Pop Songs Based on Classical Music: Spotify Playlist

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A Spotify playlist of popular songs based on classical music.


It is said that classical music is the foundation of all other genres of music. If that is true, then it would make sense that popular songs would be based on classical music. And, in fact, many popular songs are based on classical melodies.

Here is a Spotify playlist of popular songs based on classical music:

1. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley
2. “Little Mix – The End (Official Video)” by Little Mix
3. “Last Christmas” by Wham!
4. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
5. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
6. “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
7. “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve
8. “AIR” by Bach
9.”Für Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven

“Classical” Elements in Pop Songs

Most people would never guess that some of their favorite pop songs are based on classical music. In fact, many modern pop songs contain elements of classical music, whether it be the melody, harmony, or even the lyrics.


There are many ways that composers can create memorable melodies. In classical music, some of the most common devices include repeating a phrase (often with variations), inverting a phrase, or playing with expectations by temporarily withholding or delaying the resolution of a phrase. Melodies often make use of “stepwise” motion, meaning that successive notes are moving up or down in pitch by no more than a whole step. This gives the melody a sense of forward momentum and can make it easier to remember.

One of the most famous examples of a melody based on stepwise motion is the theme from Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.” The opening four notes (sometimes referred to as the “fate” motif) are all moving by whole steps, and this kind of motion continues throughout the melody. Other examples include the first themes from Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 6.”

Chord Progressions

Popular songs often use chord progressions that are borrowed from classical music. A chord progression is simply a series of chords played in order. The famous four-chord sequence known as “I-V-vi-IV” appears in countless pop songs. It was famously used by the Beatles in “Let It Be” and “Here Comes the Sun,” and it has been repurposed by everyone from Taylor Swift to the Spice Girls.

Other popular chord progressions include:

I-vi-IV-V (“The Trooper” by Iron Maiden, “Hey Ya!” by Outkast)

ii-V-I (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion)

vi-IV-I-V (“Basket Case” by Green Day, “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls)


Classical music is often thought of as being entirely acoustic, but in reality, there is a long history of classical music written for and performed with electronic instruments. In the 20th century alone, we saw the advent of the theremin, synthesizer, and sampler – all of which have been used by classical composers.

In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence in the popularity of electronic instruments in classical music. Many contemporary classical composers are writing music specifically for electronic instruments, and some are even incorporating pop and rock elements into their work.

One example of this is the band Muse, who frequently incorporate classical instrumentation into their pop/rock songs. Their song “Uprising” features a full orchestra backing the band, and “Exogenesis: Symphony” is a three-movement symphony written specifically for orchestra and rock band.

Other examples of pop songs that incorporate classical instrumentation include “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve, “Every Breath You Take” by Sting, ” enjoy listening to pop songs that incorporate classical instrumentation? Check out our Spotify playlist below!

Spotify Playlist

Pop songs based on classical music? You might be surprised to know that there are quite a few out there. In this Spotify playlist, we’ll explore some of the best examples. From well-known artists like Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga to classical crossover like Andrea Bocelli, there’s something for everyone.

“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

“Shape of You” is a song by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. It was released as a digital download on 6 January 2017 as one of the double lead singles from his third studio album ÷ (2017), along with “Castle on the Hill”. The song entered the UK Singles Chart at number one, becoming Sheeran’s first number-one single in the UK and spending a total of 14 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the chart. In the US, “Shape of You” debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 behind “Bad and Boujee” by American hip hop group Migos. On 16 February 2017, it became Sheeran’s first single to top the Billboard Hot 100. It spent 33 weeks in total on the chart, making it both one of longest-charting singles and highest-peaking songs of all time in that country.

“Closer” by The Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers are a pop/EDM duo who have found massive success with their blend of catchy pop hooks and danceable electronic production. The duo’s 2016 song “Closer” is based on the melody of Johann Pachelbel’s classical piece “Canon in D Major.”

“Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers

One of the most popular songs on Spotify right now is “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers. The song is based on a sample of the classical piece “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy.

If you’re a fan of both pop and classical music, you’ll love this playlist of songs that are based on classical pieces. From Justin Timberlake to Lady Gaga, there’s something for everyone.


We hope you enjoyed our Spotify playlist of pop songs based on classical music. If you have any suggestions of songs that we should add, please let us know in the comments!

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