Category Archives: Genre Categories

20 Great Songs: Classical Crossover

Less of a genre of music and more of a way to bundle the music that doesn’t fit into one category together, the term ‘classical crossover’ tends to cover everything from rock/pop-classical fusion to classically trained musicians performing in an unusual way or context, experimenting and bringing new music to a broad and varied audience. This list contains a wide range of artists and music, from Andrea Bocelli to Metallica and everything inbetween.

Ten Song Taster 

1) Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends (The Piano Guys) 

[From The Piano Guys website] What do you get when you mix up a marketing genius that does video, a studio engineer that writes music, a pianist that had a successful solo career, and a cellist that does pretty much everything? The Piano Guys: a miraculous meeting of “guys” with the same intrinsic purpose – to make a positive impact in the lives of people all over the world through music videos.

2) Smooth Criminal (2CELLOS) – Original by Michael Jackson

2Cellos, comprised of Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, have achieved phenomenal success with their interpretations of pop and rock songs. Smooth Criminal is the song that originally shot them to fame:

3) Berlin Song (Ludovico Einaudi)

Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, probably most famous for ‘I Giorni‘ and ‘Le Onde‘, writes minimalist solo piano music with world, pop and folk music influences. A personal favourite is Berlin Song:

4) Concerto for Group and Orchestra, Movement 3 (Deep Purple)

Written in 1969, this pioneering work composed by Jon Lord of Deep Purple was the first known combination of rock music and a complete orchestra and often considered to have paved the way for other rock/orchestra performances such as Metallica’s S&M concert. The third movement is the most dramatic and it’s worth having some good speakers or headphones to play it through. There is an orchestral introduction until 2:30, then the band take a more prominent role.

5) Csárdás – Performed by Nigel Kennedy (Composed by Monti, performance from Last Night Of The Proms 2013)

British violinist Nigel Kennedy originally began performing in the classical field before diversifying and expanding into jazz, klezmer and other genres. Injecting humour and a fresh perspective into his performances, this performance of Monti’s Csárdás was a highlight of this year’s Last Night Of The Proms.

6) Spring I – Max Richter (from the ‘Max Richter Recomposed’ album – Vivaldi 4 Seasons)

In 2012, British composer Max Richter took on the project of ‘recomposing’ Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Keeping the main themes but discarding 75% of the original material, he uses phrasing and loops to create a more contemporary and minimalist tone.

7) O Sole Mio – The Three Tenors

The Three Tenors is the name given to opera singers Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, who sang together in concert during the 1990s and early 2000s. Bringing together opera, Neapolitan folksong, musical theatre and pop, their personalities, humour and range of styles engaged a vast concert and television audience.

8) Electric Counterpoint III – Steve Reich

One of the pioneers of the minimalist style, Steve Reich is an American composer who makes extensive use of looping and overdubbing to create an original sound and genre. Here is Electric Counterpoint, composed for electric guitar or amplified acoustic guitar and tape.

9) Nothing Else Matters – Metallica (from the ‘Symphony and Metallica’ album)

The S&M (Symphony and Metallica) album was recorded live in 1999 and was an idea of Cliff Burton’s: “to combine heavy metal with an epic classical approach”. (Wikipedia) Burton’s love of classical music, especially of Johann Sebastian Bach, can be traced back to many instrumental parts and melodic characteristics in Metallica’s songwriting, including songs from Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets. The other inspiration was Deep Purple’s 1969 Concerto for Group and Orchestra (number 3 in this ten song taster list).

10) Time To Say Goodbye (Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman)

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is one of the biggest-selling singers in the history of classical music and performs a lot of music in the classical crossover genre. Together with soprano Sarah Brightman, they released Time To Say Goodbye in 1996, a year after Bocelli had first released the song in Italian as Con Te Partiro. The song has become one of the best-selling singles of all time.

The full playlist can be found on Spotify: Classical Crossover

  1. 2CELLOS (Sulic & Hauser) – Smooth Criminal
  2. Einaudi, Ludovico – Einaudi: Berlin Song
  3. Deep Purple – Concerto For Group And Orchestra – Movement III
  4. All Angels – The Sound Of Silence
  5. Nigel Kennedy – Czardas
  6. Luciano Pavarotti – O Sole Mio
  7. Richter, Max – Richter: Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons – Spring 1
  8. Mats Bergstrom – Electric Counterpoint: III. Fast
  9. Metallica – Nothing Else Matters (Live with the SFSO)
  10. David Garrett – Master Of Puppets
  11. Arvo Pärt – Spiegel im spiegel
  12. George Fenton – The Blue Planet
  13. 2CELLOS (Sulic & Hauser) – Technical Difficulties
  14. Pet Shop Boys – The miracle – Ceremony
  15. London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) – Allegretto from Palladio for String Orchestra
  16. Tolga Kashif & London Symphony Orchestra – Ripples
  17. Vitamin String Quartet – In Your Eyes (String Quartet Tribute to Peter Gabriel)
  18. Yiruma – River Flows In You
  19. Brian Crain – Moonrise
  20. Andrea Bocelli – Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro) – English Version With Sarah Brightman

