December 6, 2008

"Some bands are reluctant to admit that they take things from other artists... We're shameless in that respect. We don't mind telling."

Coldplay openly admits ripping off Kate Bush:



I think that is admissible evidence in this new lawsuit by Joe Satriani, who says Coldplay ripped off his song. Here's a good (and blessedly short) video comparison of the 2 songs:



I can't cite cases, but there's got to be a rule that melodies that generic can be copied with impunity. Isn't it about what you'd sing off the top of your head if you whimsically decided -- instead of speaking -- to sing the next few things you had to say.

Satriani's song is insipidly titled "If I Could Fly," which sounds like the title of every horrible "American Idol" finale song. There are about 10 reasons why I hope he loses this lawsuit, and not one of them has to do with Coldplay being any good.

37 comments:

stepskipper said...

Bad artists imitate, good artists steal.

1jpb said...

They sound more similar to each other than that new right-wing-outrage talking baby toy actually sounds like it's saying "Islam is the light."

John Stodder said...

Nobody should want to claim credit for such a limp, simpering melody.

Pop music is in a crisis if Coldplay is the biggest rock band in the business.

Bissage said...

I don't know anything about those four guys in the video but I like cold cuts.

Simon said...

I think that an affirmative defense for Coldplay here is "who is Joe Satriani?"

(Yes, yes - I know who Joe Satriani is. But I've heard some of Coldplay's records, and I think it's eminently plausible that they don't. You've got to understand that there are two kinds of people in Britain who have ever heard a Joe Satriani record: guitar shredders and American expats. They have not heard Summer Song on the radio; they have not heard Surfing with the Alien at a Hockey game. Satriani is - or, five years ago, was virtually unheard of in the British mainstream where Coldplay's generic driven lives and finds favor.)

One more thing - that was an attempt to rip off Running up that Hill? Really? Man! No wonder their albums are so awful, they aren't even competent to steal someone's music! This is every teenage band you've ever heard trying desperately to play Interstellar Overdrive and failing.

Donna B. said...

10 reasons? You mean it's wrong on that many levels?

I think Satriani should win based on the 2nd video. It appears Coldplay stole not only the melody (for bar after bar after bar, which is much more than coincidence) but also the accompanying chord progressions, the tempo, the rhythm, ie, everything except the words.

garage mahal said...

Let's see these out-of-tune limp wristed soul-less hacks plagiarize this.

I hope he gets more than Howlin Wolf got from Led Zeppelin for ripping him off with impunity for years and not even acknowledging his passing.

Original George said...

Killing Floor

Simon said...

Odd, I can't find the complaint in Pacer. Supposedly filed on 12/4 in Los Angeles? The Central District's docket has entries from the Fourth, but it doesn't seem to think so. Are we sure this is legit?

matthew said...

Can a band steal from itself?



Exhibit one against Nickelback

Robert said...

Riff stealing seems to be Coldplay's thang. By their own admission, they openly stole from Kraftwerk in this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0rYO1GDyis

Widmerpool said...

Well I would presume item 1 on the list of objectives for the litigation is publicity, item 2 prolonging it as much as possible and item 50 or so is actually winning.

zeek said...

How about Shania Twain "borrowing" from four different songs.

Cabbage said...

Satriani's song is insipidly titled "If I Could Fly," which sounds like the title of every horrible "American Idol" finale song.

Take it easy Ann. Words are not Satchmo's thing. The man's made a career out of writing pop songs without any freaking words.

dbp said...

The words may be the key point: The Coldplay tune is clearly a ripoff of Joe Satriani, but at least they made-up words for the song.

As to Coldplay's awareness of Satriani: They may be purveyors or boring pop pap, but they are musicians and so they must have heard Joe Satriani. So, despite Satriani being obscure in the UK, I would bet he wasn't obscure to the members of Coldplay.

They were probably hoping that they would escape the notice of him.

Chip Ahoy said...

There are about 10 reasons why I hope he loses this lawsuit, and not one of them has to do with Coldplay being any good.

This is wrong on so many levels I don't even know exactly where to start. First, I like Cold Play so much I want to have their babies, but that's quite impossible, but I honestly don't understand all the hate. I also like Kate Bush. She da bomb! I want to have her baby too but she won't return my calls and the restraining order is a bit of a problem presently. I also really really like the song Cold Play's Speed of Sound and I really really really (3 reallys) like Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill.

