8 Famous Songs Inspired by Classical Music

Whether you like it or not classical music is the real deal. Thousands of modern 20th and 21st century songs are inspired by it. But because of our lack of music knowledge, we consider these brilliant songs to have just come out of the minds of our favorite contemporary artists. I’m not accusing them of doing anything wrong here, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just that finding out their actual source of inspiration makes us admire their theoretical background on one hand, but decreases the magic revolving around them on the other. Here are 8 famous songs inspired by classical music pieces.

1. RadioheadExit Music for a Film and ChopinPrelude No. 4 in E Minor

8 Famous Songs Inspired by Classical Music

These are basically identical. Radiohead’s piece has got some modern vibes added on the way, but the theme is identical. Both are very beautiful and emotional songs. You can listen to Radiohead’s version here and to Chopin’s here. I must admit the fact that I prefer Radiohead’s. It’s just perfect.

2. Lady GagaBad Romance and BachThe Well Tempered Clavier

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This association in more difficult to make than the previous one, that’s for sure. But nevertheless once you find the resemblance it’s fascinating. And this is definitely not the kind of thing you’d consider to be a simple coincidence. It’s impossible. Here you are: Lady Gaga and Bach.

3. JemThey and BachPrelude in F minor

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Jem’s debut single, They, remains her best selling single worldwide and is basically Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Prelude in F minor, spiced up with a jazzy feel and a jazzy interpretation. It’s nice to know Bach is still hitting it big nowadays, as he definitely seems a common and safe recipe for success. You can listen to Jem here, and to Bach again, here. The resemblance is incredible.

4. David ShireNight on Disco Mountain and Mussorgsky Night on Bald Mountain

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8 Famous Songs Inspired by Classical Music4

Trust me the thing with the night present in both titles is the least obvious resemblance. Nevertheless, taking a classical piece and turning it into disco music is quite an accomplishment. The night should have been turned into something else I think, just to clear out the tracks. Here they are, the disco version and the classical one.

5. StingRussians and ProkofievRomance from Lieutenant Kije

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We all know Sting is a real artist, that’s why we can’t blame him for this. In his case it sounds more like a tribute, but still, I wouldn’t have bothered me to know this before falling in love with his song. Here’s the original classical version.

6. Janelle MonaeSay You’ll Go and Debussy Clair de Lune

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I don’t particularly consider Janell Monae the artist of the century, but it’s Debussy I want you to listen to. He is considered to be the first modern composer. And his music bursts emotion. Here are both versions: Janelle’s and Debussy’s.

7. Elvis Presley - It’s Now Or Never and Eduardo di Capua - O Sole Mio

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Also known as the Cornetto song, O Sole Mio, meaning oh, my Sunshine, is probably the most famous opera piece in the world. Giovanni Capurro wrote the song’s lyrics and the melody was composed by Eduardo di Capua. While stationed in Germany, Elvis Presley heard Tony Martin’s version and recorded his version upon discharge.

8. NasI can and BeethovenFür Elise

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Nas and Beethoven might seem like a strange marriage, but somehow, it worked. NAS samples the theme from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Für Elise. For a NAS song that promotes the message of “I know I can / Be what I wanna be / If I work hard at it / I’ll be where I wanna be,” Beethoven seems a match made in Heaven.

The Real Names That Famous People Didn’t Want You to Know About

If you were incredibly famous the last thing you would want is for the whole world to know that you had a real name you didn’t like or didn’t want to use. In fact, you would do what these smart people did and change the blooming thing as soon as you could.

John Wayne –Marion Robert Morrison

Real Names of Famous People

The strangest thing about John Wayne’s parents isn’t the fact that that called their son Marion. Oh no, it was the fact that they decided to change his name after he was born but left in the stupid Marion bit. He went from Marion Robert Morrison to Marion Mitchell Morrison in the blink of an eye. You can just imagine his parents sitting up at night looking at the little cowboy sleeping like an angel. “There’s something about that name that ain’t right but I just can’t put my darned finger on it. Hell, let’s lose the Robert. That ought to make it better”.