Or if you’re already signed in, you can listen below:

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20 Great Songs: Folk

the civil wars

This selection of songs are made up of the whole spectrum of folk; from Nick Drake to Johnny Cash to contemporary indie/rock crossovers. Enjoy!

Spotify Playlist Link: Folk

  1. The Civil Wars – From This Valley
  2. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
  3. Nick Drake – ‘ Cello Song
  4. Odetta – Hit Or Miss – Live
  5. Vandaveer – However Many Takes It Takes
  6. Baden Powell – Samba da Benção
  7. Passenger – Life’s for the Living
  8. Eddie Vedder – Rise
  9. Johnny Cash – Girl From The North Country
  10. Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait
  11. The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found
  12. James Yorkston – Summer Song
  13. Ron Pope – Virginia
  14. Joan Baez – Blowin’ In The Wind
  15. Noah And The Whale – Introduction
  16. Bombay Bicycle Club – Rinse Me Down
  17. Daughter – Youth
  18. Alela Diane – The Wind
  19. John Mayer – Wildfire
  20. Penguin Café Orchestra – Air a Danser

20 Great Songs: Musicals

musicals2

Journeying through the variety of styles in the musical genre, the earliest song on the list is Irving Berlin’s ‘Top Hat’ (1935) with the playlist travelling through many different great musicals from the proceeding 75 years. The songs are deliberately not listed in chronological order to keep it flowing and maintain variety:

Spotify Playlist Link: Musicals

  1. Seasons Of Love (from RENT)
  2. Put On Your Sunday Clothes (from Hello! Dolly)
  3. I Get a Kick Out of You (from Anything Goes)
  4. Top Hat, White Tie and Tails (from Top Hat)
  5. Good Morning (from Singin’ In The Rain)
  6. The Trolley Song (from Meet Me In St. Louis) – Performed and re-recorded by the John Wilson Orchestra
  7. Some People (from Gypsy)
  8. Defying Gravity (from Wicked)
  9. Barn Dance (from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers) – Performed and re-recorded by the John Wilson Orchestra
  10. Prologue And Tradition (from Fiddler On The Roof)
  11. America (from West Side Story)
  12. You Can’t Stop The Beat (from Hairspray)
  13. I’ve Just Seen A Face (from Across The Universe)
  14. There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This (from Sweet Charity)
  15. Can You Feel the Love Tonight (from The Lion King)
  16. Bring Him Home (from Les Miserables)
  17. Belle (from Beauty And The Beast)
  18. Omigod You Guys (from Legally Blonde: The Musical)
  19. Don’t Rain On My Parade (from Funny Girl)
  20. Let’s Go Fly A Kite (from Mary Poppins)

20 Great Songs: Piano

Invented by expert Italian harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori, the modern piano is celebrated for its resonant sound and versatility of style. This list of great piano pieces encompasses music starting from the 1600s up to the present day. The pieces are listed with the earliest at the beginning and the most recent at the end but are in no particular order, instead arranged in a way to maintain interest when listening to them all in succession (scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full Spotify playlist).

Ten Song Taster

Domenico Scarlatti’s Piano Sonata in E major K380

This performance by Vadim Chaimovich elegantly captures the rhythmic precision of the Baroque period.

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op.27 No.2 – “Moonlight”, Mov 3. 

This electrifying performance of the third movement of one of Beethoven’s most famous piano sonatas is by Valentina Lisitsa. The tempestuous energy of this piece has led to comparisons with a storm.

Schubert’s Impromptu in G-flat major, Op. 90 No.3

Full of flowing melodic lines made up of arpeggios and broken chords, contrasting against the languid melody line, this is one of the first pieces to be composed in the unusual key of G-flat major. Performed by Polish classical pianist Krystian Zimerman.

Yiruma’s Fotografia

South Korean composer and pianist Yiruma has achieved widespread fame via YouTube with his “contemporary classical” style of composition. Speaking to http://www.hancinema.net, he discusses his inspiration for writing:

I try to recall the memories of my past, my childhood, sometimes my lovers … But it’s all my surroundings that inspire me. That’s the beginning point of my composition, really.

