Sometimes one song will sound like another song. It may be tribute, it may be unwitting or it may be on purpose with hopes of getting away with it. Here are ten examples.
We were inspired by a ’90s music kick over the weekend that reminded us of all the fuss a couple of years ago when Lana Del Ray was accused of ripping off Radiohead’s Creep.
Looking past the irony of Radiohead allegedly suing for copyright infringement on a song that they’re already paying two members of The Hollies a percentage of (it sounded very similar to their The Air That I Breathe), there are many cases of songs sounding similar to – or, politely, inspired by – others. We’ll avoid the really obvious like The Rolling Stones vs The Verve and The Chiffons vs George Harrison and hopefully come up with some that you hadn’t thought about.
We must cover our bottoms and stress that when not referring to an acknowledged case we’re just saying we hear similarities, we’re making no accusations of plagiarism. We like our bottoms.
Do You Realize? – Flaming Lips (2002) vs Mind Games – John Lennon (1973)
Starting this thing off slowly, is it just us who gets a similar vibe from both of these? It could be put down to coincidence, but then The Flaming Lips did perform Lennon’s tune live early on in their career. Maybe Mr Coyne had a case of cryptomnesia? This is where a forgotten memory can pop back into your bonce and you’re convinced that it’s new – which was what the George Harrison My Sweet Lord legal stoush was ultimately attributed to.
After the Watershed – Carter USM (1991) vs Goodbye Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones (1967)
OK, so the South London duo used the words “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” (they were hardly trying to be furtive) but was that reason enough for The Rolling Stones to crack it and have it pulled from the airwaves, before a deal was struck so that they shared writing credit (and, as such, royalties?) Still, the Stones were a struggling band back in the early 1990s, we guess…
It’s a Sin – Pet Shop Boys (1987) vs Wild World – Cat Stevens (1970)
We don’t get this one at all, but when It’s a Sin came out British DJ Jonathan King swore black and blue that the melody was a rip from Yusaf. The Pet Shop Boys were having none of it, sued King and, eventually won out-of-court damages. Top chaps that they are they then donated the proceeds to charity.
Roses in the Hospital – Manic Street Preachers (1993) vs Sound and Vision – David Bowie (1977)
This has always bugged us. We love the Manics, and we guess they loved Bowie as much as we do. OK, so it’s more of a sound-alike than theft, but we still reckon the Welsh mob would have been a tad nervous if the Bowie legal team had come calling. But then Dave was pretty much the coolest person ever, so he likely would have just laughed it all off.
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns n’ Roses (1988) vs Unpublished Critics – Australian Crawl (1981)
It’s fair to say that the likelihood of Axl, Slash and co ever having heard one of Aussie Crawl’s finest were minimal, due to their lack of overseas success (likely not helped by their name), but there are some eerie similarities here. While James Reyne didn’t wish to take on the might of the Gunners’ law machine, he did pointedly say at the time that this one came to light, “God forbid I had an active publishing company and they investigated the possibility.”
Talk – Coldplay (2005) vs Computer Love – Kraftwerk (1981)
If we’d been eating our Corn Flakes when we first heard Talk we’d likely have spat them everywhere. Our thoughts were along the lines of, “That [censored] Chris Martin has lifted from Kraftwerk wholesale!” It soon came to light that it was done with permission from the German synth pioneers, with founding member Ralf Hütter rumoured to have said something like, “Yes, you can use it, and thank you very much for asking my permission, unlike that bastard Jay-Z”.
Sitting on Top of the World – Delta Goodrem (2012) vs Rebellion (Lies) – Arcade Fire (2005)
Hmm, remember our bottoms, remember our bottoms… There’s taking inspiration from a song, and then there’s, erm… Still, according to a bunch of Delta fans Arcade Fire are just some no name band. Possibly the two easiest songs in the world to play mixmaster with.
Cheap Thrills – Sia (2016) vs Africa – Toto (1982)
Obviously there are only so many musical notes and so many chord progressions in the world. Sia’s track doesn’t sound like Africa as such, but sing the words to it as you listen to Cheap Thrills and…
Ca Plane Pour Moi – Plastic Bertrand (1977) vs Jet Boy, Jet Girl – Elton Motello (1977)
Even the most cloth-eared could hear that these two songs had the same backing track. Despite being released first, and likely due to its lyrical content (this was 1977), Elton Motello (a band, not a person) had nowhere near the same success as bouncy Belgian Bertrand – who didn’t actually sing the song, his producer did.
Shakermaker – (1994) Oasis vs I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony) – The New Seekers (1971)
Whatever – Oasis (1994) vs How Sweet to Be an Idiot – Neil Innes (1981)
Step Out – Oasis (1995) vs Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder (1965)
All these soundalikes – yet none are The Beatles! Legalities were sorted. As you were…