The Ripoff Jukebox

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.