Many songs have similarities. Who hasn’t gone, “Hey, that song sounds like this other song.” After all, there are only so many musical notes, scales, and sounds available to humans. However, some songs are . . . how do I put this . . . blatant and unapologetic copies of others songs. Here are some songs that, in my opinion (and, in some cases, the opinion of the courts) are ripped from other songs.
Disclaimer: These are all my opinions. Don’t sue me. I’m a writer and a student. Thus, I have no money.
1. Mayer Hawthorne “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’” (2009) and The Supremes’s “You Can’t Hurry Love” (1966)
This one is just ridiculous. The beginning, the bass line, the trumpets, the melody line, the drums, the tambourine—you didn’t even try to hide it did you, Mr. Hawthorne? Honestly, I don’t know why Hawthorne hasn’t been sued yet. Maybe “You Can’t Hurry Love” is so old that it is now considered part of the public domain. Who knows? Personally, I’ll take “You Can’t Hurry Love” over “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’” all day long.
2. Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” (1967) and Sam and Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’” (1966)
Well, I guess that it’s okay to copyright infringe on yourself . . . .
3. George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” (1971) and The Chiffons “He’s So Fine” (1962)
“My Sweet Lord” was George Harrison’s first solo single and, instead of getting praise, poor Harrison was slapped with a lawsuit by Bright Tunes Music Corporation for copyright infringement of “He’s So Fine.” In the end, the judge concluded that Harrison didn’t mean to copy “He’s So Fine,” but deemed that Harrison still had to pay $587,000.00 to Bright Tunes. You can read more here: “George Harrison vs Bright Tunes Music Corp.”
4. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” (1971) and Spirit’s “Taurus” (1968)
One of the most iconic songs of all time stolen from another band? *gasp* Spirit actually toured with Led Zeppelin back in the day, and the last surviving member of Spirit has filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin. If you listen to the beginning instrumental of “Taurus,” it becomes very hard to deny the similarities between that song’s guitar lick and the iconic guitar arpeggio in “Stairway to Heaven.” Okay, let’s be honest. It sounds pretty much lifted straight from “Taurus.” The melodies of the two songs are different, but, man, that guitar. It will be interesting to see what the courts decide. You can read more about the lawsuit here: “Spirit v. Led Zeppelin: Analysis of the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Infringement Lawsuit.”
5. Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” (1990) and Queen & David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” (1981)
This one was so obvious that it is known as one of the most famous copyright infringements in music.
Vanilla Ice tried to deny the blatant ripping of “Under Pressure” in the clip below. Right. The bass lines are different. Sure, Mr. Vanilla Ice, sure.
6. John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” (2006) and Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” (1965)
Listen to the beginning melody line of each song. Methinks Mr. Mayer was influenced by/copied Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” Although, if you’re going to copy an artist, you might as well copy one of the best.
I should say that music constantly influences other music, no matter the genre. In a way, music is one big human and global collaboration. Heck, Paul McCartney and John Lennon once said that they were hugely influenced by the American girl groups of the 1960s. However, there is a difference between giving a musical nod to an artist and music plagiarism. What are some songs that you think might be copies of other songs?