|Essential 60s Baroque Pop Songs|
These are all perfect entry level songs that I highly recommend to those who like a little Bach rand a little rock.
Something Else by The Kinks
"Waterloo Sunset" - The Kinks had one really fine hit with "You Really Got Me,"
which opened the door for punk and metal down the road of time. Still having to
compete with the Beatles for worldwide acceptance, they composed "Waterloo
Sunset," which had more in common with The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" then any
of their own songs. Though it had no impact on the American charts, it is now
considered a classic baroque ballad with pretty harmonized vocals and everything.
"Happy Together" - The Turtles were just another British invasion band until this
song hit the radio. Here they do upbeat baroque pop as well as any of their peers,
and it showed they weren't as slow on the draw as their name would imply.
Odessey and Oracle
"Care of Cell 44" - Clearly taking its cue from The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be
Nice", The Zombies actually managed to match that songs level of childlike yearning
with a clever ditty about reuniting with a girlfriend who is getting out of prison.
Catchy songs like this make Odessey and Oracle the baroque pop classic it is.
|17||The Velvet Underground|
The Velvet Underground & Nico
"Sunday Morning" - While The Velvet Underground is usually grouped with proto-punk and noise rock, the first track on their
debut displayed a wonderful, proto-dream pop tune that accurately represents the hope and endless opportunity that
Sunday mornings present. While the punk/noise fans will point to "Heroin", I will say
this is the definitive VU song.
"Alone Again Or" - Love released a classic psychedelic/baroque pop album in
Forever Changes, and the opening track sets the mood for the album perfectly.
Strange yet intriguing lyrics are complemented by an assortment of instruments
including horns among other make a compelling work of art.
"Norwegian Wood" - Cited as the first pop song to feature a sitar (The Yardbirds
chickened out), it's actually a really lush ballad that shows the coming of maturity
that The Beatles were experiencing during their middle period.
|14||The Beach Boys|
"Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)" - A gem from Pet Sounds, this
understated masterpiece lulls your mind into a tranquil state of peace. No Brian, I
don't think I can talk. This song has left me speechless.
|13||Simon and Garfunkel |
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme
"Scarborough Fair" - Taking this folk classic into the 20th century, Simon and
Garfunkel created the definitive medieval pop song. Voices weaving in and out like a
4 lane speed racer, one can't help but be lost in its beauty.
"Yesterday" - It's the most covered song in the history of rock n' roll,
it's the first time the fab four used violins, and it is sentimental pop perfection.
Paul, we wouldn't have complained if your songs were all this good.
"Whiter Shade of Pale" - Though it is erroneously been said that the song is a pop
version of a Bach composition, it is true that the chord structure is based on Bach's
work. The organ plays the lead role with a majestic melody that has made it one of
the most famous baroque pop songs.
"She's Not There" - Though it doesn't utilize any classical style instruments aside
from the rock organ, this early Zombies classic boasts the breathy vocals and
interesting harmonies always associated with the genre. If you're not hooked by
that chorus, than you're a lost cause.
|9||The Left Banke|
Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
"Walk Away Renee" - This could very well be the first actual baroque pop single.
Violins, harpsichord and flute run this track, and the sentimental lyrics of unrequited
love sure drive the point. This is sad, beautiful, and undoubtedly for the baroque-en
Magical Mystery Tour
"Strawberry Fields Forever" - Brian Wilson said that he had to stop his car after
hearing this Beatles classic on the radio. Though one can hear the influence of
Brian's own masterpiece "Good Vibrations", Brian knew it would take a lot more from
him to compete with the fab four than he could give. This song uses dreamy
mystery and dissonance to create something so completely outside of standard pop
at that time. The Beatles made it very clear. They were not going to rest on their
laurels just yet.
Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
"Be My Baby" - Phil Spector is best remembered as the producer who popularized
the "wall of sound" production style before it became a cliche, and this track is
where it started. Spector got a 200 piece orchestra to fill in this little love song he
wrote for the lovely girl group. This inspired Brian Wilson to emulate the sound on
his next recordings. It's easy to see why, as the emotive bridge instrumental and
violins in the last chorus give this song more power than any other pop song at
|6||The Beach Boys|
"Good Vibrations" - Upon release, this was easily the most gloriously produced pop
single ever recorded. While it took Brian Wilson months just to finish his vision of a
"pocket symphony", and some like Pete Townsend claimed it to be too busy, it has
stood the test of time as a classic in brilliant songwriting taken to the next level
with a lot of takes, money, and instruments. Though the Beach Boys had
experimented with the theremin on Pet Sounds, its inclusion in this song is what
most people remember as the first to use an electronic synthesizer. The extended
smile sessions version is highly recommended too.
"Eleanor Rigby" - While other artists such as Roy Orbison and The
Left Banke had featured the heavy use of violins in their songs, Eleanor Rigby took
it up a notch and is a baroque pop classic. The song is so immediate and engaging
that it takes a while to realize there are no drums at all.
|4||The Moody Blues|
Days of Future Passed
"Nights in White Satin" - Though this would later be identified with progressive rock,
The Moody Blues always had a sense of catchy melody that was more in line with
the baroque pop bands of the day. Whereas the Beatles had experimented with
strings and the mellotron, the Moody Blues took it to the limit by hiring a full
orchestra and composing romantic pieces best exemplified by this #1 hit.
Thundering percussion and a flute solo make this an essential to any looking
for timeless music.
"Crying" - While it's hard to pinpoint when and where "baroque pop" got its start, few
could deny that Roy Orbison's recordings in the early 60s where far ahead of
everyone else. This song is easily the most powerful, giving Roy a
chance to show off his breathtaking falsetto and high belts with violins lifting it to
|2||The Left Banke|
Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
"Pretty Ballerina" - I think I played this song on repeat for 2 hours straight when I
first found it. Thanks to a fascinating explanation on youtube by Leonard Bernstein,
I realized that the song is so haunting due to it's utilization of the lydian and
myxolydian modes. Basically, the piano melody is the catchiest of all time and the
lyrics fit the dreamlike elegance of the whole thing.
|1||The Beach Boys|
"God Only Knows" - One of my all time favorite songs, the Beach Boys never
sounded so beautiful. The lyrics display a kind of irrepressible longing that few
songs can match. Simultaneously simple and complex, the melody is gorgeous even
with its odd mode changes throughout. However, it is the final high harmony that
gets my vote as the most beautiful vocal harmony ever recorded. I'm not surprised
it makes Sir McCartney cry.