The Ripoff Jukebox

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

F You for Being a Friend

"Thank You for Being a Friend," Andrew Gold (Golden Girls theme, performed by Cindy Fee)
"F*ck You," Cee Lo Green

The message of these two songs could not be more different. And the tempo is off a bit. But every time I'd hear the Cee Lo hit, I kept expecting it to close with a run of strings and a prolonged note from a song I couldn't quite place. I knew it was a TV theme. I knew it was from the '80s. But "FU" is such a catchy song, I never lingered on the similarity very long.

Also, since I now update this blog only annually, I didn't feel compelled to take action. But today I finally cleared away enough mental laziness to try to remember what song it really is. I can't say I expected the road that started at Gnarls Barkley to end at Bea Arthur, but here I am.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Could Really, Really Use Somebody

Bryan Adams, "Somebody"
Kings of Leon, "Use Somebody"

This is the kind of ripoff observation that causes people to hate me. The mere comparison of the Kings of Leon to Canadian pop prince Bryan Adams is scoff-inducing. Alleging that one of the Followill brothers' most acclaimed singles would rip off or even be influenced by an '80s teeny bopper power ballad qualifies me for a lifetime ban from the musical hall of the internets.

I'd be concerned for my own sanity and safety were it not for the obvious connection between the two songs.

I'll answer the accusations of any haters* in advance: I'm not a fan of the Leonite Kings. I don't think they're terrible, they just make me yawn. But this entry has nothing to do with my personal feelings toward them. It's just that my initial reaction to this song was that it sounded like their take on a Bryan Adams song of almost exactly the same name. It's like Bryan Adams went off of Xanax and rewrote his old song. And that's fine. It's kinda catchy.

But, you know, it's earned its spot here, don't you think?

*Don't you like how I pretend that a) people are reading this and b) it's triggering some sort of intense emotional response? I'm silly like that.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ripping Off Easy as 1, 2, 3 (4)

Travis, "Side"
Plain White T's, "1, 2, 3, 4"

The first time I heard the Plain White T's uber-meh hit, "Hey There, Delilah," I felt pretty certain they had perfected the formula for a one-hit wonder. I don't listen to the radio enough to gauge the success of their second major release (or even to tell if another "hit" escaped me) but the moment I heard "1, 2, 3, 4," I was absolutely certain I had heard something just like it before.

Obviously the title is unoriginal. Feist, The Jackson Five, and about a zillion Muppets have done alpha-numeric progression songs. But that wasn't what caught my ear and dragged me for 3:30. It was the cadence and melody of the opening verse that sounded familiar. Only problem: I didn't like the original song enough to ever make a mental note of the title or the artist. I didn't hate it, I just didn't . . . anything it.

After about a month of occasional mental digging and Internet sifting, I finally discovered (via hearing a song by Keane and searching for bands that sounded like them) that the rip-ee was Travis, and the ripped-off song was "Side," as in "the circle only has one." Overall, the songs sound dissimilar, so I'll point you in the direction of the rippage.

Compare the chorus of "Side" (starting at 0:36) with the opening verse of "1, 2, 3, 4" (:20 in) and you'll hear exactly what I mean. It's not a perfect match, but there's no question the latter wouldn't exist without the former. That's right. It's a Plain White T's ripoff, even though Matthew McConaughey was not involved.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Midnight Train to Elizabethtown

Journey, "Don't Stop Believin' "
Pinback, "Loro"

It's hard to say I'm a fan of the show Glee, partly because there's only one episode but mostly because, frankly, it's just hard to say that publicly. But I watched the show, and put a big L on my forehead, because I loved it.

What I haven't loved is the fact that their version of "Don't Stop Believin' " is cycling endlessly through my head. It's not that I hate the song or the version, it's just that I don't know the lyrics well at all, so the same parts keep repeating over and over. Apparently, that exact scenario occurred in the minds of the Pinback folks when they composed "Loro," which is featured on the second volume of the Elizabethtown soundtrack. 

I've heard that song many times, but it wasn't until it played over the constant mental loop of Glee that I recognized the similarity (maybe it was because that version shares the same lyrics: da, da, da-da-da, dum, dum, dum). It doesn't sound as if they intentionally used Journey as their inspiration, but those two melodies have definitely met before in someone else's mind, and I doubt the latter song would have existed without the former. Sometimes a song plants a seed in our heads that simply can't be killed, and it's bound to bear fruit in some other creation.

Even if it is just the same part of the song repeated for three or four minutes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nobody's Spoon but Mine

Blind Willie Johnson, "It's Nobody's Fault but Mine" 
Led Zeppelin, "Nobody's Fault but Mine" 
Soundgarden, "Spoonman"

I realize I'm a little late with this observation, since the most recent fossil in the evolutionary chain of the song was unearthed by Chris Cornell and friends in 1994 and the oldest came out of the 1920s. But this morning I realized that I a) had a song in my head and b) couldn't tell if it was "Nobody's Fault but Mine" or "Spoonman." I decided I'd lump those two songs together on the Musical Ripoff jukebox despite their obvious differences—there's just an undeniable influence, in my ears anyway.

But then I discovered that Plant and Page weren't the original authors of the song after all. I was delighted to learn the song is actually an old Negro Spiritual catalogued as far back as 1924. 

I also learned I've been misinforming people about the origins of "Spoonman." I knew that Chris Cornell wrote the song based on a made-up song/band name from the movie Singles. What I didn't know was that Jeff Ament had indeed implanted meaning into said name. It is, indeed, about a guy who plays spoons (and also likes to cuddle): Artis the Spoonman.

Go figure. Actually, forget the figuring. Just listen and compare and see what you think.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chy Khoh Ckh Ckih Chook

The Transformers, "Transforming Sound"
Michael Jackson, "The Way You Make Me Feel"

Maybe the title makes no sense to you. Maybe you don't recognize that as the transliteration of the sound a Transformer makes when it transforms. Maybe no one will acknowledge that Michael Jackson indubitably received the entire inspiration of his song (released in 1987) from that one sound effect that first graced the ears of prepubescent toy junkies in 1984. Maybe you won't be able to detect a single instance of anything resembling that sound in the entire song.

Let me help you. First, play the sound effect and observe how naturally it blends into the subsequent song intro. Then, if you aren't convinced, advance to the 4:09 mark of the song. I'll accept your apology at 4:13.

Now excuse me as I transform into a giant moonwalking robot.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Giving Thanks for Pets

Henry Smith, "Give Thanks" (performed by Don Moen)
Pet Shop Boys, "Go West"

This is the weirdest one I've ever done or heard. You've got the praise song preceding the punk pop song . . . add that to the fact that I realized the ripoff was in progress by listening to sports talk radio, and it's just odd. But it's worth a listen.