This discofied little ditty (and it sounds more like a ditty than a tribute to some of the greatest classical musical themes ever produced) takes symphonic pieces from artists as diverse as Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Copeland, Vivaldi and Gershwin and overlays them in a medley with an incessant disco beat in the background.
Members of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra ably play all the instruments. Except the drums.
Oh, the drums.
Kill the damn drums.
Or at least what sounds like a drum machine pulled from a Casio portable keyboard circa 1982.
The producer, Louis Clark, who worked with the fantastic Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) for years, didn’t even bother to add anything like a hi-hat. Or a crash cymbal to punctuate a passage.
Nope, it’s just the same monotonous beat behind a very listenable medley of classical music hits.
But people ate this novelty song up, and soon “Hooked on Classics” by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra reached #10 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1982 making the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra a one-hit wonder.
Something few of the musicians in this “band” would have ever expected.
Then again, maybe it was all calculated. This was the same era that produced the very memorable album titled Saturday Night Fiedler that featured beloved conductor Arthur Fiedler.
I own and cherish this album, along with Saturday Night Fever and Sesame Street Fever that all riff on the same iconic image of John Travolta on the Saturday Night Fever dance floor. And yes, I’ll admit I listened to the “Hooked on Classics” record my parents purchased and parked in the basement stereo for most of 1982 and 1983.
I’ve always said I’m a sucker for a good hook and “Hooked on Classics” has hooks o’ plenty. Perhaps that explains why I also loved “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band. That discofied version of the classics reached #1 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1976.
“Hooked on Classics” was so successful, “Hooked on Swing” by Larry Elgart and His Manhattan Swing Orchestra reached #31 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1982 as well. It was a golden era for instrumental one-hit wonders.
Listen to Hooked on Classics by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Buy Hooked on Classics
Buy Hooked on Classics
Filed under: 1980s · Tags: 1982, A Fifth of Beethoven, Electric Light Orchestra, Hooked on Swing, instrumental one hit wonder, Larry Elgart and his Manhattan Swing Orchestra, novelty hit, novelty song, Walter Murphy