Shocking plagiarism

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So I'm listening to some ragga mix of unknown origin and age that I found on gnutella (though I'm guessing it's a couple of years old due to the sampled breakbeats) when suddenly I realise that the R&B-flavoured chorus to one of the tunes is in fact some girl singing Bad English's "When I See You Smile" over crashing drums. After realising what the song actually was, I was unsure whether to be shocked, appalled, impressed or all three simultaneously.

Consequently, I'm wondering when everyone else has been most surprised by an unexpected/inventive/perverse musical steal. Especially the perverse ones.

Tim, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

obligatory new answers response

Tim, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Michael Jackson latest song rips off one of his earlier songs. Can't remember which it is though. Plundering his own material. COOLIO.

nathalie, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Michael Jackson latest song rips off one of his earlier songs. Can't remember which it is though. Plundering his own material.

This is shocking?

Melissa W, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

i've heard a dancehall song a couple of times in the past few months with a weird melodic hook i couldn't place until i realized it was the "do you see what i see?" song. about jesus or something. i think.

your null fame, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I saw a segment from STARSHIP TROOPERS which featured some woman in a club singing a version of David Bowie's "I Have Not Been To Oxford Town" from OUTSIDE.

Kodanshi, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

There is a part in OK Computer that sounds shockingly like "Insensitez" by, I think, Antonio Carlos Jobim.

I always thought it would be a great radio show for bands to come on, play their songs and then follow it up with the song they ripped off to write it.

hans, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Not so much a ripoff as an homage, the Jam's "Start" and the Beatles' "Taxman."

Elastica's "Waking Up" knowingly lifted from the Stranglers' "No More Heroes."

I read somewhere that Bono & the Edge maintain that "With or Without You" is a shameless homage to Suicide's "Cheree," but it's debatable.

alex in nyc, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Hearing the chorus to "Big Time" in a Tricky song, while not surprising, was slightly off-putting.

Bobby D. Gray, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Everyone goes on about the Bowie tribute/ripoff aspect, but the Hedwig and the Angry Inch song "Wig in a Box" has almost the same melody as the Bee Gees mid-Sixties hit "Spicks and Specks".

Arthur, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I was watching Dr. Strangelove last night and was shocked (appalled?) by the similarity of the theme music to Try A Little Tenderness by Otis Redding,and as far as I know,the film came first.

Damian, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

In the liner notes to a re-packaging of some Modern Lovers songs (called The Original Modern Lovers, I think), Jonathan Richman corrects the other guy's notes by saying something to the effect of, "No, that song can't be that old because I hadn't heard the Iggy song that I ripped off for it yet." The modern Lovers' song was "I Wanna Sleep In Your Arms," and the Iggy/Stooges songs must have been (my guess, JR doesn't say) "I Gotta Right."

, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

The Allman Brothers have a song called "No One to Run With" which has a guitar riff that has always reminded me of that 80's pop song "I Want Candy." Strange indeed. Also, the intro to Pearl Jam's "Yellow Ledbetter" shamelessly apes Hendrix's "Little Wing."

Mark M, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

There's so many freaking examples of this that I can't think of any. Besides Third Eye Blind ripping off Radiohead's "Bones" in their "Camouflage." Oh yeah, and Ben Folds Five ripped off "Subterranean Homesick Alien" for their "Hospital Song." Except it's not the same in the second case. In BFF's case it was more a nudge-wink appropriation, since "Reinhold Messner" was essentially Folds' "tribute to my inspirations" album, and "SHA" was in itself a kind of Pink Floyd tribute. Then they did their own goofy Pink Floyd sendup at the end of "Regrets." That caused a surprised smile on my face the first time I heard it.

Jack Redelfs, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Stealing song titles is par for the course when it's some one-word generic thing, but it takes a bit of nerve to pilfer something as idiosyncratic as Mott's "I Wish I Was Your Mother", like Bon Jovi did. Then again, Jon also stole Warren Zevon's "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead".

dave q, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Worst ever, I think was that terrible Offspring song that shamelessly ripped "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da" plus something else equally obvious. I remember hearing this for the first time in a car with someone else: we both turned to each other and said, "Wait, that's a complete rip-off of X." There was a bit of confusion, as we'd said different things, but it turned out that we were both right. You can imagine the hilarity than ensued.

