10 Hit Songs That Rip Off Other Songs

Pablo Picasso is credited with saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Below is a list of 10 hit songs that rip off, borrow from or sound remarkably similar to other songs. Whether coincidental, subliminal, or intentional these songs have definite similarities.

Chili-Peppers-Tom-Petty-edit.jpg - Photos: Juan Naharro Gimenez, Samir Hussein/Getty Images.

Anthony Keidis/Tom Petty. Photos: Juan Naharro Gimenez, Samir Hussein/Getty Images.

1.  RHCP “Dani California” (2006) vs. Tom Petty “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (1993)

Although Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” share the same beat and chord changes in their verses, luckily for the Red Hot Chili Peppers Tom Petty is not a litigious musician. When asked by Rolling Stone about similarities between the songs Petty responded, “I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there. And a lot of rock ’n’ roll songs sound alike. Ask Chuck Berry…But I don’t believe in lawsuits much. I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”

2.  Foo Fighters “Something From Nothing” (2014) vs. Dio “Holy Diver” (1983)

Foo Fighters’ first Sonic Highways album single “Something From Nothing” induces a sense of musical déjà vu in anyone familiar with late Rainbow/Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio’s solo band Dio’s debut single “Holy Diver” off the Holy Diver album. When the Foo Fighters song gets to the pre-chorus riff it sounds like a slightly altered version of the verse riff from Dio’s 1983 classic. Ronnie James Dio (vocals) and Dave Grohl (drums) worked together on the Tenacious D song “Kickpoo” (watch the NSFW movie clip) from the 2006 The Pick of Destiny movie and soundtrack album. Dio and Grohl were even neighbors for a time in Encino, California. Foo Fighters’ borrowing of Dio’s riff seems like more a tribute to the “Pavarotti of heavy metal” than a rip-off.

3.  Nirvana “Come As You Are” (1992) vs. Killing Joke “Eighties” (1984)

Manager Danny Goldberg said of the release of “Come As You Are” as Nirvana’s second Nevermind single, “Kurt was nervous about “Come as You Are” because it was too similar to a Killing Joke song…Killing Joke later did complain about it.” After the Nirvana song was a hit, Killing Joke reportedly threatened to sue Nirvana. Nirvana’s lawyer said the band had never heard of Killing Joke despite the fact that Nirvana had sent Killing Joke Christmas cards in the past. After Kurt Cobain’s death lawsuit plans were dropped. Dave Grohl later played drums on Killing Joke’s entire self-titled 2003 album for free.


4.  Led Zeppelin “Whole Lotta Love” (1969) vs. Muddy Waters “You Need Love” (1962)

Led Zeppelin famously “borrowed” all or parts over a dozen of their favorite blues, rock, and folk artists’ songs without giving them credit until they were sued. Led Zeppelin liberally used the lyrics from Muddy Waters’ “You Need Love”, written by Willie Dixon, for their 1969 hit “Whole Lotta Love”. In 1990 Robert Plant explained, “Page’s riff was Page’s riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, ‘well, what am I going to sing?’ That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for.” Led Zeppelin settled out of court with Dixon in 1985.

5.  Judas Priest “Revolution” (2005) vs. Jane’s Addiction “Mountain Song” (1988)

In a rare case of an older band possibly ripping off a younger band, this Judas Priest’s verse guitar riff from their 2005 comeback single “Revolution” sounds almost exactly like Jane’s Addiction’s 1998 classic “Mountain Song”. Judas Priest’s “Revolution” marked Rob Halford’s return to the band and was their first U.S. single to chart since he left the band in 1992. Judas Priest claims the song’s intro bass line was taken from a cassette they recorded in the seventies.

6.  The Beatles “Come Together” (1969) vs. Chuck Berry “You Can’t Catch Me” (1956)

Unfortunately for The Beatles Chuck Berry is a litigious musician who successfully sued both The Beach Boys ( for “Surfin’ U.S.A.”) and The Beatles (for “Come Together”) for plagiarizing his songs “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “You Can’t Catch Me”. “Come Together” is admittedly a slowed down version of Berry’s song. John Lennon’s opening lyric, “Here come ol’ flattop, he come groovin’ up slowly” mirrors Berry’s mid-song lyric “Here come a flattop, he was movin’ up with me.” The Beatles settled with Berry out of court.

7.  Coldplay “Viva La Vida” (2008) vs. Joe Satriani “If I Could Fly” (2004)

Joe Satriani sued Coldplay in 2009 alleging the song “Viva La Vida” made use of “substantial original portions” of his instrumental “If I Could Fly”. Coldplay said similarities between the songs were “entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him.” Coldplay lawyers said that “If I Could Fly” should not receive copyright protection because it “lacks originality.” The case was dropped by Satriani and possibly settled out of court.

8.  Jet “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” (2003) vs. Iggy Pop “Lust For Life” (1977)

In an interview Jet drummer Chris Chester said he spoke to Iggy Pop personally about their songs’ similarities, “It’s funny because I asked him point blank about that. He said I was crazy. He said that when he and David Bowie were writing “Lust for Life”, they were ripping off Motown’s beat. It’s funny that he said that to me because we also thought we were ripping off Motown more than “Lust for Life”…People just go well “Lust for Life” is more well-known so that’s what they go for, but if you listen to a song like “You Can’t Hurry Love” (The Supremes) I think you’ll find its closer to “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” than “Lust for Life” ever was. And that’s what Iggy said as well.”

9.  Oasis “Cigarettes & Alcohol” (1994) vs. T-Rex “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” (1971)

On the Oasis Definitely Maybe single “Cigarettes & Alcohol” Noel Gallagher’s “borrowed” the guitar riff from the T-Rex classic “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”. The single “Shakermaker” from the same album “borrowed” it’s vocal melody from The New Seekers “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” (a song made famous in a 1971 Coke commercial). For the latter song Oasis had to pay for their “borrowing” when The New Seekers successfully sued them for $A500,000 (Australian dollars) for unlicensed use. When asked about the incident, Noel Gallagher said, “We drink Pepsi now.”

10.  The Offspring “…Get A Job?” (1998) vs. The Beatles “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” (1968)

The Offspring’s “Why Don’t You Get A Job?” is so similar to The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” that it could almost pass as a Weird Al Yankovic song parody. Surprisingly, despite The Offspring’s liberal lifting of The Beatles’ song melodies, the song never made it onto The Beatles’ lawyers’ radar.

What two songs do you think sound the same?  Tell everyone in the comments.


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