20 Great Covers: 13) Billie Jean by Bottle Boys

Using only beer bottles and a couple of shakers, the Bottle Boys have created an impressive version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, complete with all parts and harmonies:

You can check out the rest of Bottle Boys’ creations on their YouTube channel


Artist Spotlight: Trouvere – Beach House

Introducing the catchy and upbeat Beach House by Trouvere; a pop duo comprised of singers Greg LaFollette and Shell Snyder. Beginning as friends who were both pursuing their own careers in the music business, they eventually collaborated to write their first song (This Is Our Song) and Trouvere was born.


Greg spoke to 20GreatSongs about Trouvere’s music and inspiration:

How long have you guys known each other and how long have you been performing together?

Shell and I have known each other for a few years now. We met while she was fronting a different band and I worked on their record in the studio. I knew then, at some point, I wanted to make more music with her. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.

Coming from Nashville, are you influenced at all by country music?

Well, we’ve both lived in nashville for around 5 years now, and country music definitely has a profound fingerprint that it puts on the city. That being said, so does a lot of the indie pop stuff that we love. We are both really influenced by a ton of great artists, so, whatever genre they may fall into, we are grateful to be surrounded by such great music and musicians.

Out of all of the songs you have done so far, do you have a favourite?

I really like the song “follow me.” There’s a level of poetry and flow in that song that I am proud of.

[You can listen to all of Trouvere’s music at http://www.trouveretheband.com/music]

Which artists would you like to collaborate or duet with?

I think it would be fun to be in the studio with Kanye. He seems like he just plays around and experiments until awesome stuff happens. I’d also love to work with Jackson Browne. He seems like he is a resident artist.

What advice would you give to other singer songwriters?

Stick around long enough to be in the right place at the right time…and have courage.

And finally, what are you working on at the moment?

We just released a Christmas record on November 5th, so we are working on promoting that and getting it in as many ears and hearts as possible.

See more of Trouvere on their website and have a listen to the rest of their music here.

New Artists Spotlight: Luca – Sailors

This week’s featured song is ‘Sailors’ by Luca; an acoustic singer-songwriter from New York City. Taking inspiration from partly from dreams and partly from the personal experiences of a friend, ‘Sailors’ is a melancholic song about the war between old love and new love.

Luca caught up with 20GreatSongs to discuss her inspiration and experiences so far:

How long have you been playing the guitar and writing songs?

I remember writing my first song when i was ten. my parents were both musicians so we always had guitars lying around the house. My first musical obsession was the violin but I picked up guitar now and then as well.

Is most of what you perform original material or do you do covers as well?

I used to sing a lot of jazz and cover stuff when I lived in California but it’s all originals these days.

Where do you get your inspiration to write? And what inspired ‘Sailors’?

A lot of what I write comes from dreams. Sailors was half dream and half I was watching a friend about to throw a lot of beautiful things in his life away…this tells that story and is a sort of begging to reconsider.

Out of all of the songs you have written so far, do you have a favourite?

The newest one usually! Right now ‘Sleepers.’

[You can listen to ‘Sleepers’ on Soundcloud here]

Who are your favourite artists of all time?

Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen.

Most unusual situation you have ever found yourself in?

I was in an elevator with my blonde tan hot athletic looking ex in Hawaii. A bunch of girls from another country got on who didn’t speak English and all started pointing at him and screaming DAVID BECKHAM DAAAAAAVID BECKHAAAAM!!!!! They were pulling out paper and pens for autographs by the time we escaped. You don’t quickly forget the sound of ten girls screaming in very small enclosed spaces.

What are you working on at the moment?

My first album! Everything out so far is acoustic demos, if you listen hard enough you’ll hear the nyc sirens and traffic in the background…this new album should be ready in the next few months.

I’m always blogging new songs and poetry as well, thegreatpower.wordpress.com

What advice would you give to other singer songwriters?

Write every day. Make it more human. Give them stories.

Also, the wise Franz Kafka said, ‘don’t bend, don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.’ I have this written on my wall so I see it when I wake up every morning.

And finally, what would your 20 Great Songs list be? 

As of today and in no certain order…

  1. The Verve – Judas
  2. Band of Horses – Infinite Arms
  3. Kanye West – Blood On The Leaves
  4. James Blake – Our Love Comes Back
  5. Bon Iver – Holocene
  6. Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No. 1
  7. Dustin O’Halloran – Opus 54
  8. The Cure – Pictures Of You
  9. Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine
  10. Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
  11. Jeff Buckley – Morning Theft
  12. Ryan Adams – Wonderwall
  13. Miles Davis – Blue In Green
  14. Otis Redding – A Change Is Gonna Come
  15. Radiohead – Scatterbrain
  16. Radiohead – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  17. Radiohead – All I Need (Spotify version performed by Vitamin String Quartet)
  18. Radiohead – House of Cards (Spotify version performed by Vitamin String Quartet)
  19. Thom Yorke – Black Swan
  20. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K.491

If you have a Spotify account you can listen to the full playlist here:

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:

Film Music Fridays: Ennio Morricone

With a career that spans over fifty years and hundreds of film scores, Italian composer Ennio Morricone has produced some of the most well-recognised music in the film industry. Most famous for composing the scores to many of Sergio Leone’s westerns, he has also found enormous success composing for Quentin Tarantino and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso. Twelve tracks are featured as YouTube videos and the remainder of the playlist can be found in the Spotify Playlist Link below.

Spotify Playlist Link: Ennio Morricone

Ten Song Taster

1. ‘Cinema Paradiso Theme’ (from Cinema Paradiso)

2. ‘Deborah’s Theme’ (from Once Upon A Time in America)

3. ‘The Braying Mule’ (from Django Unchained)

4. ‘Mucchio Selvaggio’ (from My Name Is Nobody)

5. ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’ (from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly)

6. ‘Guns For San Sebastian’ (from Guns For San Sebastian)

7. ‘For A Few Dollars More Theme’ (from For A Few Dollars More)

8. ‘Il Vizietto’ (from La Cage aux Folles)

9. ‘Once Upon A Time In America Theme’ (from Once Upon A Time In America)

10. ‘Once Upon A Time In The West Theme’ (from Once Upon A Time In The West)

[Or if you sign into Spotify you can listen to the whole playlist here]

20 Great Covers: 9) For What It’s Worth by The Lone Bellow

Three piece Brooklyn-based group The Lone Bellow lend rich harmonies and a country feel to this acoustic cover of Stephen Stills’ For What It’s Worth (you can see the original here). You can check out some of the songs from their debut album The Lone Bellow on their YouTube channel – definitely worth a listen.

These guys are going to be big.

You can follow The Lone Bellow on Twitter, or check out their website. [Links will open into separate tabs]

20 Great Covers: 8) Lady Gaga Medley by Sam Tsui & Kurt Hugo Schneider

Sam Tsui and Kurt Hugo Schneider are American musicians and YouTube celebrities. Attending both high school and, later, Yale University together, Sam and Kurt started off as a duo but now do independent projects as well as working together. They have covered many popular artists such as Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars and, here, Lady Gaga.

(Their Michael Jackson medley is also great!)

You can see more on their YouTube channels (Sam & Kurt)

Great songs from every genre

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