Imagine you’re a musician (if you are, apologies). Now, you put your heart, sweat, blood and tears into writing this masterpiece of a song. You gather money from EVERYWHERE and you manage to produce the song. Now, the song becomes a BillBoard giant, and you’re suddenly all over the place! You become super famous, you’ve got your money. Then it cools down a bit, the song is still heard in some places and all that jazz. And then a few years later, you’re listening to the BillBoard #1 and you recognize the beat. And then you recognize the tune. And then you realize that you know the beat and the tune, but you can’t sing along. And THEN it hits you that it’s your song! What do you do?
Like most of the things in the so – called “creative” world today, music also suffers from plagiarism. Now, there are two different types of plagiarism in music. One, would be using the same MELODY or the tune. The other would be to take a part of an already-recorded song and use it somewhere else (sampling). Now I’ve done my best to actually try and compose 3 of the most popular rip-offs. Check them out.
Vanilla Ice VS Queen feat. David Bowie
‘Ice, ice baby’ – probably one of the most famous tunes ever produced. This song was also among the first few hip-hop songs to ever reach #1 on the US BillBoard charts. But that just brought more pressure on Vanilla, because the song was actually a rip-off from Queen and David Bowie’s song, ‘Under Pressure’. In 1990, Bowie and Queen filed a formal case against Vanilla for the royalties. Ice thought he would get away because he had changed the rhythm of the bassline that was used in the song. But eventually, he had to give the royalties and song-writing credits to Bowie and Queen.
George Harrison VS Bright Tunes Music Corp
George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ was released January 15, 1971 and hit the charts on January 23, 1971 as George Harrison’s first solo single. It was released under the Apple label and enjoyed the number one spot originally for five weeks, then in 2002, again for one week. It remained on the charts for a total of twenty-seven weeks. All of this is the good news. The not so good news involves a song called “He’s So Fine” recorded by the Chiffons in 1962 and then moved under the Bright Tunes Music Corp label in 1971. The Chiffon’s song did well in the United States and received a somewhat okay reception in the UK. The case was settled with Harrison being Guilty of “Subconscious Plagiarism” and he had to pay a sum of 587,000$.
John Lennon VS Chuck Berry
“Here come ol’ flat-top. He come groovin’ up slowly” – Come Together, The Beatles.
“Here come old flat-top. He was groovin’ up slowly” – You Can’t Catch Me, Chuck Berry.
Chuck Berry sued John Lennon for using the lyric, and initially they came to a settlement whereby Lennon agreed to record three of Big Seven’s songs on his next album. Big Seven Music Corp. again sued Lennon for breach of contract, when his next album, Walls and Bridges, contained only a brief snippet of the song ‘Ya Ya‘ with the court awarding the company US$6,795.
It’s sad how people think they can get away with whatever they do. Oh well, nothing remains a secret forever, now does it?