Netflix’s use string versions of Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande has tripled the streaming figures for Vitamin String Quartet
The success of Netflix’s Bridgerton has produced some unexpected trends, such as huge increases in people searching online for Regency fashion items including corsets. The latest trend is a dramatic increase in people streaming classical covers of current pop songs.
Vitamin String Quartet has seen a 350% increase in streaming of their music since December’s release.
Alexandra Patsavas (the show’s music supervisor) stated that it was obvious that classical covers would be featured from pre-production because they fit the show’s aesthetic, which is both period and modern.
Patsavas said that they always looked at period sources through a modern lens. He also started collecting orchestral covers in preproduction. “I was not surprised they connected, but 350% is a huge number, I wouldn’t have predicted that.”
Patsavas stated that the first question Chris Van Dusen (showrunner) and Shonda Rhimes (executive producer), asked was “How would Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and Maroon Five make sense in this situation?”
They suggested classical covers without lyrics. This would mean that an audience “groks” a piece of music and can draw a new meaning from it when they recall the lyrics. It was the surprise of hearing covers that the audience might not recognize right away. It might take some time,” Patsavas said.
James Curtiss, Vitamin String Quartet’s director for A&R said, “They want the nail on the coffin, but they need to be subtle.” Instead of putting the lyrics in front, the melody evokes them and conveys that message subliminally.
The group was formed in late 1990s. They specialize in classical covers. Curtiss and Leo Flynn, brand manager, said that they focused on songs that were “very female-driven”, and they met the brief.
Ariana Grande’s Thank U Next, Maroon 5s Girls Like You and Shawn Mendes’s In My Blood were the final songs. Celeste’s Strange, Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams, Celeste’s Strange and Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy were also included in the final selection. Vitamin String Quartet stated that Bad Guy was the most difficult cover due to Eilish’s unique production and singing style.
Curtiss stated that the group was in “ecstatic surprise” at how the songs had taken off online. I don’t believe they expected this to be so huge. “This seems to have been a very transcendental and of-the moment thing that I don’t think any one of us expected,” said he.
According to the group, this music is typically used in one of these two ways. The first is for a wedding or romantic moment. Monica and Chandler were married in Friends.
Curtiss stated, “You have this kind of traditional, elegant, and classical wedding but you want this modern repertoire.”
He called the second an “interesting and anachronistic juxtaposition”, where the music creates an atmosphere while making a statement. For example, the use of Radiohead’s Motion Picture Soundtrack as a soundtrack in a Westworld scene.
According to the ensemble Bridgerton falls into this category. They said that their modernization of costume drama conventions such as colour-conscious casting and classical contemporary was reflected in Bridgerton’s approach to making classic contemporary. “We took what was classic and made it new, and similarly we took what was fresh and made it classic.” Flynn stated that he believes the show is doing the exact same thing.
“Speaking to the idea of universality across peoples and across genres and watching the work come together really clicks – there is a magic to it, it takes off.”