The Best Musical Performances, On The Subway
The Lion King cast surprised passengers with their impromptu song on the subway, we look at other musicians who have given subterranean busking a pop.
Anyone who has ever travelled on the London Underground or the New York subway system knows that the experience is usually a dull and laborious affair. The carriages are sweltering and filled with people trudging to and from work, trying to avoid eye contact with everyone else despite the intense proximity of fellow passengers. All of these facets render the latest internet viral sensation as a harm-warming act to enliven the dreary public transport experience.
Musicians like to show off their talents on the subway, apparently [Getty/Spencer Platt]
Earlier this summer, members of the cast from the Broadway hit Lion King broke into spontaneous song on the New York A-train. The resulting video is currently doing the rounds on social media. The A Cappella version of ‘The Circle Of Life’ leaves many passengers enthralled, clearly delighted to have their journey brightened by the performers impressive talents sing and clap along to the spectacle. Others, however, react with a passive indifference with a few even keeping their headphones in through the song’s entirety. But the Lion King cast’s impromptu performance is far from the first to take place on a subway system. We take a look at some other examples.
The crooner went down a storm on the New York underground.
In 2013, in a PR stunt to promote his then upcoming album To Be Loved, Michael Buble performed an a cappella treat for unsuspecting commuters. With an accompanying vocal group and microphone setup, the performance was far from impromptu. “Singing in the New York subway is something that’s been done for years and years, and I feel like it’s the most authentic, organic way to make music.” Despite the contrived nature of this performance, passers-by seem enthralled to witness the singer in such close quarters, given that Buble spends most of his time entertaining in cavernous arenas across the globe.
Few people payed heed to violin virtuoso when he played a 43-minute piece on the subway.
Highly esteemed classical violinist Joshua Bell didn’t perform on the subway per se, but this social experiment certainly can’t go without mention. In 2007, armed with a violin worth more than most people’s houses, virtuoso Bell performed a flawless rendition of Bach’s D minor Chaconne to commuters. During the 43 minute performance, in which over a thousand people walked pass Bell, he collected just $32 in change, not even enough to purchase a ticket to one of Bell’s own gigs. What’s more, only seven people stopped to listen to this phenomenally talented violinist for more than a minute.
Lavigne earned $16 for her busking efforts.
Eager to show her grip of reality hadn’t been lost to the glittering lights of Hollywood, Lavigne took to the New York subway for an impromptu performance in 2011. With guitarist and percussionist in tow she delivered a selection of her hits on stations and in subway cars. Passengers however, were less forthcoming with their tips to the “Sk8r Boi” singer, awarding her just $16 for her efforts which she duly awarded to a homeless individual.
Rick Springfield delivered the hits to a handful of lucky fans.
1980’s pop relic Rick Springfield also saw the promotional potential of New York labyrinthine public transport system as he treated passengers to a slew of hits ahead of the release of his new album, Songs For The End Of The World. Despite making a whopping $3 from passengers, the wall of cell phone cameras directed at Rick suggests passengers were in fact enthralled by the performances of such hits as “Jessie’s Girl”, “Rollover Bethlehem” and “I Hate Myself”.
Next page: Kesha on the subway