The music industry: devoid of originality?
Ever feel Déjà vu when switching on the radio? It’s kind of like you’ve heard the music before, but can’t quite put your finger on it? Usually, that’s because you have heard it before some years ago and this preposterous adaptation is the result of the modern-day artist lacking creative drive – or at least that’s what I’m told? It would seem nowadays you can’t make it through a rap song without hearing bits and snippets of other popular songs that have been “sampled” in.
We have entered an age of remixes and mash-ups and samples, taking other people’s work, remaking it into something new. And, unfortunately, there’s no turning back once the likes of 1D and 5SOS sink their teeth into the most cherished of golden oldies. Yes, I’m afraid the days of singing, at the top of your voice, down the end of your hairbrush, to a classic 80’s record has lost appeal. Sigh. Instead, rafts of teenage girls screeching excessively down their phones after the latest boy band “revamp” is commonplace.
I decided to ask around to see if others had ever encountered anything similar – not just on the radio, or TV, but at a gig or anywhere else. To my dismay, a few friends, who, like me, were in their 20s, suggested this was an “outdated” concept and that I just needed to “get with the times.” It didn’t feel outdated, though. To me, it seemed like youngsters were oblivious and nobody was noticing the scale of the problem, because no one bothered to raise the issue.
So, I decided to look online in search of something to confirm that my suspicions were not just in my head. After googling “music sampling in today’s society” I discovered various examples of music samples all sounding overwhelmingly similar to their original counterpart:
1) Katy Perry VS Sara Bareilles
Bareilles song came out first in April 2013, earning the singer-songwriter a minor hit, peaking at 31 on the Billboard top 100. Four months later and Katy Perry’s big comeback song was unveiled – and people noticed an uncanny resemblance between the two or, in layman’s terms: the backing for both songs were identical. No lawsuits here though, as Bareilles commented “Katy’s a friend of mine and we’ve know each other a really long time, so she even texted me about it…all love everybody, all love.” On Perry’s behalf, co-writer Dr Luke tweeted that Roar was written and recorded before Brave came out. While that may be true, that doesn’t mean he might have heard it before release and thought “hmmm, that’s good.” I’m just saying it’s possible, that’s all..
2) Lady Gaga VS Madonna
Like Katy Perry, the pressure on Gaga’s comeback single for her second album was immense, so few could have blamed her for playing it safe and going with a song that had been, ahem, ‘road-tested’ already. Knowing Gaga, it was probably all a deliberate ploy to create controversy, as Born This Way was hugely influenced by the former Queen of Pop Madonna’s hit Express Yourself. Madge did not make a claim; however, she called Gaga ‘reductive’ and performed a mashup of the two songs on her MDNA tour, with the song culminating with lines from a song called She’s Not Me – a song about Madonna being emulated by someone else. Miaow.
3) The Vamps VS Simon Garfunkel
Another shocking sample comes in the form of The Vamps’ sixth and seventh tracks, ‘Risk It All’ and ‘Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)’ respectively. The prior is a big mid-tempo track that is reminiscent of Fun’s ‘We Are Young’ and is also the first track to pull back on the reins a bit and break up the upbeat songs. Of course, it doesn’t last long before it slips into ‘Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart),’ a track sampling the entire chorus of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Cecilia.’ It’s within these two songs we notice a distinct lack of originality from these fresh-faced favourites. “Sorry boys, it’s a no from us!”
4) Avril Lavigne VS The Rubinoos
Avril Lavigne’s 2007 hit Girlfriend was an enormous hit (212m YouTube hits and counting), but she probably already knew it would be, as the main hook was based on a song which had already been road-tested. Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer of the 70s power pop band The Rubinoos (who also wrote I Think We’re Alone Now) alleged that the song borrowed from I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (see what Avril did there) and the case was settled out of court in 2008.