Carl Orff's O Fortuna in popular culture
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In 1935–36, the 13th-century poem "O Fortuna" was set to music by the German composer Carl Orff for his twenty-five-movement cantata Carmina Burana. The composition appears in numerous films and television commercials and has become a staple in popular culture, setting the mood for dramatic or cataclysmic situations. For instance, it is used to portray the torment of Jim Morrison's drug addiction in the film The Doors. In 1983, Doors' keyboardist Ray Manzarek released his third solo album, Carmina Burana, which is an interpretation of the piece in a contemporary framework.
"O Fortuna" has been called "the most overused piece of music in film history", and Harper's Magazine columnist Scott Horton has commented that "Orff’s setting may have been spoiled by its popularization" and its use "in movies and commercials often as a jingle, detached in any meaningful way from its powerful message." Its contemporary usage is often joking or satirical in nature, owing to its oversaturation in popular culture.
In popular culture
- 1981: In Excalibur, when King Arthur and his knights ride into battle.
- 1984: In the 1984 film Speed.
- 1989: in the 1989 film Glory.
- 1991: In The Doors, Oliver Stone's biographical film of the American rock band.
- 1992: In the film Last of the Mohicans, the piece 'Massacre/Canoes' by Trevor Jones draws from it directly.
- 1995: In "Tales from the Hood" film, the ending scene.
- 1999: In The General's Daughter film.
- 1999: In The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc film.
- 1999: In Detroit Rock City, the scene where the four boys, after losing their concert tickets, and apparently having no way of recovering them, beat each other up to make it appear as though they had been mugged so they can get into the concert.
- 2002: In Jackass: The Movie, a reality comedy film.
- 2003: In Cheaper by the Dozen, at the end of Dylan's party scene.
- 2007: In Beowulf: Prince of the Geats as Beowulf discovers the sword to slay the Helldam.
- 2009: In Capitalism: A Love Story (2009 documentary film).
- 2009: In the Disney live-action film G-Force, when the Guinea Pigs in the balls race against the car through the fireworks.
- 2011: In the 2011 film by Yorgos Lanthimos Alpies, in the opening scene.
Also, "O Verona", track 2 on the so-called (mainly orchestral) "Volume 2" of the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, is composer Craig Armstrong's pastiche of "O Fortuna", although not a direct version of it.
In film trailers
- 1989: In the trailer for the 1989 film Glory, although the actual film score was composed by James Horner and sung by The Boys' Choir of Harlem. (Orff's Carmina Burana is not used in the finished film.)
- 1994: Used in the cinematic trailer for the film Léon: The Professional.
- 1999: In the trailer for the film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
- 2009: In the trailer for the film Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
- 2017: In the trailer for the film Fist Fight.
In TV series and specials
- 1978: In James Burke's BBC series Connections in several episodes.
- 1981-1991: In the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, whenever Rodney sees his nephew Damien, who was named after the child in The Omen. This has led to a common false belief that the piece appears in The Omen.
- 1990: In The Far Side animated special, it was played in a scene where a man fell into a pen of gorillas at a zoo.
- 1992: The opening bars were used as a theme for the first three seasons of Rox beginning in 1992.
- 1994: On a sixth season episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000", the mad scientists challenge Mike and the Bots to write theme songs for themselves. Tom Servo is particularly excited, and sings a very self-praising song to the tune of O Fortuna.
- 1999: In the first-season episode of That 70s Show, "Hyde Moves In", it is used in Kelso's fantasy reaction to seeing Jackie while sick in bed without having fixed her hair and makeup.
- 2003: The selection appears in a 2003 episode of the television series The King of Queens, entitled "Clothes Encounter" (Season 5, Episode 21). The music plays in anticipation as an infant is about to spit up his meal (consisting of blueberries) on Carrie Heffernan's brand-new expensive designer dress.
- 2007: In the 2007 Christmas television special Shrek the Halls, plays as Shrek makes his way to the bookstore.
- 2009: On Glee, Season 1, Episode 7, in scenes between Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester.
- 2009: On The Simpsons, in season 20, episode 13, "Gone Maggie Gone", and in a commercial in season 21, episode 2, "Bart Gets a 'Z'", performed by a convent of nuns.
- 2005: In the American Dad! episode "A Smith in the Hand" when Francine drives home after forgetting her underwear, almost catching her husband Stan masturbating.
- 2010: In Blue Mountain State, it was played during the chocolate cookie race in season 1 episode 1, "It's Called Hazing, Look it Up".