Elton John – Reginald Kenneth Dwight

Real Names of Famous People

I need to start off by apologizing to anyone out there who has a name anything like Elton’s real name. Come on though; it just sucks, doesn’t it? To be fair, his bizarre use of wigs and hats has ensured that you couldn’t take him too seriously even if he was called Big Daddy or John Wayne.

MC Hammer – Stanley Kirk Burrell

Real Names of Famous People

For about 2 days in 1990 I wanted to be MC Hammer and wear pants that had enough room to fit a couple of dozen live chickens in them. Stop! Hammer Time I would have said to everyone while looking astonishingly cool and not at all like a guy who ripping off some other dude’s funky song.

Vanilla Ice – Robert Matthew Van Winkle

Real Names of Famous People

You can’t have Hammer without Ice. Mr Van Winkle sang about ice and he sang about turtles. I liked him.

Big Daddy – Shirley Crabtree

Real Names of Famous People

Unless you led a sad life watching Saturday daytime TV in the UK in the 1970s and 80s you might not have ever heard of Big Daddy. That’s a shame because…actually, I can’t think of any good reason why that would be a shame. He started his life as Shirley Crabtree, which is a name even Johnny Cash would have struggled to sing about. The good news for young Shirley is that he turned into a hulking young man and become a wrestler known to the world as (drum roll please) Blond Adonis Shirley Crabtree. Hang on; wouldn’t changing his name to Big Daddy be a better move?

Stevie Wonder – Steveland Judkins

Real Names of Famous People

I know absolutely no one who is called Steveland. The surname Judkins is also a new one to me, although I have to admit that I have never come across any other members of the Wonder clan over the years either. What does all of this prove? Sweet Fanny Adams, to be honest.

Dido – Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstrong

Real Names of Famous People

I always thought that Dido was her real name. Now it turns out that she’s got a name that sounds like a gothic church in Ireland that was founded by French monks on acid.

Martin Sheen – Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez

Real Names of Famous People

I genuinely had no idea that Martin’s parents were Spanish and Irish. I also didn’t know that his left arm was 3 inches shorter than his right due to being crushed by the forceps when he was born. That’s the power of Wikipedia, people.

Fred Astaire – Frederick Austerlitz

Real Names of Famous People

Having a surname that sounds like a famous battle won by Napoleon in 1805 that changed the world obviously didn’t appeal to Fred (jeez, this Wikipedia stuff is addictive).

The Best Songs to Learn Spanish With

So, you want to learn Spanish, do you? You could sit down with a dull-as-ditchwater text book or trudge to night college classes once a week, I guess.

Hey, I’ve got a better idea for you. Why not play these fantastic Spanish songs? You could learn while you tap your feet and move those hips? Yeah, that ought to be fun.

Gipsy Kings – Hotel California

The Best Songs to Learn Spanish With

If you have never listened to the Gipsy Kings’ music then there is a massive gaping hole in your life right there. These guys were actually born in France but they are from Spanish gypsy families and sing in Spanish. This is one of their most famous songs. Maybe you heard it in a film about a dude once. Parts are in English and parts are in Spanish with the lyrics translated pretty much directly from the original song by The Eagles.

Jose Luis Perales – ¿Y Como Es El?

Learn Spanish through Songs

I am sure that you had heard of the Gipsy Kings before. But, who in the heck is Jose Luis Perales? He is a singer from Spain who has just about the clearest singing voice you could imagine. You’ll pick up every single word as he tells you all about the bad luck he always seems to suffer in his love life.

Eros Ramazzotti – Cosas de la Vida

Songs and Learning Spanish

Here’s a great tip for you if you want to find the best songs to learn Spanish with: find singers who don’t speak Spanish as a first language. Now, you might want to give Nat King Cole’s slightly tortured version of Quizás, Quizás, Quizás a try. Personally, I would go with this Italian top song. The hard rocking guitar is fantastic in this one and there is even a version with Tina Turner crooning along in English too, if you like that kind of thing.

