Homage, cheeky lift or outright rip-off? Songs that may be a little too close for comfort...
We’ve all experienced it. You’re listening to a song, it’s fantastic…but there’s a nagging doubt…your subconscious is telling you the singer should be singing something else…
Beautiful Day by U2 did it for me…every time Bono reached that “Touch me!” line, my brain kept doing a sudden stop trying to work out what was going on…it took me ages until my friend Rachel pointed out it was A-ha’s Take On Me. And once I knew, I could never hear that song again without going into a bit of Morten Harket in my head.
So, here’s a list of tunes that range from respectful homage to cheeky lift to “I’ll see you in court” rip-offs. There are loads more – suggestions very much welcomed!
1. Elastica – Waking Up / The Stranglers – No More Heroes
Firmly in the lawsuit territory, the case was settled out of court. Both songs are still fab, mind!
2. Elastica – Connection / Wire – Three Girl Rhumba
Again, undoubtedly a loving homage that cost them a lot of royalties….
3. The Jam – Start! / The Beatles – Taxman
The bass clearly rips off Harrison’s classic, but no lawsuit this time – it’s not like either songwriter needed the extra dosh. And both are classics.
4. Nirvana – Come As You Are / Killing Joke – Eighties / The Damned – Life Goes On
The steal within a steal within a steal…? It’s unclear if Killing Joke ever sued Nirvana….possibly because they may (just may) have pilfered that riff themselves from The Damned’s Life Goes On. Who knows!?
5. Oasis – Step Out / Stevie Wonder – Uptight!
Let’s be honest, we could be here for a very long time with Oasis, a band with a propensity to lift from so many bands, musicologists must be giddy trying to work them all out…
6. The Strokes – Last Nite / Tom Petty & The Heart Breakers – American Girl
Took me a while to spot this one, but once you hear it, it’s there for ever. Play it over The Silence Of The Lambs, works perfectly...
7. The Cure – The Baby Screams / New Order 5.8.6
People always say The Walk was a rip off of Blue Monday, but I think this is far more similar. I seem to be the only person who thinks this, mind.
8. Sugar – A Good Idea / Pixies – Debaser
A pastiche, apparently….hmm…it's a cracker, either way.
9. George Harrison – My Sweet Lord – The Chiffons – He’s So Fine
Poor George, who may have lifted this subconsciously (he was actually thinking about the hymn Oh Happy Day), but years of litigation ensued to the point he barely wrote much for years afterwards, for fear of being sued.
10. Buffalo Springfield – Mr Soul / The Rolling Stones (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Naughty Neil Young? Nah, it’s different enough to get away with it and frankly (controversially?), it’s the way better song!
11. The Go-Betweens – Finding You / James – Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
The choruses are similar, but think this is purely coincidence – can anyone else hear it?
12. End Of Fashion – O Yeah / Pixies – Where Is My Mind?
Shameless. Just shameless.
13. The Charlatans – Oh Vanity! / New Order – Your Silent Face
Respectful homage and inspiration taken by Lockdown’s national treasure, the lovely Tim Burgess. That whole Charlatans' album has a few nods to New Order and it's their best by far.
14. Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl? / Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
Drums man, it’s the drums….
15. The Libertines – Time For Heroes / The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
Play Boys Don’t Cry at the wrong speed and you’ll hear it…
16. Primal Scream – Rocks / The Rolling Stones – Live With Me
If you’ve basically nicked their wardrobe and their drugs, you may as well borrow a few riffs while you're there?
17. The Jam – Town Called Malice / The Clash – Hitsville UK
Naughty Bruce Foxton – back again??
18. U2 – Vertigo / Sonic Youth – Dirty Boots
The chorus is a straight lift by that little scamp, Bonio…
19. U2 – Beautiful Day / A-ha – Take On Me
They may as well have made a cartoon video and add insult to injury!
20. The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection / The Beatles – Think For Yourself
It’s always poor George!!! Check out the verses.
21. Oasis – Cigarettes & Alcohol / Prince – Cream / T-Rex – Get It On
They're all dirty. Not sure they're all sweet.
22. The Strokes – Razorblade / Barry Manilow – Mandy
A little similarity? I think mainly I just wanted an excuse to play Barry Manilow in the house…
23. Lenny Kravitz – It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over / Earth Wind & Fire – That’s The Way Of The World
Another perennial "homager", again, we could fill up a lot of this list with his "tributes"...
24. The Charlatans – The Only One I Know / The Doors - Peace Frog
I normally loathe The Doors, but this is an undeniable lift…and Peace Frog is surprisingly good - may need a rethink...
25. Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk / Was (Not Was) – Walk The Dinosaur
Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom or Doh Doh doh doh, doh doh doh Doh doh, Doh doh doh, doh doh doh. Indeed.
If you have other suggestions, please add them in the comments or email me. The list is a respectful tease of some cracking songs. For a much better and more complete database of similar songs, do visit the brilliant Rate Your Music site's very extensive list - trainspotter-tastic!