10 Pop Hits You Didn’t Know Were Inspired By Classical Pieces

Orchestra Central is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Classical music is thought of as old school. But there’s a reason why this genre has established itself in music history. The complex melodies are not only inspiring to listeners but modern-day musicians too. Did you know that these 10 pop hits drew inspiration from classical masterpieces?

Blending Musical Genres

From timeless ballads to chart-topping hits, numerous iconic pop songs have drawn influence from the rich tapestry of classical compositions. These ten such songs beautifully incorporate elements of classical music, showcasing the enduring allure and cross-pollination between these two starkly different musical genres.

1. Rolling in the Deep – Adele

Woman Hearing Pop Song
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Adele’s powerful anthem, “Rolling in the Deep,” finds inspiration in the classical world through Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” The emotive depth and soaring melodies of Barber’s piece resonate within Adele’s soulful vocals, creating a song that captures the raw emotion of heartbreak and resilience.

2. All by Myself – Eric Carmen

Couples Hearing Pop Song
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Eric Carmen’s poignant ballad, “All By Myself,” derives its melody from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The sweeping romanticism of Rachmaninoff’s composition is beautifully translated into Carmen’s heartfelt lyrics, resulting in a timeless pop classic that resonates with feelings of loneliness and longing.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Young Handsome man Hearing Pop Song
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen stands as a true masterpiece that transcends genres, seamlessly blending rock, opera, and classical elements into an epic and unforgettable musical journey. The song’s complex vocal harmonies, intricate arrangements, and operatic influences pay homage to classical music’s grandeur and artistic vision.

With its distinctive structure, powerful vocals, and emotionally charged lyrics, “Bohemian Rhapsody” pushes the boundaries of what a pop song can be, capturing the imagination of generations and solidifying its status as a cultural phenomenon.

4. Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles

Woman Hearing Pop Song
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” showcases the band’s artistic evolution, incorporating classical influences in its arrangement. The haunting strings accompanying the song draw inspiration from classical string quartets, evoking a sense of melancholy and introspection that complements the lyrics’ introspective narrative.

5. Viva la Vida – Coldplay

Woman Hearing Pop Song With Headphone
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” draws its main melody from Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D. The song’s uplifting and anthemic quality owes much to the timeless and recognizable melody of Pachelbel’s classical composition, blending it with Coldplay’s signature alternative rock sound.

6. Clocks – Coldplay

Man Hearing Pop Song With Headphone
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In “Clocks,” Coldplay infuses their alternative rock style with a minimalist classical influence. The repeating piano riff in the song is reminiscent of the repetitive patterns found in the works of Philip Glass and other minimalist composers, creating a mesmerizing and hypnotic effect.

7. Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve

Couples Hearing Music
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” samples an orchestral version of The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” which itself drew inspiration from classical compositions. The song’s sweeping string arrangement brings a sense of grandeur and melancholy, perfectly capturing the introspective and bittersweet nature of the lyrics.

8. Numb – Linkin Park

Man Listening To Music Outdoors
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Linkin Park’s “Numb” features a piano motif that bears similarities to the opening of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. This classical influence adds a touch of elegance and introspection to the song’s powerful and emotional exploration of inner struggles and the desire for escape.

9. Wake Me Up – Avicii

Couples Hearing Pop Song With Headphone
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” seamlessly blends electronic dance music with folk-inspired melodies played on the acoustic guitar. This fusion, reminiscent of the combination of classical and folk music, creates a unique and infectious sound that resonates with listeners worldwide. The song’s uplifting lyrics and energetic beats make it a true crowd-pleaser.

10. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers

Man Hearing Rock Music
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers may not be a direct adaptation. However, it’s soaring melody and emotional intensity evoke the power and romanticism often found in classical music, particularly in operatic arias. The song’s timeless appeal lies in its ability to stir deep emotions and captivate audiences with its heartfelt vocals and lush instrumentation.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here