Anyone who's ever tried to write a song has come up against that feeling that someone else has already written it. Decades into this 'rock 'n' roll era and beyond' and it's gotten harder and harder to not snatch a melody from someone else. There are twelve notes in pop music and only four or five worth thinking about. After awhile, you rip off yourself. As you will soon see.
There are still plenty more examples where these came from and I even avoided songs sampled into other songs. Now be sure to listen to these tunes and see if you can hear where the subconscious lift or outright rip-off occurs. Some are obvious, others less so. But it's all there!
10) Cat Stevens may have retired the 'Cat' brand, but it doesn't stop his people from confronting other artists who infringe on one of his melodies. Eventually these folks came to terms, but I think the Lips should have been given permission to re-write a few other Cat tunes. Just imagine what they could do with "Where Do the Children Play?" and "Mona Bone Jakon."
9) Not sure this has ever been acknowledged by either parties, but one listen to Dave Mason's piano part and visions of Roy Bittan tinkling behind the Boss should become clear. Dave's song leaves out the guy losing his job, getting his girl pregnant, getting married and driving down to a dry river but otherwise it's exact!
8) This one has fascinated me for years. When I first heard "Small Town" on the radio, I had just been listening to Ian Hunter's You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic album and was waiting for Mr. Mellencamp to begin singing the words to "When The Daylight Comes" since it was the same chords. People act like it never happened! See for yourself!
7) Dave Grohl is such good friends with everyone who has ever played rock 'n' roll in any capacity that I wouldn't be surprised to learn he has a "gentlemen's agreement" that says he's allowed to borrow a lick, a chorus, a song from other rockers as long as he agrees to invite them to play with him at a later date. Start playing "Wheels" and see if you don't start singing the Tom Petty song!
6) Sarah McLachlan does a pretty cool folkie version of the "Happy Xmas" holiday tune that John Lennon and Yoko Ono clearly wrote with an assist from the classic folksong "Stewball" that has been covered by numerous folk performers over the centuries. Joan Baez, a famous folkie, did a serviceable cover that shows off the familiar melody. Better put a pillow on the ground for when your jaw drops to the floor.
5) As a huge fan of the Barbra Streisand album Guilty with Barry Gibb, you know, the white one with them holding each other that was made into a poster…anyway, "Woman In Love" was so relatable to me as a youngster that I knew it by heart, so when Britney popped up with her pop song I was sure it was a co-write! But lo and behold it was not an homage but a call to arms!
4) From what I see, "Some Nights" is credited to four guys and none of them are named Paul Simon. Considering how Mr. Simon is known for allegedly borrowing rhythms and other alleged cultures as he sees fit for his own music, it shouldn't bother him much that a young band from New York stumbled upon some melodies and rhythms that can allegedly be heard in his own song.
(both written by producer Desmond Child)
3) How funny is it that Desmond Child gave Bonnie Tyler a tune that saw release in May 1986 and then had a song he wrote with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora that sounds a lot like it come out in July 1986? Is it stealing if you steal it from yourself? Hmmn, let's ask...
2) For anyone who swears that all Nickelback songs sound alike, I present to you these two beauts that appear on successive albums in the early 2000s. Having never made it through an entire Nickelback album, I can't say for sure whether or not the other songs on their albums sound different than these songs. They do not pay me enough to find out.
1) Some people maintain it's the same chorus pedal on the guitar that makes these songs sound similar but I think the guitar riffs are close enough to establish that Kurt Cobain listened to his share of Killing Joke albums back there in the great Pacific Northwest before he was famous.
I have no idea what to do with this mess. It was brought to my attention by other fine websites who police these matters and I have to say Joe Satriani should have had no more or less a case against Coldplay than anyone else on this list. Even the alternative group with the terrible name Creaky Boards have admitted songs like this were likely inspired by the video game The Legend of Zelda. A music professor traced the melody back to an Italian composer who died in 1736. It's a good thing people that old aren't allowed to sue!