Liszt’s La Campanella

The third of Franz Liszt’s six Grandes études de Paganini, this playful and energetic piece is characterised by large interval jumps and bare octaves. Performed here by Yundi Li.

Chopin’s Waltz in E minor 

Full List 

[You can click on each song individually and a new Spotify link will open in your browser]

  1. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Variation 1 a 1 Clav
  2. Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos in E Klat, K.365: Rondo (allegro)
  3. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major Op. 106 Hammerklavier: I. Allegro
  4. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor, Op.27 No.2 -“Moonlight” – 3. Presto
  5. Liszt: La campanella in G-Sharp Minor from Grandes études de Paganini, S 141/3
  6. Schubert: Impromptus, D. 899 (Op. 90): Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat Major: Andante
  7. Chopin: Nocturne for Piano, No. 8 in D flat Major, Op. 27,2
  8. Chopin: Scherzo No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 31
  9. Stravinsky: Les 5 doigts pour piano solo
  10. Chopin: Waltz No.14 in E minor, Op.posth.
  11. Pärt: Für Alina, for Piano Solo
  12. Albeniz: Asturias
  13. Kaempfert: Strangers in the Night – Live Recording
  14. Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 7 In B Flat Major, Op. 83: III. Precipitato
  15. Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22: III. Presto
  16. Einaudi: Berlin Song
  17. Ravel: Piano Concerto in G – 2. Adagio assai
  18. Yiruma: Fotografia
  19. Adams: Phrygian Gates
  20. Poulenc: 2 Novelettes: Novelette No. 2 In B Flat Minor: Tres Rapide Et Rythme

Spotify Playlist

20 Great Songs: African

This feel-good list of songs encompasses a mixture of African music traditions with a choral focus. You can listen to the full Spotify playlist can be found at the bottom of the page.

N.B. Check out FOLI’s ‘There is no movement without rhythm‘. Not a song but still an interesting video.

Ten Song Taster

1. Thina Simnqobile – Soweto Gospel Choir

2. Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba

3. Tuli Tuli – Kenyan Boys Choir

4. Mori Keke Kan – King Sunny Ade

5. Jesu – Malawi Mouse Boys

6. He Lives In You – Lebo M  (from The Lion King 2)

7. Misahotaka Ny Akama – Rajery

8. Samite Of Uganda – Njabala

9. Famou – Sekouba Bambino

10. Dinosaur On The Ark – The Very Best*

Spotify Playlist Link: African

(Where some of the tracks were not available on Spotify they have been replaced by similar tracks)

20 Great Songs: Road Trip

After painstakingly putting together a great California road-trip playlist last summer, here is a selection of some of my favourites to inspire or add to your own road-trip playlist. Admittedly some of the tracks are a bit female-centric (with Shania, Carly Rae Jepson and Vanessa Carlton all making an appearance) but fun all the same!

Ready-to-go Spotify Playlist Link: American Road Trip

1. The Who – Baba O’Riley

2. Dario G – Sunchyme

3. Canned Heat – Going Up The Country 

4. Jo Dee Messina – Heads Carolina, Tails California 

5. Rascal Flatts – Life Is A Highway 

6. Leighton Meester – Summer Girl

7.Sugarland – It Happens 

8. Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

9. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

10. Vanessa Carlton – A Thousand Miles

11. The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica

12. Bryan Adams – Summer Of ’69

13. The Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A. 

14. The Soggy Bottom Boys – I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow

15. Starship – We Built This City

16. The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

17. Canned Heat – On The Road Again

18. Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally

19. America – Ventura Highway

20. Faces – Ooh La La

Full List:

  1. Dario G – Sunchyme – Sash! -Rmx-Edit 
  2. The Who – Baba O’Riley – Original Version
  3. Canned Heat – Going Up The Country 
  4. Jo Dee Messina – Heads Carolina, Tails California
  5. Rascal Flatts – Life Is A Highway 
  6. Leighton Meester – Summer Girl 
  7. Sugarland – It Happens
  8. Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like A Woman!
  9. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
  10. Vanessa Carlton – A Thousand Miles 
  11. The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica
  12. Bryan Adams – Summer Of ’69
  13. The Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A.
  14. The Soggy Bottom Boys – I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow 
  15. Starship – We Built This City 
  16. The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
  17. Canned Heat – On The Road Again
  18. Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally – Remastered Single Version
  19. America – Ventura Highway
  20. Faces – Ooh La La