Five music superstars that used improv to create hits

Music is a universal language, and on Tuesday February 28, The Fictionals are singing our hearts out with Improv X Music aka Impro Allegro! In honour of our comedy mashup, we did some research and discovered some famous musicians who also used improv to craft hit songs! Check them out!

1) The Guess Who – American Woman


Arguably The Guess Who’s biggest hit, American Woman originated from a live jam in a curling rink in Southern Ontario. When lead guitarist and songwriter Randy Bachman broke a string, he fortuitously created the famous riff while tuning the replacement. Lead singer Berton Cummings improvised lyrics to Bachman’s strumming, and American Woman went on to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.

2) The Beatles – A Day in the Life

the-beatlesThe final track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Day in the Life is considered to be one of The Beatle’s best songs. It was also partially improvised, with orchestral sections demonstrating John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s interest in avant-garde composers.

McCartney suggested having the musicians improvise, with Lennon requesting the orchestra provide “a tremendous build-up, from nothing up to something absolutely like the end of the world”. Producer George Martin wrote a loose score for the section, the segment was recorded multiple times, and the four different recordings were combined into a single sweeping crescendo.

3) Madonna – Act of Contrition


A scorching rocker from Madonna’s Like A Prayer album. Act of Contrition was a collaboration between The Material Girl and Prince, who delivers an uncredited guitar solo like no-one else can. Madonna explains her lyrics as improvisation, “That was totally conceived of in the studio. I just started fooling around. Whatever was in my head. It’s totally unedited.”

4) U2 – Bad


One of U2’s most played songs in concert. Bad from The Unforgettable Fire was born as an improvised guitar riff during a jam session at Slane Castle where U2 were recording. Lead singer Bono is known for mashing up different songs during live performances of Bad, ranging from short lyrics to multiple verses.

5) deadmaus ft. Chris James – The Veldt


Canadian record producer and DJ Joel Zimmerman, better known as deadmaus, famously found the lyrics to his track The Veldt on Twitter. After creating the song during a marathon live-streaming session in 2012, Zimmerman discovered Chris James’ vocals via Twitter the next day. He “Yes Anded” the musical discovery, and announced the official track from deadmaus would have James’ vocals on them. The Veldt would become a chart smash around the world.

For more comedy chart-toppers, join us on February 28 at Cafe Deux Soleils for Hot Improv Tuesdays! Doors at 7:30 pm, show at 8 pm, and tickets just $7 or $5 for students!