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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.
20The Kinks
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.
19The Turtles
Happy Together


"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.
18The Zombies
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.
17The 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.
16Love
Forever Changes


"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.
15The Beatles
Rubber Soul


"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.
14The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds


"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.
13Simon 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.
12The Beatles
Help!


"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.
11Procol Harum
Procol Harum


"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.
10The Zombies
Begin Here


"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.
9The 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 hearted.
8The Beatles
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.
7The Ronettes
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 that time.
6The Beach Boys
Smiley Smile


"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.
5The Beatles
Revolver


"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.
4The 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.
3Roy Orbison
Crying


"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 the stratosphere.
2The 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.
1The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds


"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.
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