Songs That Sound Suspiciously Like Other Songs
Published on 30 March 2022
Let's face it, nearly every song has been inspired by something before it, but a little too much "inspiration" can cause an artist to end up in some hot water with other fellow musicians. And by hot water, we mean a lengthy court case or having to fork out millions of dollars. Cha-ching! In the music industry, accusations of plagiarism and copyright infringement are nothing new and there have definitely been times when we've been listening to a track and thinking it sounds suspiciously familiar.
If you've been keeping up with the ongoings of the music industry lately, you might have seen that Ed Sheeran has been in court after being accused of copying a part of a song from another artist. He has been accused by Sami Chokri of being partly inspired by his track Oh Why for the melody of his smash hit Shape Of You, which just so happened to be the best-selling song in the world in 2017.
This got us thinking about all the other tunes that sound very similar to other songs. Here's a list of some of the tracks that we've listened to and thought, "Hey, where have I heard that before?!" And once you hear it, you can never un-hear it...
George Harrison "My Sweet Lord" Vs The Chiffons "He's So Fine"
George Harrison's 1970s hit My Sweet Lord was the first track by a solo Beatle to hit number one... but in turn, it also landed Harrison in some nasty legal troubles.
In 1976, A judge ruled that Harrison's track had ripped off The Chiffons' song He's So Fine which was released in 1963. The accusation of plagiarism came as a surprise for the ex-Beatle, who denied stealing the melody... Well, not knowingly, that is! Harrison even took his guitar to court and demonstrated this process of writing the song.
Even though an artist can claim they didn't set out to steal from another song, they can be held legally liable for what is called subconscious plagiarism. The judge noted that he believed that Harrison didn't deliberately copy the music, but because he had access to it, he was guilty.
Can you hear the similarities?
Olivia Rodrigo "Good 4 U" Vs Paramore "Misery Business"
They say fame comes at a price and newbie popstar Oliva Rodrigo has experienced the consequences of this first-hand. After releasing her first album Sour in 2021, Olivia has been hit with multiple copyright allegations, notably for her track Good 4 U. If you were on any social media platform last summer, you'll most likely be aware of this one because it seemed like it was everywhere. If her upbeat, angsty track blasted you back in time to your emo days, you weren't the only one as the song sounded all too similar to Paramore's Misery Business.
The tracks have the same chord progression, with an upbeat tempo, a pop-punk drum groove with syncopated melodies and bucked loads of teenage angst. Paramore singer Haley Williams and ex-guitarist Josh Farro have now been listed as co-writers of the song. The type of songwriting credit that has been added is called an interpolation credit, which basically means repurposing an existing melody with new lyrics and/or context. See, every day is a school day with guitarguitar.
Did Good 4 U interpolate the melody of Misery Business? See if you can see the similarity for yourself below...
Robin Thicke (ft. TI & Pharrell) "Blurred Lines" Vs Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up"
It doesn't take a genius to spot the similarities here!
The smash-hit of 2013 should have made Robin Thicke a household name. Well, it kind of did, but not in a good way. Controversial lyrical content aside, Blurred Lines caused quite a lot of trouble to Mr Thicke. There's a reason why the song's bass line sounded so familiar... that's because you've already heard it in Marvin Gaye's 1977 single Got To Give It Up.
To cut a long story short, a jury confirmed that the song had copied Gaye's track, and Thicke and Pharrell were ordered to pay out $7.3m to Gaye's family for the blunder and also 50% of all future earnings from the song. Ouch!
Coldplay "Viva La Vida" Vs Joe Satriani "If I Could Fly"
Back in 2008, Coldplay released their fourth studio album "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends." The lead single off the record, Viva La Vida was a roaring success and even won Song of The Year at the Grammy Awards the following year. However, this tune sounded all too familiar to guitarist virtuoso Joe Satriani.
When he first heard Coldplay's hit song, Joe instantly recognised the melody and composition of the track. He stated, "It felt like a dagger went right through my heart. The second I heard it, I knew it was I Could Fly. Understandably, Joe was heartbroken that the song he released four years prior sounded just like Viva La Vida. According to Satriani, the composition of I Could Fly took over ten years to write and was a love letter to his wife, so as you could imagine, he wasn't too happy with Chris Martin and his fellow bandmates!
In the end, Satriani filed a lawsuit against Coldplay and Capitol Records. However, the lawsuit was dropped a year later as an out-of-court settlement was reached. Don't mess with the Satch!
Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby" Vs Queen "Under Pressure"
Stop, collaborate and listen.
Remember that time Vanilla Ice tried to convince us all that he didn’t rip off Queen’s Under Pressure? It was almost like a fever dream!
Back in 1990, Vanilla Ice jumped onto the scene and released one of the most iconic rap songs of all time, Ice Ice Baby. The track ended up being a one-hit wonder and was met with tons of controversy because yes, the bass line was directly lifted from Queen and Bowie's 1981 song Under Pressure. Both Queen and David Bowie's team filed lawsuits against the rapper, as he did not credit or pay any royalties to the original songwriters.
Funny thing is, a lawsuit was avoided. In true badass style, Vanilla Ice chose not to pay for a lawyer to fight the lawsuit, or even pay the fine, instead he just bought the song. Yup, Vanilla Ice star, Robert Van Winkle, is now the sole owner of Queen's hit Under Pressure. Madness!
At the end of the day, music is art and musicians are artists and it's hard to believe that any of the artists featured here purposely went out their way to copy or rip off other artists as it's clear it will result in some seriously (and costly!) consequences. However, we’ll let you decide whether you think this is the case for Vanilla Ice...
Let us know what other songs you think sound suspiciously like other songs over on social media!