Genre Profile: Baroque Pop

Aaron Ong

Over the years, the word "pop" has become increasingly inadequate as a music genre, due to the many different types present in the world. Hence the subdivision of Pop into various different genres, such as Avant-Pop and Electropop. One of the genres becoming more and more well known is Baroque Pop, which refers to Rock music that includes elements of Classical music. Artists record their tracks with instruments not usually associated with rock, although more recently synthesizers have been doing the job as well. Artists have also been known to use samples of famous classical pieces, integrating those pieces with their own original music.

This style of music has its origins in the 1960s, with the Beach Boys and Burt Bacharach commonly cited as being amongst the pioneers of the genre. Perhaps the most famous early example from that era is “Yesterday” by the Beatles. “Yesterday” included a string quartet in its recording back in 1965, and has gone on to become officially the most recorded song in the history of Pop music, with over 3000 cover versions to date.

Certainly, the genre has persisted since then, with many of today’s bands championing that same style. Past issues of The Cut have reviewed albums and concerts from artists such as Arcade Fire, Of Montreal, and Vampire Weekend, who have time and time again included a Baroque feel in their music. Arcade Fire in particular uses a very large variety of instruments. The band's members are equally capable at playing several instruments including the piano, violin, viola, accordion, trumpet, and French horn, to name a few.

Panic! At The Disco is perhaps the most commercially successful band of today associated with Baroque Pop. The band's debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. With notable inspiration from the Beatles, the band took a different cue for their follow up album Pretty. Odd., for which they recorded orchestral arrangements at none other than Abbey Road Studios. While it is believed that this switch in style may not have been too popular with the band’s fans, Panic! At The Disco’s decision shows the insistence of the fact that Baroque music is still very much part of the music scene now.

Not everyone may be a huge fan of the the Baroque genre, but what is clear is that the fusion of Classical instrumentation with today’s Rock music provides a very unique sound, which brings something to the table that normal 4-piece bands cannot.