writing credits were for Brooker and Reid only. On 30 July 2009, Matthew Fisher won co-writing credit for adding the organ parts to the original music in a unanimous ruling from the Law Lords.
Aphrodite’s Child – Rain and Tears
Pachelbel – Canon in D
Aphrodite’s Child was a Greek progressive rock band formed in 1967, by Vangelis Papathanassiou (keyboards), Demis Roussos (bass guitar and vocals), Loukas Sideras (drums and vocals), and Anargyros «Silver» Koulouris (guitar). It was probably Vangelis’ idea that the still-anonymous band should be relocated to London, which would be a more suitable environment for their music, as their country had entered a right-wing dictatorship in 1967. This decision, however, was not problem-free. Koulouris had to stay in Greece to fulfill his military service, while the band, on their way to London, got stuck in Paris partially because they did not have the correct work permits and partially because of the strikes associated with the May 1968 events.In Paris they signed to Mercury Records and were christened «Aphrodite’s Child» by Lou Reisner, releasing their first single «Rain and Tears», a reworking of Pachelbel‘s Canon in D major.With this song the band became an overnight sensation in France and several other European countries in which the single charted well, despite the song being sung in English and not French. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc
John Denver – Annie’s Song
Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 5
«Annie’s Song» (also known as «Annie’s Song (You Fill Up My Senses)«) is a folk rock country song recorded and written by singer-songwriter John Denver. The song was released as a single from Denver’s album,Back Home Again. It was his second number-one song in the United States, occupying that spot for two weeks in July 1974. «Annie’s Song» also went to number one on the Easy Listening chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 25 song for 1974.
It went to number one in the United Kingdom, where it was Denver’s only major hit single (many of Denver’s American hits were more familiar in the UK through cover versions by other artists). Four years later, an instrumental version also became flutist James Galway‘s only major British hit.
«Annie’s Song» was written as an ode to Denver’s wife at the time, Annie Martell Denver. Denver «wrote this song in July 1973 in about ten-and-a-half minutes one day on a ski lift to the top of Ajax Mountain in Aspen, Colorado, as the physical exhilaration of having «just skied down a very difficult run» and the feeling of total immersion in the beauty of the colors and sounds that filled all senses inspired him to think about his wife.Annie Denver recalls the beginnings: «It was written after John and I had gone through a pretty intense time together and things were pretty good for us. He left to go skiing and he got on the Ajax chair on Aspen mountain and the song just came to him. He skied down and came home and wrote it down… Initially it was a love song and it was given to me through him, and yet for him it became a bit like a prayer.»
«The first time I heard ‘Annie’s Song,’ I told John it had the same melody as Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, Second Movement,» says Milt Okun. «He walked over to the piano, sat for an hour and came back, and the only thing remaining from Tchaikovsky was the first five notes. It was fantastic.»
Eric Carmen – All By Myself
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor
«All by Myself» is a power ballad by American artist Eric Carmen released in 1975. The verse is based on the second movement (Adagio sostenuto) of Sergei Rachmaninoff‘s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18. The chorus borrows from the song «Let’s Pretend» that Carmen had recorded with the Raspberries in 1972.
The song was the first released on Carmen’s first solo LP after leaving the power pop group the Raspberries and was released as the first single in December 1975 to great success. It reached number 2 on the BillboardHot 100, number 1 on Cash Box Top 100 Singles and number 3 in Canada. The single sold more than one million copies in the United States and was certified gold by the RIAA in April 1976. «All By Myself» was Carmen’s first of eight U.S. Top 40 hits. In the UK, however, this was his only Top 40 hit, peaking at number 12. In a 2006 poll for UK’s Five programme Britain’s Favourite Break-up Songs Eric Carmen’s version of this song was voted seventeenth.
Carmen thought that Rachmaninoff’s music was in the “public domain” and no copyright existed on it. Subsequent to the release of the album, Carmen was contacted by the Rachmaninoff estate and informed otherwise.An agreement was reached in which the estate would receive 12 percent of the royalties from «All By Myself» as well as «Never Gonna Fall in Love Again«, which was based on the third movement from Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.
On his second solo LP, Boats Against the Current, Carmen had a subsequent Top 40 hit entitled «She Did It» which was the antithesis of «All by Myself.» It is a happy answer to the loneliness and lovelessness described in this song and its equally melancholy follow-up, «Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.»