Joaquín Sabina – Y Sin Embargo

Spanish Songs to Learn From

If you want clever lyrics and memorable turns of phrase then Joaquín is your man. This guy writes brilliant lyrics and has some songs that are completely unmissable for anyone learning the language. His use of complex wordplay means that this isn’t for beginners. Once you feel confident, he’ll have you singing along happily.

Marcelo Morelo – La Fuerza del Engaño

Learn Spanish through Songs

There are a lot of brilliant Argentine songs to learn Spanish with. Fito Paez bashes his piano like a maniac, Leo Dan sings amazingly clear, and Andrés Calamaro is so cool you could chill a beer on his head on a balmy day in Buenos Aires. However, if you want some classy native instrumentation then this lady has some great songs with panpipes, charangos and other instruments you may have never heard before. Best of all, her songs sounds like modern, top class pop and rock efforts.

Gloria Estefan – Hoy

Songs and Spanish

Gloria has a wonderful voice when she sings in English. She sounds even better in Spanish. Hoy was actually written about the beauty about Peru, by a Peruvian writer (which is why the video is filmed in Machu Picchu). However, Gloria gives it a new breathe of life and her version of it will have you looking up some new words in order to better understand this glorious song. There’s an English version of this song called Wrapped. The Spanish version is much more interesting in my opinion.

The 5 Most Depressing Songs Ever

Are you happy? Do you smile all the time? Optimism and generosity are your middle names? Well maybe you should listen to some depressing music for a change. It’s summer, it’s hot, and it’s way too sunny. Here are the 5 most depressing songs ever. Take a look at these people and consider yourself lucky for a change. Or, you could even join in all of “the fun.”

# 5. Gloomy Sunday – Billie Holiday

The 5 Most Depressing Songs Ever

This song is also known as the ‘Hungarian Suicide Song’. Gloomy Sunday was written by a Hungarian composer called Rezso Seress while he was living in Paris in 1932. It has reportedly led to a suicide phenomenon, especially in Hungary. People would jump into the Danube carrying the sheet music. Afterwards it was banned from public performances.

The most popular version of the song belongs to Billie Holiday, and it dates back to 1941: “Angels have no thought of ever returning you. Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?”  It was translated into Russian, French and Japanese. I bet the latter version sounds interesting…

# 4. Vincent/ Starry Starry Night – Don McLean

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Don McLean wrote this song as well as its lyrics as a tribute to the famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Its title is a reference to Van Gogh’s famous painting The Starry Night. McLean pays tribute to Van Gogh throughout the whole song by mentioning his best known creations. He also reflects upon his lack of recognition: “They would not listen / they did not know how / perhaps they’ll listen now.” In the final chorus, McLean says “They would not listen / they’re not listening still / perhaps they never will.” This is the true story of Van Gogh’s life: unrecognized as an artist and treated like a weirdo until after his death.

# 3. Everybody knows – Leonard Cohen

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Everybody Knows was first released on Cohen’s album I’m Your Man, February 1988. Featuring phrases such as “Everybody knows that the dice are loaded” and “Everybody knows that the good guys lost,” the song absolutely bursts with pessimism delivered in Cohen’s cynical manner. According to critics, it’s a “bleak prophecy about the end of the world as we know it.” Here’s a small sample: And everybody knows that you’re in trouble / Everybody knows what you’ve been through / From the bloody cross on top of Calvary / To the beach of Malibu  / Everybody knows it’s coming apart / Take one last look at this Sacred Heart / Before it blows / And everybody knows.”