Nitsuh, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Bon Jovi stole the title of the greatest Mott song ever? God, I knew I hated that damn band, now I loathe them.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Wait a sec, who else thinks that the beginning of that cheezy Bette Midler song "The Rose" sounds like Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut?"

As for Offspring and "Ob-la-di..." Not that I like Offspring, or anything, but I think there were songs that sounded like "Ob-la-di," since that was Macca's ska tribute (and all the Mighty Mighty Bosstones fans scratch their heads).

Jack Redelfs, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

To clarify: I'm talking about rip-offs that you just can't help but like, not ones you have no option but to despite.

Tim, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

... I mean "despise".

Tim, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

It has been alledged that "If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will be Next" by the Manic Street Preachers is a rip-off of The Stranglers' "Duchess," but I don't really hear it much.....and I love the damn Stranglers.

alex in nyc, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I'm playing "Duchess" right now, just to see, and... Now that you mention it... Yeah! The chorus is sung quite similarly: "God forbid"/"will be next".

Honestly, I would not have thought of it, though.

Simon, Thursday, 27 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
The last song, "Drop in the Ocean," on Michelle Branch's album samples Broadcast's "Echo's Answer" without crediting it.

Melissa W, Friday, 2 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...
What? No way... I love "Echo's Answer" and

Ian Moraine (Eastern Mantra), Wednesday, 19 January 2005 20:41 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Nelly Furtado _does_ write those Natasha Bedingfield ditties doesn't she??

itchy crabs, Wednesday, 19 January 2005 20:55 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

There's a Freestlyers tune with a raggamuffin refrain that drove me nuts until I realized it was cribbed from Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time".

Tantrum The Cat (Tantrum The Cat), Wednesday, 19 January 2005 21:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two years pass...
This is a weird one, but does anyone know the obscure Chicago indie band We Ragazzi? Jams Run Free by Sonic Youth sounds suspiciously like them to me, with the riff played on guitar and electric piano

iago g., Tuesday, 8 May 2007 01:03 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Glenn Frey's "The Heat Is On" vs. Van Halen's "Panama"

"Lou Reed's "Dirt" vs. Modern Lovers "I'm Straight"

Manalishi, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 01:57 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Worst for me is Fischerspooner's "Tone Poem", an arrogant steal of Brian Eno's "Becalmed" by a couple of talentless losers... either that of Eagles of Death Metal's "Kiss the Devil", a rewrite of Dock Boggs' "Sugar Babe" (and thus the only memorable thing on their album).

Rombald, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 09:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"The Heat Is On" is basically "Panama" on the "Pop Muzik" beat.

Geir Hongro, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 09:50 (twelve years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

I once had an original LP of Bobb Trimble's Harvest of Dreams which I sold in the '90s for nowhere near what it's worth today; I didn't realize it was worth anything beyond face value when I sold it and had never heard of the artist at the time. Wasn't even mentioned in the price guides I checked at the time.

Lee626, Wednesday, 12 December 2012 22:56 (six years ago) Permalink

Freddie Hubbard's "Povo" shamelessly steals the bassline from "Come Together".

FunkyTonk, Thursday, 13 December 2012 15:30 (six years ago) Permalink

Early versions of Green Jello's "Electric Harley House of Love" had this great breakdown where it blatantly stole the riff from "Enter Sandman" but then they got sued and now it has a 3/4 of the riff taken out and just sounds like a weird, unmemorable guitar vamp.

Poliopolice, Thursday, 13 December 2012 15:34 (six years ago) Permalink

just read/listened to this a few hrs ago and it tickled me. p obscure but that's what makes it amusing imo - Mary Timony and the music from a 90s Nintendo game I've never heard of:

an area the size of Jimmy Wales (DJ Mencap), Thursday, 13 December 2012 15:38 (six years ago) Permalink

harbinger (70s god folk thing) has a song on their LP that are not subtle in any way at ripping off bowie's "space oddity". i gather that's not the only rip on there but can't remember the others off the top of my head..

boner m (electricsound), Friday, 14 December 2012 00:37 (six years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

Here's an interesting one: 'Everybody' by The Jacksons (1980) is credited to Michael, Tito and Mike McKinney. However, listen to this production music from the late 70s. This is Jack Mayborn, not credited on the Jacksons album.

This library music was never meant for public consumption, but industry types had it around. it was work-for-hire, but you're supposed to get a license from the library to use the music for TV or films. I'm surprised Capitol records didn't sue, since Media Music was their library.

