Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Hooked on Classics" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  0799
Date:  10/31/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  10
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Dance, Classical Crossover

Pop Bits:  The success of the "Stars on 45" single spawned a lot of imitators, but usually the projects consisted of pop music from different decades or artists. And then this came along. Musician/arranger Louis Clark thought that a similar "Stars on" formula could work with classical pieces. He stitched together famous themes from classical works into one song, conducted the Royal Philharmonic's performance of the piece, and then set it all to the beat of an electronic Linn drum machine. The result was this single that unexpectedly found its way into the Top 10. A full album was issued with different themed songs in the same concept and the single's success propelled the LP to #4. Although classical purists abhorred the whole project, the one thing it did accomplish was to introduce classical music to a younger audience, which is not a bad thing. Although there were follow-up albums in the series that sold well, this would be the only single from the "Classics" series to reach the chart; making Louis Clark and the Orchestra one-hit wonders. The series would also bleed into other genres as "Hooked on Swing" and others would be released.

ReduxReview:  Okay, I will admit it. I bought this record. I was a band geek (but not a classical aficionado) and the blending of the two genres was a lot of fun. And it does remain fun. When I hear it now though it is through nostalgic ears that bring back memories of that time. I don't consider this a great song in anyway, but it does bring a smile to my face even though it really does butcher great classical pieces. It leaves me a bit torn on a rating. My nostalgic side wants to rate it a 7, but my sensible side says to give it a 3. I guess I'll just split the difference...

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This was not Louis Clark's first venture into pop music. Beginning with "Eldorado," Clark was the orchestra/choir conductor for the Electric Light Orchestra and would also assist in the arrangements. He eventually toured with the group on keyboards.  2) This single was not the first to combine pop/dance with classical. Walter Murphy scored a #1 hit in 1976 with "A Fifth of Beethoven," a disco version of Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony." Murphy's disco version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" called "Flight '76" also hit the chart reaching #44 the same year. Murphy went on to write music and themes for TV shows including "Family Guy" and "American Dad."


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