This month’s 75-85/150-170 BPM running list is all classical, instrumental and/or soundtrack, all the time. Perhaps you aren’t interested in classical-leaning music on even your best, most pretentious days. Well, we promise this playlist won’t put you to sleep AND is a great running playlist. You might even grow some classical love in the process.
As always – you’re welcome to tl;dr straight to the list (but don’t think we won’t know, cheater!).
“Beethoven’s 5 Secrets”: the album from whence this comes is clearly a mainstream-ification of classical for the unwashed masses: it’s not fussy or difficult, and this track in particular has a consistent beat and is just plain lovely to hear. While this track is at the very low end of runnable BPM (for us!) it’s a great long-stride warm-up that will help flush those murderous winter thoughts from your heart, to be replaced with robins and sunshine.
“Overture To Opera ‘Ruslan and Lyudmila'” and “Cello Concerto In C, H.VIIb, No.1: 3. Finale (Allegro molto)”: we have nothing clever to say about these except they’re poppin, they’re poppin, they’re poppin’ – we ain’t frontin’.1 One of the main challenges in scooping up runnable classical pieces is that classical music generally is rife with pieces that may have a defined time signature,2 but the tempo of which may speed up or slow down substantially enough throughout the piece to throw off attempts to metronome your running pace, which equals fail. Other pieces may indeed consistently hit your desired BPM, only to be utterly snooze-inducing or lacking any overt beat to guide your feet, thus landing in the dustbin of “nope.” So coming across lively pieces like these which hit the target BPM AND are just zingy and delightful is happiness. For the record though, we’re never going to get over our dislike of the harpsichord, which makes an appearance in “Cello Concerto In C, H.VIIb, No.1 : 3. Finale (Allegro molto);” luckily it’s like cilantro in Chipotle’s lime cilantro rice – subtle and inoffensive enough to keep us from wanting to murder anyone over it.
“Swan Lake Suite Op. 20: No. 1: Scène”: yes – it’s that recognizable movement (and really we wouldn’t know a symphonic movement from an overture from a duck) from Swan Lake that we’ve all heard somewhere/somewhen or other, at the very least in 2010’s Black Swan (and if you’ve not seen Black Swan – do you even Natalie Portman, bro?). There are a few instances of build-up/slow-down during the piece that may not nail the 79 BPM exactly, but we find a few missed steps forgivable in the context of running to the whole beautiful piece. Besides, who on Earth would be opposed to offsetting an otherwise miserable half mile with thoughts of Black Swan Natalie Portman? Communists, that’s who.
“1812 Overture Op.49 – Finale”: the beginning of this track is a little lacking in driving beats to set your pace to, but let your pace meander for just a minute because it’s totally worth it for the cannonballs and clanging chimes and the all-hell-breaking-loose of appropriate BPM that will ring in your victory over Napoleon’s invading army! Er, your victory over that ½ mile patch of sidewalk anyway. Viva la Putin!
Requiem for a Tower: this is the track you want to pull out for that last mile or so when you’re dragging to give you that little boost of “rawrRRRRR!” We thought this was some actual legit classical piece, but turns out that this track is none other than a version of “Lux Æterna/Requiem For A Dream” that was created specifically for…Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Clearly the breadth and depth or our classical music knowledge is vast and wide.3 Oh, well whatever. We’re sure no one recalls this track from the official Two Towers trailer, certainly not us. And most certainly no one would have watched said trailer over and over obsessively in advance of the theatrical release such that this track was etched permanently into their brains. Wow, that would be approaching embarrassing and criminal levels of obsession. Erm, in any case – “Requiem for a Tower” will make you run like the wind, and we promise your won’t get any geek on you in the process.
“Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor” aka “Moonlight Sonata“: at first you’ll be all “hey wait this is just a quiet little piano piece” but it totally works, we promise. The pacing is perfect aside from a few extended notes, and the volume on this version is loud enough to actually hear. We know, we know – “Moonlight Sonata” is supposed to be played all pianissimo, as our piano teacher Mrs. Urban repeatedly admonished us. But given this was the first song we learned to play that sounded both beautiful and like a legit, grown-ass piece of music,4 well who could blame us for wanting to play it fortissimo. Oh, and when you hear birds tweeting at some point in the track, those aren’t bleeding in from outside of your headphones; nope, apparently Jeno Jando was playing his grand piano outdoors when this track was recorded. Or birds were rampant in the recording studio, either way – birds.
“The Planets, Op. 32: I. Mars, the Bringer of War”: if not for Gustav Holst’s seven-movement suite “The Planets,” we’re not sure how sci-fi soundtracks would otherwise have found that uniquely space-operatic sound. In fact, our personal favorite soundtrack-er John Williams directly sampled5 “Mars, the Bringer of War” in the opening title of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.6 Who knows, great minds think alike – maybe space opera was destined to have that sound and it was just Holst who was on the bleeding edge of capturing it circa 1914-16. Anyway – it’s a great track to run to, everything menacing and bombastic you want your runnable classical music to be.
“Within Attraction”: ok we know, we know. WE KNOW. YANNI. But no really you guys, just stay with us here:
- just pretend it’s not Yanni and focus on the fact that this whole “Live At The Acropolis” performance is really all about the UK’s awesome Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra
- you guys there’s just SO MUCH FLOWING MAN HAIR going on here:
- really the only thing you can and should care about in this whole track (besides the fact that it’s highly runnable – EYES ON THE PRIZE, PEOPLE!), and the thing that redeems it from all the terrib-awful that is Yanni music is Karen Briggs dueling violins with conductor Shahrdad Rohani. Oh, you don’t know who Karen Briggs is? Let us show you (note: jump to 5:10 to bypass all of the Yanni-in-ecstacy close-ups and metric fucktons of flowing man-locks to cut to the awesome that is Karen Briggs tearing up a violin.)
Ok, let’s wrap this up. Good lord, we’re more exhausted from writing this post (as are you reading it) than we were running five miles earlier today.
Extra points if you recognize “La Danza” from popping up in an old school Looney Tunes cartoon, though hell if our mad internet skills can drum up which one. “Time To Say Good-bye” is surprisingly runnable7. Yeah, yeah – the Vince Guaraldi Trio is technically jazz – but “Linus and Lucy” is classical enough for this playlist. And “Hedwig’s Theme” – this is as close as you’re ever going to get to being at Hogwarts, so get over it.
“Lip Gloss” by Lil Mama; note: these tracks bear no resemblance or reference to Lil Mama’s jam, except insofar as her lip gloss be poppin and she’s to credit for that meme-ing its way permanently into our vocab ↩
i.e drawn almost entirely from Bugs Bunny cartoons, soundtracks and a half-assed eight or so years of piano lessons. ↩
broken chords, ftw! ↩
or “quoted” as the cool classical-music kids call it ↩
Some of us even had the fortune to have seen/heard a performance of the stellar Minnesota Orchestra playing not only portions of “The Planets,” but also selections from soundtracks of Star Wars, Star Trek, and other geeky fare, hosted by Christopher Lloyd, no less. We literally died from the awesome. ↩