BLOG: Songs that sound the same

From The Ting Tings to The Rolling Stones

With a number one single and album to their name, The Ting Tings are doing very nicely in the UK just at the moment. They’re providing the soundtrack to Apple’s latest iPod advert, too, which is only going to help their cause in other territories.

However, much as I like the chart-topping That’s Not My Name, something bothers me every time I listen to it. The comparisons with Toni Basil’s Mickey are obvious, but whenever the verse is playing, I can’t help but be reminded of the equivalent section of Cameo’s Word Up (compare the rhythm of the vocal delivery and you might see what I mean). I’m not just mishearing the lyrics – I’m mishearing the entire song, and if it isn’t spoiling the experience, it’s certainly tarnishing it.

It’s the same with another track from We Started Nothing, The Ting Tings’ long-player (could this album title be an allusion to the fact that the band have been heavily influenced by other artists?). It might just be me, but I can’t help thinking that Fruit Machine is a dead ringer for Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Were Made For Walking. Am I going mad?

This is happening to me more and more, and I’m not sure I like it. Maybe it’s because, over the years, my brain has absorbed so many hooks, riffs and phrases that, whenever it gets fed any new ones, it can’t help but scan its archives for similar content.

Another example: Mika’s Relax Take It Easy. To me, the main hook is nothing more than a rehash of the one from Cutting Crew’s I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight. So, every time the Mika track comes on the radio I experience the most painful of double whammies – one abysmal song reminding me of another. That’s just unfair.

Of course, so much music has been written that it’s inevitable that artists will inadvertently borrow from one another occasionally, but sometimes, the thievery is blatant. You might argue that Noel Gallagher has built a career on recycling other people’s riffs, but Step Out was simply a step too far.

Originally slated for inclusion on (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (indeed, it actually went out on some pre-release review copies), the track was removed because of its similarity to Stevie Wonder’s Uptight (Everything’s Alright). Step Out was later released as a B-side, but with Stevie rightly credited as a co-writer.

Few would doubt that Gallagher had Uptight firmly in mind when he wrote Step Out, but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards pleaded ignorance when they were told that the chorus from Anybody Seen My Baby, from The Rolling Stones’ Bridges To Babylon album, bore a striking melodic resemblance to KD Lang’s Constant Craving. They did, however, acknowledge the similarity by giving Lang (and her collaborator Mink) a co-writing credit.

So, can you think of other examples of songs sounding similar? Let us know below…

By Ben Rogerson


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