*counts *

That looks like four things so far. Fifthly, I don't see anything wrong with Cold Play acknowledging their inspiration, in fact, I think it's humble and honest, but sixthly, I do understand being pissed off about a straight-up rip off like the second example where the songs are overlapped to awesome effect, so seventhly, Yay!, new synthesis FTW !

* dances *
* gets a Chris Martin fair trade = sign tattoo on finger even though it's totally the loon*
* rips off a song and publishes *
* glees *

This fills me with hope for a glorious musical future.

Trooper York said...

Boy we are starting our American Idol bashing early.

Trooper York said...

That's a good thing because there are so many terrific things to watch on TV these days.

Pastafarian said...

garage mahal -- once again, you beclown yourself, this time with respect to music.

The suit against Page and Plant re. their "theft" of Mississippi blues elements was bullshit. Yes, they borrowed elements from blues, including chords and lyrics; as all blues musicians have, since the start of this narrow genre.

If every blues musician had to pay royalties every time they used the phrases "should have been gone" or "I should have quit you" or mentioned crossroads, then Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters would themselves have gone broke paying royalties to Robert Johnson.

"The Lemon Song" was an homage to several blues musicians; and Page and Plant settled out-of-court out of respect to Chester Burnett, not because they were caught doing anything wrong. It was a lose-lose situation for them.

Everyone knows this; other than assholes like you, who perpetuate this myth.

Play "Killing Floor" and "The Lemon Song" simultaneously, and see how well they match up, like they do these Cold Play and Satriani tunes. Their only similarity is the use of the phrase "killing floor" in the lyrics.

As to the topic of this post: No matter how bad the two songs are, it's rather suspicious that you can play them simultaneously and actually end up with a song better than either of the two individual songs. Satriani was robbed.

garage mahal said...

Pasta:
Play "Killing Floor" and "The Lemon Song" simultaneously, and see how well they match up, like they do these Cold Play and Satriani tunes. Their only similarity is the use of the phrase "killing floor" in the lyrics.

I think you made my point better than I did. Check the official writing credits on The Lemon Song and you will find Chester Burnett. I'm not even sure what your point is here other than you feel artists can borrow lyrics and arrangements from each other without permission. If you don't want to go broke paying royalties come up with your own shit or call yourself a cover band.

Simon said...

dbp said...
"As to Coldplay's awareness of Satriani: They may be purveyors or boring pop pap, but they are musicians and so they must have heard Joe Satriani. So, despite Satriani being obscure in the UK, I would bet he wasn't obscure to the members of Coldplay."

I'm sure they had heard of him - even boring guitar players like the one from Coldplay buy guitar magazines. But as I said above, I would bet real money that no member of Coldplay has listened to a Satriani record. They will claim as much to defeat this suit, and I will believe them. That's just how it is in Britain. People who lke Satriani don't listen to Coldplay records if they can help it, and vice versa. Maybe there are some exceptions, but none that I ever met. The folks who like Coldplay regard Satriani, Vai etc. as masturbatory noodly crap, and I can't repeat in polite company what the Vai/Satch fans think of Coldplay and their fans.

EDH said...

I can't cite cases, but there's got to be a rule that melodies that generic can be copied with impunity.

If Satriani can show Coldplay had access to his music, I think he only has to prove "substantial similarity," whereas if he can't, he has to show "striking similarity."

Creativity begets creativity. Even if Shania Twain (or, more precisely, Mutt Lange) did a pedestrian rip off Aerosmith's Uncle Salty,I think this "homophobic" Chevy Commercial
was worth it.

veni vidi vici said...

Apart from her awful phrase-lift of the hook from Abba's "Dancing Queen" in her song, "C'est la Vie", Shania's rip-offs are all of Def Leppard songs from the "Hysteria" era. Makes sense, given that her husband, co-writer and producer was Mutt Lange, who produced and co-wrote the Def Leppard songs in question.

Lange sang much of the "gang vocal" backgrounds on both Def Leppard's and Twain's albums; the similarities are hilarious.

Simon said...

EDH said...
"If Satriani can show Coldplay had access to his music, I think he only has to prove 'substantial similarity,' whereas if he can't, he has to show 'striking similarity.'"

"Had access to" or "actually accessed"? Surely in a post-YouTube world, all Satriani would have to prove access is that Coldplay have heard of the internet and that his song was on it at some point before or during the timeframe in which Coldplay purport to have written the song?

