by Heather Soulen
Research shows that music affects our brains and our bodies. It can make us laugh, cry, give us chills, empathize and remember events or single seemingly fleeting moments that we’ve long forgotten. When it hits the right cords, music can increase heart rate, dilate pupils, increase body temperature and release the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical which plays an important role in our brains, particularly the reward centers of the brain. The same has been said about orchids, the hunt for orchids and in Victorian era, the eroticism surrounding orchids.
Since the 1960s, there have been several musical groups, albums and songs with orchid-centric names or themes. Journey with us as we explore how orchids have conquered music pop-culture.
Women that Made Orchids Rock!
The Californian pop rock and New Wave band, The Orchids, were formed by two former Runaways rock band members. Their only and ill received album was released in 1980. Some have suggested that they could/should have reached the same level of success as other all-female bands like the Go-Go’s and the Bangles. Sadly, sometimes timing is everything.
In 1992, the R&B, pop and soul all-female band Wild Orchid performed through 2003, and in 2013 they were named number 18 of US Weekly’s ‘Best Girl Groups of All Time.’ Their song “Talk to Me” was featured in the 1997 movie “Fools Rush In” and “It’s All Your Fault” was featured in the film “What Women Want.” Their album “Wild Orchid” received two Billboard Music Award nominations for “Talk to Me” plus two Soul Train Lady of Soul Award nominations, and an American Music Award nomination for Favorite R&B/Soul New Artist. They played their last concert together in 2001 and band member Ferguson, popularly known as Fergie, went on to join The Black Eyed Peas the following year.
Watch Wild Orchid’s video for “Talk to Me”
Men that Made Orchids Rock!
English post-punk band Blue Orchids toured with Echo & the Bunnymen and Nico, a singer-songwriter, lyricist, composer, musician, fashion model, and actress who became famous as a Warhol Superstar in the 1960s. She is also known for her vocals on the Velvet Underground‘s debut album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico.” Blue Orchids were featured on BBC Radio 1, a radio station specializing in modern and current popular music and chart hits. The Blue Orchids, and its various line-ups, continue to tour Liverpool, Manchester and London today.
Legendary Scottish indie band The Orchids began in the late 1980s and continue to make music today. After a brief split between 1995 and 2004, they’ve released three albums including their 2014 album “Beatitude #9” which was well received.
If you like your music heavy, may we tempt you with San Francisco’s metal band Orchid? Formed in mid-late 2000s, their name was inspired by Black Sabbath’s song by the same name. Their latest EP was released in July 2015 to some rave reviews, stating some tracks remind you “a bit of Led Zeppelin and again, heavy Black Sabbath and early Judas Priest/Deep Purple” and that the album is “18 minutes of sylvan bluesy pleasure.”
Watch Black Sabbath perform “Orchid” live:
Songs and Albums that Carry the Orchid Name
Black Sabbath’s instrumental song “Orchid” was featured on side two of their 1971 and third studio album “Master of Reality.” This haunting composition with a sense of yearning was created by Black Sabbath guitarist Tommy Iommi
Avant-garde music pioneers The White Stripes were a rock duo (former husband and wife team Jack White and Meg White) from Detroit, Michigan. Formed in 1997, they split in 2011. Before they split, they released the album “Get Behind Me Satan” in 2005 that featured the song “Blue Orchid.” It was the first single released from that album. In 2007, British choreographer Wayne McGregor arranged “Blue Orchid” and two other White Stripe’s songs, along with Mozart and Tchaikovsky compositions, for his production “Chroma,” a piece he choreographed for The Royal Ballet in London, England. “Chroma” later won several awards for outstanding choreography, production and performance between 2007 and 2014, and McGregor won the coveted Laurence Olivier Award in 2007 for Best New Dance Production.
Watch Wayne McGregor’s choreographed “Blue Orchid” piece (begins at 1:24):
In 2012, British-Malawi jazz vocalist Malia released her fourth studio album “Black Orchid” as a tribute to Nina Simone, an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist. In her song “Baltimore” Malia’s silky and sometimes tortured voice reflects the struggles of living in Baltimore (Maryland). Frankly and simply she sings:
“Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain’t nowhere to run to
There ain’t nothin’ here for free”
Once again, orchids have seduced us without our even knowing and infiltrated our pop-culture world.