Songs You've Heard But Probably Didn't Know Were Jazz!

Never heard jazz before? Don't worry - chances are, you actually have! A lot of popular music is inspired from the genre. Here are some examples.

'Jazz'! The mention of the genre conjures up several images: Musical expertise, suits, trumpets and sax... It's also a genre that several people think is 'above them' and only for music connoisseurs, thanks to its colourful terminology (7th chord!), complicated playing and long songs.


While the genre is definitely anything but instantly gratifying, jazz grows on you and once appreciated, can be supremely rewarding. While you might be hard-pressed to name famous jazz songs, the genre has influenced popular culture - from rock to Bollywood. Here's a list of jazz songs you've probably heard.

Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World

One of the most famous jazz songs out there, written by Bob Thiele & George David Weiss, was performed by the legendary Louis. It's found its way into several pieces of pop culture, including movies like Finding Dory, Good Morning, Vietnam and Madagascar. You'll also see it in TV shows like The Simpsons, Gilmore Girls and The Muppet Show!

Alex North: 4 Deuces (A Streetcar Named Desire)

The reason jazz reminds us of so many old movies is... You've probably heard the genre while watching them. Sample this track from the 1951 classic movie.

Gato Barbieri: Last Tango in Paris (Last Tango in Paris)

Jazz can be supremely sensual as well. Exhibit A: This track by tenor sax genius Gato Barbieri.

Justin Hurwitz: Epilogue (La La Land)

While the Oscar-winner centered around jazz, there have been several criticisms saying that it got things wrong about the genre. In any case, it did help introduce people to the genre in some form, which can't be a bad thing at all. So with that spirit, here's the classic end track of the OST.

Justin Hurwitz: Multiple tracks (Whiplash)

If there's one instrument you'll have new respect for after watching a live jazz show, it's the drums. Even among technical death metal circles, a drummer with jazz expertise is revered, and a quick listen to this will tell you why. Jaw, meet floor.

The Simpsons: Jazzman

Anyone who's seen the iconic animated series will know of Lisa's interest in the genre, and her friendship with 'Bleeding Gums Murphy'. While not technically a song, seeing (and listening) to this clip will make you realise that if you've binged on the show, you've probably heard a fair share of jazz.

Bappi Lahiri: Inteha Ho Gayi (Sharaabi)

You probably didn't expect to see Bappida on this list! But the truth is, a lot of 70s and 80s Bollywood music had jazz influences. And while the jury is still out there as to whether some of them can be classified as pure jazz songs, that shouldn't restrict us from using this track as a fine 'did you know!' example. The song has had several covers that (literally) jazz it up - this one by Piyush Kapoor (of Daira / Thaikkudam Bridge fame) is quite superb.

Amit Trivedi: Tommy Gun (Bombay Velvet)

When you get two people as unconventional in their thinking as Anurag Kashyap and Amit Trivedi, you can bet the outcome will be anything but normal. The entire OST of Bombay Velvet was critically acclaimed and drips with gorgeous jazz throughout. Here's a fine example.

Postmodern Jukebox: Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)

And finally, a great way to get introduced to jazz music is by YouTubing the jazz cover of your favourite song. It doesn't matter if it's pop, rock, metal or Indian - chances are, it exists. For instance, this gorgeous version of the Metallica ballad will definitely leave you wanting more.

If that sounded good, you should definitely head to the Ziziland Jazz Fest in Mumbai on July 8th to see some of the country's best jazz musicians in action.

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