Inspiration for this post, and some of the facts used throughout can be found here –
Recently I listened to the video series by Kirby Ferguson – “Everything is a Remix Part 1: the song remains the same” and learned that some of the music I grew up listening to and still enjoy listening to now, has some MAJOR copyright issues. This sparked my interest, and I began analyzing the music I listen too, and the similarities between the soundtracks; some being so similar that I thought I would investigate more in a “Then…” “…And Now” format.
Back in England, 1968, Led Zeppelin – a heavy metal band, started to use other songwriters lyrics, and instrumental melodies frequently, without giving credit to the originals. British groups were recording many covers and having them in their albums, but the big difference between the other groups and Zeppelin is the fact that Zeppelin didn’t credit ANYONE they borrowed music from. This is a big copyright NO-NO!
One example of a song that has been covered MANY times, and still is to this day, is “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Some examples would be: Bon Jovi, The Vamps, Justin Timberlake, and many more.
A few examples of the songs that ZEPPELIN has outright copied, and/or modified are:
“Bring it on Home” – Led Zeppelin & “Bring it on Home” – Willie Dixon.
“Black Mountain Side” – Led Zeppelin & “Blackwaterside” – Bert Jansch
And the most popular: “Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin & “Taurus” – Spirit.
Led Zeppelin toured with Spirit in 1968, and 3 years later, “Stairway to Heaven” was released.
Led Zeppelin could have avoided any possibilities for law suits if they credited the original artists, or modified the originals instrumentals/lyrics enough to classify it as “new”. One precaution they should have taken is to credit the original artist, even if they thought they had modified the original enough to call it their own – just in case they were sued for that song. They could have also said that those songs were influenced by other artists, and list said artists.
“Invisible” – 5 Seconds of Summer
“Time of Your Life” – Green Day
“Home Is Such A Lonely Place” – Blink – 182
They all have very similar beginnings, and while listening to “Home Is Such A Lonely Place” by, Blink-182, I found myself trying to figure out what song I was reminded of. This has been bothering me for the past few days, and Wednesday night on the bus ride home from school it hit me; “Invisible”, by 5 Seconds of Summer. Immediately when I got home, opened iTunes on my laptop and started playing the two back and forth. One of the things that these bands all have in common is their connections. All Time Low and 5 Seconds of Summer were both heavily influenced by Blink – 182’s sound, and often mention this. All Time Low has recently toured with Blink as well, and it shows through their music, http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6190829/5-seconds-of-summer-influences-nirvana-green-day-blink-182 . I decided to keep searching, because even thought “Invisible” and “Home Is Such A Lonely Place” have similar beginnings, they were too different to say that it was a rip-off/knock-off. Blink – 182 successfully changed the melody, and the lyrics are different as well, so the only thing in common between these songs is the similar melody.
During my research, I found out that 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Invisible” has the same beginning as Green Day’s “Time of Your Life”. At first I was slightly pissed that they would copy the beginning, but after listening to it more, I realized that 5 Seconds of Summer did change the melody slightly, and the lyrics are different. Green Day is another one of 5 Seconds of Summer’s idols, so it makes sense for their music to be similar, because that is one of their influences.
Other examples of this would be:
“Stars” – Demi Lovato & “Infinity Guitars” – Sleigh Bells
The same clapping sequence is used in the background of both songs. Sleigh bells filed a law suit against Demi, because she did not contact them to ask for permission, as well as she did not alter the base line/clapping sequence enough for it to be a knock-off.
“Surfin’ USA” – Beach Boys” & Sweet Little Sixteen”– Chuck Berry
These songs both have the same instrumentals, and while listening to “Sweet Little Sixteen” I found myself singing along but changing the lyrics to “Surfin’ USA” and noticed no difference. The lyrics may have changed, but the melodies stayed the same.
“Free Fallin’” – Tom Petty & “One Thing” – One Direction
These two may not sound similar, but if you were to speed up the chord progression with “Free Falling”, then they would sound more alike.
This is only the tip of the ice burg: the majority of the music we listen to today has been influenced by previous songwriters, so it’s nearly impossible to find a complete original. Don’t let this get you down though! Just because the majority of the music we listen to isn’t completely original, doesn’t mean it’s not a good song, it was influenced by another for a reason. No one can re-create the wheel, but you can enhance it.