- 2012: Naan - Tamil language crime thriller film.
- 2014: In the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode, "Halloween II", the song is sung by Scully as Jake enacts his plan to steal Captain Holt's watch.
- 2014: In Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, An organist plays it for Neil deGrasse Tyson on the organ of the Abbey of Benediktbeuern.
- 2014: In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra" when Marshall is about to slap Barney at the beginning.
- 2016: In the second-season episode of "Scream Queens", when Chanel Oberlin and Dean Munsch are fighting for the right to win a trip to Blood Island.
In live and reality TV and radio
- 1998: During The Undertaker's entrance at WrestleMania XIV.
- 1998: While The Undertaker was crucifying Stone Cold Steve Austin on Raw is WAR.
- 2002: On Brazilian reality television show Popstars when 6,000 girls first auditioned at Anhembi Sambadrome (aired on Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão).
- 2010: On Britain's Got Talent, the 2010 winner Spelbound used it as its audition piece and in the final.
- On The Sean Hannity Show on talk radio, as bumper music.
- Before the start of The X Factor, and also as the entrance theme for the judges.
- On The Howard Stern Show, whenever show producer Gary Dell'Abate enters the studio.
- In a Survivor (Tocantins) episode, while Benjamin "Coach" Wade was stretching in the water, marking the first time the show used a nonoriginal piece of music.
- On I'm on Setanta Sports, played by Sven-Goran Eriksson to announce the arrival of "The Boy Rooney" (Wayne Rooney).
- On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien when a video or picture of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is shown.
- On The Rachel Maddow Show, in a parody of ads from the Republican Party attacking the Democratic Party.
- On Fei Cheng Wu Rao (a Chinese dating game show hosted by Meng Fei), the music plays when the man is rejected by all of the 24 ladies on stage.
- 2016: The satirical spoof of the second US general-election, presidential debate of 2016 on Saturday Night Live featured about six seconds of "O Fortuna" behind the early action. Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin playing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump respectively, having waved in character to the comedy-show audience, faced each other. In the actual debate the candidates had not shaken hands at the outset and in the spoof this fact was dramatized with a crouched, wrestling-style ("neutral position") circling and then a 'faux-' or 'near'-handshake, with no dialogue and with Orff's choral music for soundtrack. The two disengaged then, proceeded to their respective podiums and the debate commenced.
- Early 1970s: Ending used throughout 30-second British TV adverts for Old Spice aftershave lotion.
- 1999: On Brazilian TV network Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão, used on ad campaign with new graphics celebrating 18th Anniversary.
- 2005: In a Carlton Draught beer ad called Carlton Draught: Big Ad.
- 2014: In a commercial for Hershey's Spread.
- 2015: For a Domino's commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLIX, a piece from the ending cantata is heard as explosives tear down a Domino's Pizza sign and the announcer says they are dropping the word "Pizza" from their name to emphasize their non-pizza products.
- 2018: An Applebee's commercial for riblets and chicken tenders
In video games
- In The Sims Medieval video game, used several times including a quest of the name and a book entitled, "O, For Tuna!".
- In the video game "The Battle Cats", there is a boss theme that closely resembles "O Fortuna".
- In the classic video game Final Fantasy VII, the final boss theme "One-Winged Angel" borrows lyrics from O Fortuna.
- 2009: At every Pittsburgh Pirates home game, in a video on the Jumbotron. It is uncertain when this practice began; but it was not done in 2008, resuming in 2009.
- The Arizona State Sun Devil Marching Band plays the opening every time the team gets a 3rd down.
- The Washington Redskins run onto the field at the start of the game as it is played.
- The New England Patriots play it just before they run on the field to "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers play the song before the opening tip of each home game.
- 2013–2016: Used in the Drivers' Introduction at the Daytona 500.
- 1987: The Ozzy Osbourne live album Tribute, compiled from recordings of his 1981 tour, opens with "O Fortuna" as Osbourne arrives on the stage. This was typical for his live performances of that era. "O Fortuna" was omitted from the album's 1995 remaster.
- 2008: In the 2008 Qlimax, performed by a choir
- 2009: Long-running webcomic Schlock Mercenary has hundreds of construction robots singing "O Fortuna" while they work, freaking out the crew.
- 2010: At the 2010 Classic Brit Awards, performed by Rhydian and Only Men Aloud!.
- 2011: On the opening ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the Struga Poetry Evenings (2011), on August 25, 2011, performed by a chamber orchestra.
