I know I generally write the Just Listen posts about various versions of one song, but I wanted to do something a little different this time. I have recently fallen in love with a fantastic band- Vitamin String Quartet. They are a group of extremely gifted individuals who perform covers/remakes of popular songs.
While on my recent vacation, I listened to these guys non-stop. I’m a pretty nervous flier. While I’ve been getting better thanks to my many trips to North Carolina, I still have some anxiety. As luck would have it, I had two layovers each way I traveled this time. That’s six plane rides. Kind of overwhelming. I thank my stars that I was able to pop on my headphones and crank up Vitamin String Quartet. The music is so soothing, helping me to get into a relaxed state of being.
I searched youtube high and low to find my favorite performances. It was one of the most fun research experiences I’ve had. I came across a lot of songs I hadn’t heard yet and got to experience my favorites all over again. Enjoy!
“Welcome to the Black Parade” / My Chemical Romance
I was big into MCR in high school. Like, travel eight hours by car to see them play, into them. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered this song. “Welcome to the Black Parade” really lends itself to the strings. The song is so huge and epic sounding and I think the orchestra manages to capture it perfectly.
“Free Bird” / Lynyrd Skynyrd
I can’t listen to this song without busting out in a huge smile, no matter who is playing it. It reminds me so much of my friend Robert; he has basically become one with the song in my memory. This particular version is straight up awesome. The big solo is outrageous.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” / Queen
Did you ever picture yourself head banging on an instrumental piece? Be prepared because there is a 95% chance that will happen when you listen to this beauty.
“Semi-Charmed Life” / Third Eye Blind
I have a big soft spot in my heart for Third Eye Blind. I liked their music a lot when I was a kid. Even though I didn’t understand that a lot of the lyrics were alluding to drugs or suicide or other “adult” issues, that didn’t prevent me from listening to them on heavy rotation. This particular song is just so damn catchy and upbeat, and the orchestra captures that. I had a lot of fun listening.
I have to admit, I prefer this to the original. I’m not really into the playground screams at the beginning. Maybe I’m a buzzkill, but it kind of ruins the song for me. Lucky for me, VSQ skips over that playground malarkey and jumps right into the song with both feet first. And they nail it. The song seems written to be played on the strings.
“Just the Way You Are” / Bruno Mars
A very cool cover of a song I only heard recently. I know, it’s laughable how behind I am on current music. I totally dig this! The lyrics were a little hokey for me, so I like that they were stripped away. The music itself is still quite romantic without killing my buzz.
“Thriller” / Michael Jackson
I wasn’t sure how they would pull this song off but I should have known better by this point. What can’t VSQ do? I enjoyed the chorus in particular. I completely agree with one of the comments posted on the video- I also picture Victorian zombies during an elegant version of the Thriller dance when this song plays. And it is awesome.
“Hello Operator” / White Stripes
Very impressive arrangement. They stayed true to the original song’s flavor while making it their own. I can only imagine how hard this was to play. It’s a pretty funky song and funky is pretty much the last word that comes to mind when I think of a string orchestra.
“Everlong” / Foo Fighters
I love this from the bottom of my heart. The quartet captures the urgency of the song perfectly.
“Black Hole Sun” / Soundgarden
Proof that even grunge can be successfully translated to strings. This just sounds cool to me. I know the word cool isn’t the most sophisticated of the adjectives, but I’m having a hard time finding another word to articulate how it sounds. This is my favorite of all the songs I have heard by VSQ.
I promised myself that I would limit this post to ten songs, otherwise it might start to get a little unwieldy. I can pretty much guarantee that I will be revisiting the brilliance of Vitamin String Quartet and sharing more of their orchestral masterpieces with you. In the meantime, please check out their official site: http://www.vitaminstringquartet.com/v2/