June 14, 2014 at 11:03 am #4606
Inspired by WatchMojo’s “Top 10 Rip Off Songs” video, and it got me fascinated by songs that have been accused of ripping off other songs. You can post more than one entry per post, but songs that use samples don’t count and aren’t allowed. I’ll start off to show how the game works:
Victim:Skinny Puppy-Dig It
Offender:Nine Inch Nails-Down In It
Scenario:Unlike some music plagiarism instances, there wasn’t any lawsuit that I know of surrounding this one. But NIN’s mastermind Trent Reznor did admit that he had ripped off of “Dig It”, so at least he was honest.
Victim:The Other Garden-Never Got The Chance
Scenario:Back in 2001, when Green Day had released the second single from their album of the same name, the lead singer of an obscure indie rock band called “The Other Garden” (I never heard of them either, so don’t ask) had claimed that Green Day had copied off of their 1997 recording “Never Got The Chance”. Then the guy only made things worse by saying that his song and Green Day’s song had similarities to “Picture Book” by The Kinks.
Offender:Nirvana-Come As You Are
Scenario:Being that I’m not a fan of Nirvana, my knowledge of this one is rather limited. From what I DID hear, Kurt Cobain had been aware of the similarities to the Killing Joke song, and was reluctant to release it as a single, but Nirvana’s manager Danny Goldberg favored it over “In Bloom” which the band wanted to release as a single instead. And so they released it as a single, and it’s unknown whether or not a lawsuit was actually filed, but one account claims that a member of Killing Joke had contacted Nirvana’s management bringing the similarities to their attention, and they literally responded with “Boo, never heard of ya!”. There’s also another account claiming that there was a lawsuit, but the judge dismissed the case after Kurt Cobain’s suicide as a means to try and lift a weight off their shoulders thinking that they had enough on their plate at the time.
Victim:Muddy Waters-You Need Love
Offender:Led Zeppelin-Whole Lotta Love
Scenario:The Willie Dixon-penned tune first recorded by Muddy Waters was one of many accusations of plagiarism the legendary british rockers faced. Dixon sued the band in 1985 and the case was settled out of court. And as I said it wouldn’t be the last time they were accused of plagiarism. In fact, several of their songs are rip offs of songs that came before them. Even Stairway To Heaven is a rip off of a previously existing song! (“Taurus” by Spirit)
Victim:John Lee ******-Boogie Chillen
Offender:ZZ Top-La Grange
Scenario:I don’t know if this ever went to court, but if you ever listened to both songs, the similarities aren’t hard to notice at all. -_-
Victim:Huey Lewis & The News-I Want A New Drug
Offender:Ray Parker Jr.-Ghostbusters
Scenario:In 1984, Huey Lewis was approached by Columbia Pictures to do the theme song for their upcoming supernatural horror/comedy film “Ghostbusters”. Lewis turned their proposal down and instead decided to write songs for “Back To The Future”. When Ghostbusters was released that June, Lewis noticed the similarities between “I Want A New Drug” and it’s theme song, and he wasn’t impressed, and took Ray Parker Jr., and the film’s director Ivan Reitman to court. Both parties reached some kind of settlement, but in 2001, when Lewis talked about the case on TV, Ray Parker Jr. sued Lewis for breaching confidentiality of the settlement.
Offender:Bruce Springsteen-Radio Nowhere
Scenario:In 2007 when Bruce Springsteen released his first album with the E-Street Band since 2002’s “The Rising”, many had noticed similarites to 80’s one hit wonder Tommy Tutone’s classic “867-5309/Jenny”. It was brought to the attention of Tommy Tutone frontman Tommy Heath, who when asked about it said “Everybody’s calling me about it,” and that, “I think it’s close enough that if I wanted to take legal action, I could work with it.”
Victim:David Bowie-Crystal Japan
Offender:Nine Inch Nails-A Warm Place
Scenario:When Trent Reznor had recorded this instrumental for NIN’s classic 1994 album “The Downward Spiral”, he felt that it sounded way too familiar and there was no way he could have written what he had just recorded. Later on, he purchased a CD reissue of Bowie’s “Scary Monsters” album and heard the track “Crystal Japan” and freaked out from how similar it was to “A Warm Place” off The Downward Spiral. Turns out Bowie was aware of the similarities, and apparently, he doesn’t seem to care.
Victim:Creedence Clearwater Revival-Run Through The Jungle
Offender:John Fogerty-The Old Man Down The Road
Scenario:In 1984, John Fogerty released his first new recording in 10 years. But Saul Zantz, the owner of Creedence’s record label, Fantasy, and the publishing rights owner of his songs with the band claimed The Old Man Down The Road was a rip off of Creedence’s hit “Run Through The Jungle”, and had filed a lawsuit against him for sounding too much like….himself. Fogerty took the stand in the court room with his guitar and played both songs back to back demonstrating that while they did have similarities, they were both completely different, and also pointed out that nobody can plagiarize themselves. Really, how can someone be guilty of having a signature sound?
Victim:Johnnie Taylor-Who’s Making Love
Offender:Queen-Another One Bites The Dust
Scenario:Another one that I’m not sure of any legal action being taken, but I’ve listened to both of these songs numerous times and the main riffs in both of them are identical.
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