Cello Duo Scores YouTube Hit with Heavy-Metal Cover

Monday, February 24, 2014 - 04:00 PM

2Cellos play AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' 2Cellos play AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' (Youtube)

It may be the first time in modern history that a cello recording has been noticed by People magazine, Jambase.com and the heavy-metal fan site Loudwire: the crossover cello duo known as 2Cellos has scored a viral video hit with a theatrical cover of the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck.”

In a video created for the track, the duo – comprised of Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser – take the stage wearing 18th century-style costumes to play for an audience of corseted women and powder-wigged men who have come to enjoy some refined chamber music. But the genteel salon atmosphere soon gives way to rock 'n' roll debauchery and, well, you can guess what happens next.

2Cellos's “Thunderstruck” video has received nearly 3.5 million views since it was posted on February 18 – numbers which build on the group’s sizable YouTube-based following.

The classically-trained cello duo came onto the scene in 2011 with a video rendition of Michael Jackson’s song, "Smooth Criminal." Later that year, they posted a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which has since received more than 2.7 million views on YouTube. They were almost immediately signed to Sony Masterworks, whose roster includes such classical stalwarts like Yo-Yo Ma, Jonas Kaufmann and Leon Fleisher. This year, the group is touring worldwide, including on several dates with Elton John.

As New York Daily News music critic Jim Farber reported on Sunday, the popularity of crossover artists like 2Cellos, as well as pop violinist Lindsey Stirling and the bluegrass mandolin player Chris Thile, is helping to breath life into a struggling classical recording industry. Granted, artists have been crossing the classical-pop divide for decades, but the latest resurgence often has a strong viral video component. Whether fans of these acts move on to traditional classical repertoire remains a contested question.


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Comments [2]

Jared from Greenwich CT

Andrew, nice programming :) I'd add to it but I listen to much harder, darker bands, tad obscure especially for here, it's not unlike hoping for more Stravinsky, Martinu, Hindemith etc. (not obscure at all, but wqxr's playlists are just "standards", dusty 98% of the time).

Anyhow, to be on-topic.. 2Cellos is doing quite a good thing, I do hope it sparks interest in the masses who have no idea what classical music is besides "Ode to Joy" (how many even know it is but an excerpt from the 9th??) or Perhaps Handel's Messiah. There are many fine examples of ensembles who, in a legit fashion, manage to fuse contemporary music within classical architecture. My favorite is the Balanescu String Quartet. They recorded Balanescu's orig compositions but of greater interest are the "fusion" albums. On "Possessed", the quartet transcribes exclusively the music of the legendary electro outfit Kraftwerk, with brilliant results. "Robots", "Autobahn", "Computer Love" and others sound beautiful, chill inducing, whilst sustaining the adrenaline most of the time. -I urge everyone to give a listen, esp if you love chamber music!!

Feb. 27 2014 11:31 AM

METALLICA and LANG LANG, Dave Mustaine of MEGADETH and the San Diego Symphony, 2Cellos and AC/DC?

I propose WQXR add a late-night hour of heavy classical metal to their programming.

I can already imagine the first program:
Bach in Black
Ride the MoonLightning Sonata
Fade to Bach

Feb. 25 2014 12:22 PM

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