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Where Mozart Meets Madonna


It all started when I was wedding planning. I attended a wedding-vendor showcase in the city and came across a remarkable and new possibility for musical entertainment. "We'll turn your favorite pop songs into orchestral renditions that can be played live by a string quartet at your wedding reception," they told me. Love the song "Bad Romance" but know your Grandma won't? Take out the vocals, insert the violins, and--voila!

It was an enticing option, even if not my ultimate wedding choice. I couldn't decide -- was this idea absolutely brilliant, or really cheesy?

It's a question that came to mind again while I was listening to Pandora Radio the other day. My work-friendly Chopin station threw me a curveball. Is that Radiohead I hear, or have I been drinking too much coffee? It's Radiohead alright; those chiming sounds of "No Surprises" are unmistakable.

The song came and went, and days passed. But I couldn't get it out of my head: How can I hear that Chopin-esque 90s classic again? Poking around for it online, I found another Chopin Pandora listener who chanced across the song and was not as amused:

No alarms and no surprises, please. Also, no instrumental arrangements of "No Surprises" on my Chopin Pandora channel, please.

But "No Surprises" hails from an album some have called the best of the past 25 years and one of the best of all time! Surely this synthesis is the stuff of musical genius -- those editors at the Music Genome Project must be onto something!

Either that, or I'm a huge cheeseball. It's hard to say, because when it comes to orchestral versions of popular modern tunes, where does one draw the line between corny and classy? How, for instance, would you rate Mario Brothers on piano?

Photograph courtesy of N.Calzas on Flickr.