- By Rooster Teeth when showing a backwards slow motion clip of Gavin Free crashing through a wall of 200 coke cans. This was shown at the RTX event in Austin, Texas.
- At the matriculation ceremony of the University of Oslo every year.
- F.X. Calderia, the editor of Ship of Theseus, is claimed to have enjoyed listening to this when Calderia wrote up to 30 unpublished novel; doing so as a reminder of Ship of Theseus author, V. M. Straka who adored the music.
Bands and artists who have covered or sampled the work
- Apoptygma Berzerk
- Bullet for My Valentine
- Busta Rhymes in "The End of The World (Outro)" from his 1996 debut album "The Coming."
- Charlotte Church, In Trutina (Voice of an Angel, 1998)
- Chief Keef in his 2015 song "Hate Me Now."
- Clan of Xymox
- The Dawn (band) (Used as an intro track in their live album, "The Dawn: Live")
- The Diplomats (Used in the Single "Get em Daddy" by Camron & The Diplomats)
- Disco Biscuits
- DJ Irene
- DJ Paul (Used in his 2009 single featuring Lord Infamous "You Don't Want It")
- Enigma, on the album The Screen Behind the Mirror, used for the songs "The Gate", "Gravity of Love", "Modern Crusaders", the end of the album's title track and "Camera Obscura"
- Hrefnesholt (sampled in the song "Hrefnesvinter")
- Kaskade (Summer 2015 Intro)
- KMFDM (sample)
- Lord Infamous (Used in the song "Ball Off" in his 2009 Album "After Sics" and is featured in DJ Paul's single "You Don't Want It")
- Lil' Kim (Used in the song "Black Friday")
- Little Mix (Used in the song "Lightning")
- Masters of Hardcore in the anthem "Masters' Symphony" in 2001
- Meek Mill (used in his song "On the Regular" in his 2016 mixtape DC4)
- Michael Jackson (Used in the "Brace Yourself" intro for the Dangerous World Tour, sometimes replaced with a similar operatic piece)
- Ministry (Used as a sample in their single No W)
- Momoiro Clover Z (Used as an intro music for the song "Neo Stargate")
- Motionless in White (Used as an intro song for their first headlining tour.)
- On Mystery Science Theater 3000, it was used as the basis for Tom Servo's personal theme song.
- Nas (used in the song "Hate Me Now")
- Ozzy Osbourne
- Pretty Maids (as intro to their first full-length Red Hot and Heavy (1984) and at concerts)
- Ray Manzarek (his third solo album, entitled Carmina Burana)
- Rhydian Roberts
- DJ Nick Skitz
- The Piano Guys
- Christopher Rouse, in his 1990 composition Karolju
- Thirty Seconds to Mars
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Turetsky Choir Art Group
- Van Helsing's Curse (used at the end of the song "Let Me Prey")
- Vital Remains, on their 2003 album, Dechristianize, on the song "Let the Killing Begin"
- John Williams, on the album, Summon the Heroes
- YB, on the album, God Still has Soldiers 2, on the song "Fire Emoji"
- Eric Friesen, "Carmina Burana: The Big Mac of Classical Music?", Queen's Quarterly, Summer 2011 – via Questia (subscription required).
- "O Fortuna" in popular culture.
- IMDB entry for soundtrack of Oliver Stone's film The Doors
- Jeff Bond, Review of Mission Impossible 2 Archived January 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., Film Score Monthly, July 2000, p. 35.
- Scott Horton, "O Fortuna!", Harper's Magazine, September 7, 2008.
- Hanks, Henry, "'Saturday Night Live' takes on Hillary Clinton email controversy", CNN, March 9, 2015. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- Kruger, Pamela, "Donald Trump Isn't Laughing at Alec Baldwin's SNL Performance", Fortune, October 16, 2016, Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- "Clinton, Trump fail to shake hands at US presidential debate", Raidió Teilifís Éireann, October 10, 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- "Watch: Donald Trump VS Hillary Clinton [The Presidential Debate] On NBC's “SNL” ..." (video; seconds 50 to 56; commenter 'raymesquite' for 'O Fortuna' identification c. October 17, 2016), YouTube, October 15, 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- on YouTube
- Schlock Mercenary 13 Oct 2009
- on YouTube
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- DJ Paul ft. Lord Infamous – U Don’t Want It – Listen Now
- on YouTube
- on YouTube
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- Amacher, Julie (December 12, 2007). "New Classical Tracks: Contemporary carols with a familiar ring". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
- on YouTube