Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Cello Duo Scores YouTube Hit with Heavy-Metal Cover
Monday, February 24, 2014 - 04:00 PM
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.