Catchy pop songs come and go. But what happens when a tune you like is played incessantly and sounds eerily similar to another tune from an earlier era? That’s the case with the selections below. Some were even so blatantly similar that they ended up in court.
“Hotline Bling” by Drake sounds similar to “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas
While Canadian rapper Drake’s “Hotline Bling” has been described as an R&B song with trap influences, most listeners aren’t aware of its sample of the 1972 “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas. At first, Drake and the song’s producer nineteen85 didn’t acknowledge this at first. In an interview with “Spin” magazine, Thomas said that one of his cousins actually informed him of the sample. After the song’s success and its undeniable similarities, Drake and his team came around to eventually crediting Thomas for the song. Although Thomas’s song was sampled in an era of Internet memes, Drake is not the first to lift the tune. Thomas’ classic was also sampled and covered by Sade, Steve Winwood, Joan Osbourne, Santana — even MC Hammer.
“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke sounds similar to “Got To Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye
There’s a reason generations of music listeners did the Electric Slide to “Blurred Lines” at family gatherings — which was the longest running chart hit of 2013 and one of the biggest of this decade — the funky groove laced throughout the song sounded very much like Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” The song was such a blatant copy and was becoming such a massive success in early 2013, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williamspreemptively sued the Gaye family before they could file their lawsuit. Well it backfired. According to CNN, Thicke and Pharrell were found guilty of copyright infringement, and had to pay out nearly $7.4 million and add a songwriting credit. Even with the legal victory, the “Blurred Lines” court battle still isn’t over. According to ABC News, now in 2016, the family of Marvin Gaye is suing for $3.4 million more. Ouch.
“Stay With Me” by Sam Smith sounds similar to “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty
British breakout star Sam Smith had a banner year in 2014, winning artist of the year at the Grammys, largely due to the success of his cross-Atlantic smash “Stay With Me.” But Tom Petty and the team behind his 1989 tune “Won’t Back Down” had reasons to feel used when the signature hook in Sam Smith’s song sounded eerily similar to “I Won’t Back Down,” and they took Smith to court. The courts sided with Tom Petty and he was eventually credited. Also, one YouTube user did a great job mashing up the two songs side by side to show the similarities.
“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars, sounds similar to both “Jungle Love” by Morris Day and The Time and “Oops Upside Your Head” by The Gap Band
Spirited novelty throwbacks to funky sounds from generation prior have been in vogue on the pop charts for quite some time — Daft Punk’s 2013 smash “Get Lucky” was a huge indicator of the reemerging appeal of funk on today’s pop charts. British-American producer Mark Ronson hit the ball out the park with Bruno Mars in their collaboration “Uptown Funk.” Anyone old enough to remember the dominance Minneapolis funk had on pop and R&B in the early ’80s will remember Morris Day and The Time’s sinewy funk jam “Jungle Love.” The glowing keyboards and chanting sound very similar on Mark and Bruno’s version. However, Tulsa, Oklahoma, funk trio The Gap Band was credited for songwriting after the fact, since the “uptown funk you up” refrain sounded so similar to the band’s 1979 hit “Oops Upside Your Head.”
“Born This Way” sounds similar to “Express Yourself” by Madonna
Lady Gaga seemed like a one-woman tour de force during the late ’00s, she could do no wrong in the eyes of many. However, all of her crazy costumes and catchy songs didn’t just come about by serendipity. When Gaga released her 2011 single “Born This Way” there was a heavy amount of Madonna thrown in the sound. The hook and the beat sounded so similar to the Material Girl’s 1989 single “Express Yourself” that Madonna interpolated “Born This Way” into a medley alongside her classic tune during live performances on the road in her MDNA World Tour in 2012.
“Some Nights” by fun. sounds similar to “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel
New York indie rock band fun. scored a sleeper hit with their catchy 2012 single “Some Nights.” However, for fans of ’70s singer-songwriters Simon & Garfunkel, the song sounded a little too similar to the 1970 tune “Cecilia.” Though the duo was never credited, according to Songfacts, lead vocalist Nate Ruess told “Billboard” magazine that Paul Simon’s “Graceland” was a huge influence.
“Roar” by Katty Perry sounds similar to “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles released “Brave” in 2013, and fans went nuts on social media after Katy Perry’s “Roar” surfaced later that year, mainly because of the similarities in the rhythm, chorus and feel of Perry’s song in comparison to “Brave.” According to E! Online, Bareilles felt the comparison wasn’t anything worth calling a ripoff. “I don’t feel like anything was taken from me artistically,” Bareilles explained. “I wasn’t the one having any problems with it.” Listen to the YouTube clip and you be the judge.
THE BIGGEST POP SONG RIPOFFS OF THE 2010S, SO FAR