Music

Top 10 Song Adaptations: The Quirky, the Funny, and the Intriguing

Quirky funny song adaptations; cat banjo

Some are quirky; some are funny; some are both. Some are even inspired by books and movies!

Back in Music Mash-Ups: Rock + Chopin, Rock + Opera, I talked about how retellings of fairy tales and books like Jane Eyre (Jane Steele/Jane Slayre) are a lot like mash-ups between different genres of music–and how amazing they both are. But lately I’ve come across some new mash-ups, as well as some looser “adaptations” of music where it’s less about two genres coming together and more about importing a song into a new context (like in the Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley).

The best part is that depending on the song and style, adaptations can be hilarious, moving, or just plain quirky! So without further ado, here are ten song adaptations to brighten your day:

[Note: I generally link to both Spotify and YouTube since some readers have had trouble accessing the Spotify links in the past, but since YouTube videos have the potential to be removed I’ve kept the Spotify links, as well.]

1. Heavy metal version of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Whether you love or hate Taylor Swift, the band From Lambs to Lions did something amazing here. My favorite part? The deep-voiced “WEEEE” starting each line of the chorus. Classic.

2. Ragtime versions of Für Elise, Clair de Lune, and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

This video should be listed under the encyclopedia’s entry on “perfection.” I also just discovered that this guy posted a link to buy the sheet music in the video’s description, so guess who may or may not be definitely learning how to play this in the future…

3. “A Postcard from Henry Purcell” from the movie Pride and Prejudice

On a more serious note, when Lizzy and Darcy dance together at the ball and all of the other dancers disappear as though they were alone, you’re actually hearing an adaptation of a piece by Henry Purcell from the 17th century! I can’t help but wonder why the powers that be decided to arrange this particular piece for this scene instead of writing something. It’s like no other music could represent the tension and emotion of this moment better than Purcell’s piece–but of course he wrote it way before the movie was even conceptualized, not to mention way before Jane Austen wrote the novel in the first place. How cool is that?

For comparison, here’s a Spotify recording of Purcell’s original version for orchestra:

Fun fact: this theme is also the basis for Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” which coincidentally is a huge part of Wes Anderson’s movie “Moonrise Kingdom”:

(I’ve just linked to the first minute of Britten’s piece here, but there are a lot more mini-sections to check out if you want!)

4. Veggie Tales (Remix) by Shama Mrema

That’s right: your favorite singing vegetables from childhood just got a RAP REMIX. The scary thing is that sometimes you don’t even realize that there’s been a gaping hole in your life until moments like these…

5. A creepy folk song: “Unto the Hills: All the Pretty Little Horses” by George Crumb

Ready for something completely different? Still-living composer George Crumb wrote some of the creepiest versions of folk songs you’re likely to hear in your entire life. There’s a whole set of them, but his version of “All the Pretty Little Horses” is especially chilling. Crumb actually writes a lot of music that adapts other music; it’s part of his style! So if you liked this, check out “Golliwog Revisited” (a play on Debussy’s famous ragtime-y piece, “Golliwog’s Cakewalk”) or “Canticle of the Holy Night” from “A Little Suite for Christmas” (for a creepy version of the Coventry Carol).

6. The Circle of Life in the style of Gregorian chant

Petition to find Donald Fraser and give the man a giant bear hug, because this Gregorian chant version of “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King is absolutely magical. Can’t you just imagine a bunch of monks slowly gathering in a chapel while they sing this song, like the nuns do in The Sound of Music? Why does this work so well?? By the way, if you like this, he made two entire CDs of classical versions of Disney tunes. 

7. “United States of Eurasia [+ Collateral Damage]” by Muse, ft. a Chopin nocturne

For a rock song that starts out sounding like something straight out of Queen, the ending is perhaps the most unexpected of the adaptations to make this list. But the shocking thing to me, actually, is how little it’s adapted. There are a few background vocals added alongside some nature/everyday sounds, but this piano piece from way back in the 1800s is played basically on its own to cap off a 2000s era rock song. Amazing.

And while this was one of the songs I already mentioned in the Music Mash-Ups post, I felt it absolutely deserved to be on this list, too!

8. Lang Lang plays Chopin with an orange

Speaking of Chopin, Lang Lang creates his own sort of “adaptation” of Chopin by playing it with…an orange. I don’t know about you, but I would watch an entire YouTube series of music played with various fruits and vegetables. (Speaking of which, if anyone figures out how to play the Veggie Tales rap remix with an actual vegetable, I will personally buy you a trophy.)

For comparison, here’s the original piece played with fingers like a normal person:

The fact that the “real” and “orange” versions of this piece sound so similar is pure gold.

9. Harp version of Vltava (Moldau) from Mà Vlast (or My Country) by Bedrich Smetana

On another more serious note, this is one of the most enchanting pieces of music I’ve ever heard. I love Smetana’s original version written for orchestra, too, but there’s something about this song on the harp that made me fall head over heels. I hope you enjoy it, too!

10. “You’re So Vain”…by Marilyn Manson

And finally, while you’re probably familiar with Carly Simon’s version my personal favorite has to be this hardcore rock version by Marilyn Manson. I mean, who WOULDN’T want his dark, gravelly voice singing “I bet you think this song is about you,” plus a killer electric guitar solo?

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So what music adaptations do you love? Let me know in the comments below!

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16 thoughts on “Top 10 Song Adaptations: The Quirky, the Funny, and the Intriguing”

      1. No, I was just thinking of the self-title album, because whenever I looked for anything else by the the years after ‘East Village Opera Company’ was released, that was the only one I found! Looks like we’ve both found some new music today!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Ok…I dropped my jaw on the floor somewhere after hearing rag-time Fur Elise, hold on…

    …that was amazing. And man…I’ve always thought Manson does better covers than he does originals, but that’s top ten material for sure 😀 I remember “You’re So Vain” being one of the first songs I adapted for in-game performance in Lord of the Rings Online.

    Like

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