Rockaria! (3:12)

Cover of ELO's Greatest Hits

From ELO's Greatest Hits and 41 other releases

The novel fusion of orchestral and rock sounds that Jeff Lynne wove together in his hits with Electric Light Orchestra reached a zenith with “Rockaria,” a stunning tune that combined symphonic swells, operatic vocals, 50’s styled guitar riffs and a Beatles-esque melody into one delirious pop song. The story-song lyrics of “Rockaria” offer a fanciful, witty scenario in which a hardcore rock and roller falls in love with a lovely lass who “sings the opera like you ain’t never heard” and decides to teach her how to rock and roll. Lynne plays on the contrast between the differences in their respective worlds, especially in an inspired line where he describes the diva’s favorites in pop-fan terminology: “She’s sweet on Wagner/I think she’d die for Beethoven/She loves the way Puccini lays down a tune/And Verdi’s always creepin’ from her room.” The music also plays up the contrast between its protagonists by alternating swaggering rock-styled verse melodies with an ethereal, wordless aria bridge before joining the two on the finale. Electric Light Orchestra’s recording of “Rockaria” could very well be the most impressive of the group’s recordings thanks to a driving arrangement that seamlessly fuses the mock-aria sections with blasts of hard rock anchored by Lynne’s wailing guitar and Bev Bevan’s stomping drumwork. When these two section blend together for the finale, supported by pulsating strings and a choir, the effect is truly breathtaking. The novelty of the sound and the imagination poured into “Rockaria” should have made the song a hit in America but it failed to achieve the same success of the other singles from A New World Record in the U.

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