5 pieces of pop music inspired by classical music | FEATURE

1.Eric Carmen ‘All by Myself’ / Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor

Let’s start with possibly the most famous example of classical music sampling. This 1975 power ballad, reinvigorated by Celine Dion in 1996, lifted its melody from the slow movement of Sergei Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto,  a piece also famously used to underscore the 1945 British film Brief Encounter.

2. Lady Gaga’s ‘Alejandro’ / Vittorio Monti’s Csárdás

This song opens with the main melody from the piece “Csárdás” by Italian composer Vittorio Monti – itself based on a traditional Hungarian folk dance, as a distressed Gaga (speaking in a Spanish accent) says: ‘I know that we are young, and I know that you may love me/But I just can’t be with you like this anymore, Alejandro.’

3. The White Stripes’s ‘Seven Nation Army’ / Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5

This rock single from The White Stripe’s album, “Elephant” contains an iconic Guitar riff by lead singer, Jack White. White studied classical music as a student and the opening of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony from 1877 inspired this riff that has become a rock classic.

4. Take That’s Never Forget / Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Tuba mirum’ (Requiem)

The band’s lead singer gary Barlow sampled a choral and trumpet fanfare from Verdi’s Requiem (Dies Irae Tuba Mirum) to kick off one of Take That’s most popular songs.

5. Muse’s Plug in Baby / Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Bach’s influence extended a long, long way. As far, even, as this English rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994.  Listen to Muse’s guitar riff for Plug in Baby’ – sound familiar? Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor crops up over and over again in the world of pop, from Slim Shady to Mike Oldfield. This is just one example.

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