Call it "classical rock." Last season, the Florida Orchestra put symphonic oomph into the paisley freakout of Pink Floyd. Now it's tackling the misty mountain stomp of Led Zep. But why should the hippest orchestra on the planet stop there? How about a show that mixes all sorts of pop music? Here are 10 tracks that would fire up the French horns, wind up the woodwinds. And if the concertmaster can bust out mad rhymes, too, so much the better. — Sean Daly, Times pop music critic
HELL'S BELLS AC/DC, baby! Pull out the gong for the gothic buildup, then call on guest violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (a rock star in her own right) to replace Angus Young's switchblade guitar solo. Awe-some.
Although you might not immediately think of teaming "Ozzy" and "orchestra," Brit heavy-metalists Black Sabbath built their antiwar tune with great swelling crescendoes and percussive might. Call in about 40 extra timpani drums and a whole-hog army of brass.
Rapper Kanye West's breakout hit was an over-the-top, downright symphonic look at the lack of religion in pop. Bring in a gloomy Greek chorus, some dark, ominous strings — and you could spin this sucker into Shostakovich's 5th Symphony. (And no, John Fleming didn't help me with that one.)
The next time the orchestra plans a salute to nationalist composer Aaron "Rodeo" Copland, they should think outside the Americana box. Why not up the ante with Copland's obvious offspring, the big-hearted satirist Randy Newman. "We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay. . ."
HEAT OF THE MOMENT
If I'm a trumpet player in the Florida Orchestra, and the conductor says were going to be saluting '80s prog-pop giants Asia (that's lead guitarist Steve Howe), I'm the happiest guy in the world — and probably the dorkiest, too.
An accomplished orchestra taking on the swooping melodies and cherubic harmonies of Brian Wilson probably isn't a new idea. But saluting the Beach Boys is so money-in-the-bank cool, I'm trying to get things cooking here at home.
SINGLE LADIES (Put a Ring on It)
Now stay with me here, people. Beyoncé isn't such a stretch at all, not if you take the ol' Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops, Fourth of July approach. See what I'm saying? A ton of horns, some crashing cymbals, maybe even a few oboe shenanigans. It'll be bootylicious and patriotic! Uh-oh-uh-oh!
This happens to be my favorite Pearl Jam song, but you could swap in Jeremy or even Alive, which seemingly borrows a dramatic rumble from Beethoven's 5th. A la earlier suggestions of Ozzy, etc., the Seattle band's sturm und drang is just begging for the orchestral treatment. Can you say "contrabassoon"? I think you can.
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke deals in isolation and alienation, and yet his cold, creepy thoughts of girls in Hitler hairdos are tailor-made for warm, sweeping string sections. The high-low angst of (Nice Dream) is another option.
WHERE THE STREETS HAVE NO NAME
Too obvious? Maybe. But the orchestra covering Bono and the lads is going to happen, and it might as well be sooner rather than later. Warm up the vibraphone for the Edge's prickly guitar intro — and save a seat for me in the front row.
Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life column appears Sundays in Floridian.