3×5, Friday, 11 August 2017 01:02 (one year ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Those library tracks can be costly, lol


This is about a (terrible) political ad by the National Party, New Zealand's government at the time. They used some music with a VERY FAMILIAR SOUND

The impressive 132-page verdict includes the country's largest political party arguing that a track called "Eminem Esque" does not resemble Eminem. And then questioning his music's originality... by citing the noted innovators Led Zeppelin.

Somehow, that defence didn't work.

Maybe it's more a symbolic ruling, but nice to see someone get sued who totally deserved it.

sbahnhof, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 07:30 (one year ago) Permalink

I have no idea whether the opening post of this thread is mine or the other Tim’s.

Tim F, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 08:38 (one year ago) Permalink

It's yours! I only ever started one thread. And I wouldn't know a gnutella if it bit me. I saw a post yesterday where I thought the same thing though.

I generally assume that if the post is intelligent and clearly-expressed, and not about some ancient indie nonsense, it's your work.

Sorry, Tim.

Tim, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 08:52 (one year ago) Permalink

That Jack Mayborn track also interpolates 'Jump to the Beat', so I'm willing to wager he had just heard the Jacksons track before release.

Chewshabadoo, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 08:55 (one year ago) Permalink

The Kraftwerk/Hindemith one always amuses me.

MaresNest, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 11:33 (one year ago) Permalink

Something on this thread makes the Flagging app crash every time I scroll up.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 25 October 2017 12:53 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Some music I've been working on lately has me questioning the validity of just how far someone can stretch out their musical influences. It prompted me to Tweet very early this morning, to all six of my followers:

Good morning, my fellow music nerds. Question: where does inspiration and influence end and flat out plagiarism begin? Further, is it okay to copy? If no, why not? If yes, when, how, etc.? #talkingtunesonatuesday #musicdiscussion #musicnerd

— Gregory Austin Anderson (@gaustinanderson) December 4, 2018

But I would genuinely like to discuss this. Is something that is very heavily influenced by something else plagiarism, just because it sounds similar? Or is plagiarism only present when actual musical passages or ideas are copied? Is there a grey area? What is it? Are there any moments of musical plagiarism that are of legit quality? Or is a copy inherently lesser?

(I'd like to keep self-plagiarism out of this, as I don't think that's actually a thing. And yeah, people can copy someone's aesthetic indemnity and expression ("image") — but that's not music, that's image.)

What say you, kind and gentle ilxors?

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 17:04 (five months ago) Permalink

Yesterday I stayed up most of the night binge-reading the Lost Media Wiki. Two days ago however I decided to check out the old rumours that James Horner not only borrowed heavily from dead Russian composers but also from himself, and I found this thread at JWFan, a John Williams fansite:

It's really bitchy! I like that.

Exhibit 1a, the twiddly-twiddly bit at the beginning of "Stealing the Enterprise", from Star Trek III, which is right at the start:

Exhibit 1b, Prokofiev, "The Death of Tybalt", at 1:30:

James Horner often had very little time to write his music, and he had to write a lot of it. On the one hand the idea of interpolating classical themes into music isn't really any different from sampling, and Horner argued that he was quoting works that made sense in context, but on the other hand God smote Horner's aeroplane from the sky and killed him, so there's that.

Ashley Pomeroy, Tuesday, 4 December 2018 20:47 (five months ago) Permalink

I posted this on a rolling pop thread, but last year the 18 year old pop singer Madison Beer released a single called "Say It To My Face":

About 30 seconds in, I was like "wait a sec"... it's a sterilized rip-off of Can's "Vitamin C".

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 21:03 (five months ago) Permalink

Haha, that's a tricky one!

'Wouldn't it Be Nice" famously quotes a melody from Tchaikovsky and that's never really bothered me because, like Horner, it works within the larger work of the song. Is it a straight copy? Pretty close. Is it still a good song. Yes, obviously.

Albert, that song is atrocious. But I totally hear it. Hilarious.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 21:11 (five months ago) Permalink



I'd never even considered a famous Chinese pop star could possibly rip off an obscure Welsh-language B-side, yet it happened.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 7 December 2018 15:30 (five months ago) Permalink

Behold: the awesomeness of music.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Friday, 7 December 2018 16:25 (five months ago) Permalink

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