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

I think there must be a distinction between a rip-off and plagiarism. Maybe rip-off is an umbrella category. It seems like plagiarism should only apply when the two are identical. These two melodies are not identical. As far as I can tell, they share the first three notes and then go off in different directions. As far as the chords, there are so many songs that share chord progressions it seems impossible to base anything off of that.

I think it's likely that they have an ongoing method of songwriting that consists of basically rewriting a song they like.

Trooper York said...

And what does that douche Chris Martin know about life when his muse is that skinny vanilla wafer twat Gwyneth Paltrow.

OSweet said...

Originality is just a word for a faulty memory.

(ripped off from someone)

Chris said...

I was crazy about a girl in high school who sang Wuthering Heights in the talent show. It was an unrequitted love. Kate Bush had a few good years in the late 70s+

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Actually, the original controversy with this song was that an unknown band claimed that same Coldplay song was ripped off his song. Here's that comparison, which came out before this Satriani stuff:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUhFLiw6h6s

Let me just say, I HATE the Creaky Boards video. Get your mouth/teeth/mustache out of my FACE!

That one was clearly not a real rip-off and the claim was pure self-promotion, but lots of people thought it was. Coldplay issued some kind of a response, and tried to prove that they weren't at some particular performance of that band. I always thought that Satriani video was a way of saying to the band Creaky Boards, there are plenty of other songs out there than have even more in common with this Coldplay song than yours does.

Hector Owen said...

The Copyright Infringement Project, formerly at Columbia, now at UCLA, is a source of much amusement on this topic. Who knew that there were plagiarism cases brought over such songs as "Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)" and "Does Anybody Want a Little Kewpie?"

Saul said...

That the songs can be overlayed, means they have the same tempo, are in the same key, have the same melody, and the same chords. There is nothing wrong with derivative work, but a straight out rip off of someone else's work, either negligently or intentionally, should give rise to royalties to the original artist, much like sampling.

Joe said...

"We’re one of the world’s worst, but most enthusiastic plagiarists, as a band. We’ll try and copy anything but tend to fail so we come up with something that sounds like us, only through trying to sound like somebody else."

"The key rule was that we could steal from anybody except ourselves."

Chris Martin during an interview about recording the album Viva La Vida.

This is obviously plagiarism and Cold Play deserves the slapped down for it.

As to the suggestion that Cold Play might not know who Satriani is, give me a break. Check out the guy's resume; he makes Cold Play look like the chumps they are.

James said...

To those who might question if Coldplay would have even heard of Satriani to begin with, from a vh1 interview:

Chris: "...Being in Coldplay is what I live for, and I'd be gutted if people didn't want us around. This is getting depressing! This is going to be on VH1's 100 Saddest Stories: the day we gave up because no one liked us. Get Joe Satriani to comment on that!"

http://www.vh1.com/artists/news/1456997/08122002/coldplay.jhtml

James said...

Which doesn't make sense, because I can't find any indication that Joe Satriani "gave up" the music business at any point in time, let alone because "no one liked him." So it makes Chris seem like an ignorant prick, (well, at least more than normal), in addition to being a horrible artist and apparently a plagiarist.

rhhardin said...

Years ago a local business owner wrote his own radio jingle for their ad, saving his business royalties; words cannot describe how awful it was.

There's a melody class beyond generic that's seldom heard.

Alex said...

Stop listening to bad bands like Coldplay and start listening to great British bands like Muse instead. Where the real innovation is.

LoafingOaf said...

Simon: I'm sure they had heard of him - even boring guitar players like the one from Coldplay buy guitar magazines. But as I said above, I would bet real money that no member of Coldplay has listened to a Satriani record. They will claim as much to defeat this suit, and I will believe them. That's just how it is in Britain. People who lke Satriani don't listen to Coldplay records if they can help it, and vice versa.

But if Coldplay wanted to rip off another artist in more blatant and disrepstable fashion than usual, might they not want to go sifting through the instrumental albums of an artust who is obscure to their listeners?

---

I don't listen to either of these arists. The only exposure I've had to Satriani was like ten years ago when he was advertising an album on the Howard Stern show. One of those deals where Stern would ad lib a whole bit when he was playing the record. Howard pointed out how great it was that this was music you didn't have to hear anyone yapping their crappy lyrics over, and you cn just invent your own lyrics for it. I guess that's what Coldplay did.