The Carmen version is used in the video introduction for Conan O’Brien‘s «Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour«, when an obese and bearded version of the talk show host struggles to cope with losing his job as host of Tonight Show. The Carmen version is also featured in the second season’s episode 17 of the 90’s popular sitcom Friends (set on Joey & Chandler’s friendship), and a season 4 episode of the hit sitcom That 70’s Show. It was also featured in the film Under Wraps. The version is used also in the film I nuovi mostri directed by Dino Risi, with Ornella Muti and Yorgo Voyagis.
Chumbawamba – Tubthumping
Clarke – Trumpet Voluntary
«Tubthumping«, sometimes incorrectly referred to by its prominent lyric «I Get Knocked Down«, is a song released by the British anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba on 11 August 1997. It was their most successful single, peaking at number two on the UK Singles Chart. It topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and peaked at number six in the United States. It was also used as a theme song for Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves.
The single version opens with the repeated line «We’ll be singing when we’re winning», in the style of a football chant, with sparse acoustic guitar backing. The football chant style is re-used for the chorus.
The song includes the repeated verse line «Pissing the night away», which returns in the later part of the song as «Sing sing the night away». The song also quotes the lead refrain from the 1910 Frederic Weatherly ballad «Danny Boy», which is sung in a verse counter-melody.
The trumpet solo, performed by Jude Abbott, is played in a jazz/pop style but with a multi-tracked fanfare. Towards the end of the song the trumpet part references the Baroque Prince of Denmark’s March and the Trumpet Voluntary. It is remarkable that The Beatles’ song «It’s All Too Much» from 1969 ends with the same melody.
Muse – Plug in Baby
Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
«Plug In Baby» is a song by English alternative rock band Muse, featured on their 2001 second studio album Origin of Symmetry. Released as the lead single from the album on 5 March 2001, «Plug In Baby» became the band’s highest-charting single when it peaked at number 11 on the UK Singles Chart, until it was surpassed by «Time Is Running Out», which peaked at number 8 in 2003. Today, «Plug In Baby» is considered one of Muse’s most notable songs, and has been featured on the live albums Hullabaloo Soundtrack (2002) and HAARP (2008). «Plug In Baby» is often praised for its opening guitar riff which Total Guitar magazine readers voted as the #1 ultimate guitar riff of the 2000s
«Plug In Baby» is an electronic rock song written in the key of D Major (Although the song does not begin or end on the tonic chord of the key). It’s mainly guitar and bass-driven, and moves at a tempo of 135 bpm. The guitar riff is based on the harmonic minor scale. The song was first recorded as a demo in 1997, although it featured a different guitar riff. The beginning of the riff shows similarities to the toccata from Bach‘s «Toccata and Fugue in D minor», BWV 565. Total Guitar voted the riff as the 13th best of all-time in 2004. In 2011, Spinner.com named «Plug In Baby» the 46th greatest guitar riff of all time, citing its «play on Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565’.»
The Streets – Same Old Thing
Dvorak – New World Symphony
The Streets were an English hip hop and UK garage project from Birmingham, England, led by the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Skinner. For The Streets’ first album, Original Pirate Material, Skinner wanted to take UK garage in a new direction with material reflecting the lifestyle of clubbers in Britain. The album was successful both with critics and the general public. In the UK, the album was nominated for the Mercury Prize and was favourite with the bookmakers to win (it was actually won by Ms. Dynamite). The Streets were nominated for best album, best urban act, best breakthrough artist and best British male artist in the 2002 BRIT Awards. The NME named it as one of their top five albums of 2002. The cover image is Towering Inferno by the acclaimed photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg. The track «Same Old Thing« sampled Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, «From the New World», 1st Movement (Adagio, Allegro Molto).
Rufus Wainwright – Oh What A World
Maurice Ravel – Bolero
«Oh What a World» is a song written and performed by Canadian-American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. It was released as the second single from Wainwright’s third studio album, Want One (2003), released digitally via iTunes and 7digital in the United Kingdom on November 8, 2004. Promotional copies were also distributed to radio stations in an attempt to increase awareness of the song and album. The song includes several arrangements from Maurice Ravel’s Boléro.
«Oh What a World» also appears on Rufus Wainwright: Live at the Fillmore, the bonus DVD that accompanies Want Two (2004), the repackaged double album released in the UK simply titled Want, and the 2005 compilation album Acoustic 05.
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