# 2. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley Version


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This song actually belongs to Leonard Cohen as well. But, I find this particular version more depressing than the original. Well the guy who sings it passed away in 1997. When I hear him sing this particular song, I really just want to cry. The lyrics are incredible. Cohen’s writing skills again! Maybe there’s a God above / But all I’ve ever learned from love / Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you / It’s not a cry you can hear at night / It’s not somebody who has seen the light / It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”

# 1. She’s Lost Control – Joy Division

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This one has a different story. The title of the song was referred to in the film biopic of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, which was entitled Control. This song is actually about a young woman having an epileptic fit. It refers to how desperate and powerless she feels during her seizure. Curtis himself suffered from this terrible illness and lived with the fear of the attacks. She’s Lost Control is a dark and trance-like song. It certainly reflects the way Curtis himself felt about epilepsy. Well I had to phone her friend to state my case, / And say she’s lost control again. / And she showed up all the errors and mistakes, / And said I’ve lost control again. / But she expressed herself in many different ways, / Until she lost control again. / And walked upon the edge of no escape, / And laughed I’ve lost control. / She’s lost control again. / She’s lost control. / She’s lost control again. / She’s lost control.

Feeling better? No? Now that the list is complete, it’s time to go out and enjoy that beautiful sunlight. Smile once in awhile!

5 Excellent Examples of Intellectual Hip-Hop

The closest I’ve come to hip-hop was two-years ago when I heard some tasteless beats about having your way with women and winning as much money as possible. Little did I know that hip hop can be an excellent form of artistic expression. I changed my mind about it when I first heard Macklemore sing. Since then I started listening to Grieves, Atmosphere and many more.

Once you go beyond what the masses listen to, you will discover some subtle variations of the hip hop genre that will definitely move you and send out  a powerful message. There are a select few artists that have managed to create absolutely brilliant intellectual hip-hop. Let’s take a look at their best songs and videos.


1. Atmosphere – Guarantees

But I don’t wan’t to go home yet, so I’m gonna talk to my cigarette and that television set / It doesn’t matter what brand or station, anything to take away from the current situation.”

People don’t require tragedies to be broken down. Sometimes, the struggles of every day life are more than enough to make them feel overwhelmed. In “Guarantees”, and through these lyrics, Atmosphere directly expresses the state of his life. He concludes with the only guarantee in life / is a life worth dying for. These two lyrics have been interpreted time and time again. Some said that they refer to his son, while other believe that it is only a depiction of his state of mind.

Video: Atmosphere – Guarantees

2. Grieves – Lightspeed

“Mom was a religion and happiness was a fact / It’s a shame how the time goes past / Movin’ so fast / It’s like I’m movin’ at light speed / Slow down.” 

When I was young, happiness was a fact for me. As I grew older, the struggles of life made my childhood feel like a distant and blissful past. This is probably also the reason why the song from Grieves, Lightspeed, touched me. The song is a recollection of memories, and an encouragement to see the beauty in all things. 

Video:Grieves – Lightspeed

3. Astronautalis – Contrails

‘ Lionel Terray said it the truest, I set it to music / We’re all Conquistadores of the Useless.”

Austronautalis is one of the deepest intellectual hip-hop bands out there. In this song they talk about the tale of a deceiving duo who pretend to be disabled in order to take advantage of generous souls of one city, before moving to another. The idea of the lyrics may sound improbable, but the way that the story is woven is brilliant.

Video: Austronautalis – Contrails

4. Sage Francis – The Best Times

‘ Don’t listen when they tell you that these are your best years / Don’t let anyone protect your tears / It’s best that you hear what they don’t want you to hear / It’s better to have pressure from peers than not have peers.”

Is there any need to comment on this superb song? The lyrics above already speak for themselves. “The Best Times” from Sage Francis is basically a lyrical memoir, and a home-run for the artist. He managed to deal with his childhood and re-tell his experiences while also reflecting on them. The message is also optimistic, because he tells future generations that it can only get better as you grow older, and they should never give up.

Video: Sage Francis – The Best of Times

5. Eyedea & Abilities – Smile

” I can only build if I tear the walls down / even if it breaks me I won’t let it make me frown / I’m falling but no matter how hard I hit the ground / I’ll still smile.’

Eyedea has passed on, but this music will live on forever. “Smile” is a superb example of compassion and optimism. The artists show that no matter how thick the walls are, or how much it will hurt to take them down, it is all worth it in the end. Whatever you do, you have to smile.

Video: Eyedea & Abilities – Smile