6 Pop songs that rip off classical music

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Musicians have always lifted tunes from each other. Stravinsky borrowed from Tchaikovsky, who rearranged Mozart, who stole from Beethoven, who took local folk songs and made them his own, and on down the line.

Of course, these composers were always pretty creative when it came to thievery. Here are six recent(ish) pop songs that were either influenced by famous classical melodies, or sample actual tunes and use them in the fabric of the song. I leave it up to you to judge whether or not they do justice to the originals.

1. "Someone to Call My Lover" by Janet Jackson

Released: on the album All for You (2001)
Stolen from: Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie
More specifically: Notice how the songwriters took the original tune in 3/4 and rejiggered it to fit the standard 4/4 beat of a pop song.
Janet Jackson version:

Satie version:

Fast Fact:Janet Jackson is the only performer to be nominated for the Grammy in Pop, Rock, Dance, Rap and R&B.

2. "Road to Joy" by Bright Eyes

200px-Imwideawake.jpgReleased: on the album I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005)
Stolen from: Beethoven's 9th Symphony
More specifically: the "Ode to Joy" tune, based on the poem by German writer Friedrich Schiller. (Road/Ode, get it?)
Bright Eyes version:

Beethoven version:

Fast Fact: Beethoven wasn't the only composer who went deaf. Here are 5 others you should know about.

3. "Symphony in X Major" by Xzibit

200px-Xmajor.jpgReleased: on the album Man vs. Machine (2002)
Stolen from: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major
More specifically: the first movement, entitled Allegro
Xzibit version:

Bach version:

Fast Fact: Bach used his name as a musical theme in one of his greatest works, The Art of the Fugue. In the German system of notation, "˜B' is Bb and "˜H' is B natural, so he was able to use this tune: Bb, A, C, B.

4. "Coming 2 America" by Ludacris

ludi.jpgReleased: on the album Word of Mouf (2001)
Stolen from: Mozart's Requiem
And also: Dvorak's Symphony No. 9
More specifically: Mozart's Dies irae; Dvorak: 4th movement (Allegro con fuoco)
Ludacris version:

Dvorak version:

Mozart version:

Fast Fact: Ludacris' real name is Chris Bridges.

5. "I Can" by Nas

Nas-gods-son-music-album.jpgReleased: on the album God's Son (2003)
Stolen from: Beethoven's Für Elise
Nas version:

Beethoven version:

Fast Fact: The Beethoven piece is actually called Bagatelle in A Minor. But he dedicated it to a certain Elise, which is where the more popular title comes from.

6. "They" by Jem

200px-They_pt1.jpgReleased: on the debut album Finally Woken (2005)
Stolen from: Bach's Prelude in F minor from Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier
More specifically: the Swingle Singers 1963 adaptation
Jem version:

Bach version:

Fast Fact: Jem is short for Jemma Griffiths.

Check out past On Music posts here >>

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January 26, 2009 - 2:15am
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