Elvis Costello speaks sense about senseless plagiarism charges

The Internet seems to be ganging up on Olivia Rodrigo for allegedly appropriating the ideas of other people. First, Courtney Love seems miffed that Rodrigo’s Instagram promo photo looks too much like the album artwork for Hole’s 1994 album, Live Through This.

Then there are those yelling about the similarities between Rodrigo’s “Brutal” and Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up.” The offending passage comes about 14 seconds in.

And for comparison, here’s “Pump It Up.”

So is Elvis upset? Hardly.

Sensible. Very sensible. Rodrigo is 18 years old. How could she be expected to know about a song from 1978? Let this discussion come to an end.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Elvis Costello speaks sense about senseless plagiarism charges

  • June 29, 2021 at 5:55 pm
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    …Once again, a bit of a “stretch”. Sure if you speed it up, have a 25 year old, pre-Punk male vocal, use less lyrics and more guitar…maybe, but not likely!

    Just my opinion…

    Reply
    • June 30, 2021 at 8:46 am
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      Yup the Elvis one is a stretch, thankfully he’s pretty cool with this stuff. There’s too many frivolous claims that make it to court and it just becomes a matter of who can confuse the jury the best with musical terminology they don’t understand.

      As for the Courtney Love one, Courtney wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in a legal sense, but I don’t think that’s what she’s after anyways from what I’ve read so far. Can’t expect an 18 year old to be versed in all album artwork that came out like a decade before she was born. But at the same time, someone on her team should have spotted the similarities and said “someone should get in touch with Courtney Love.” I don’t think she’d owe Courtney anything other than a heads up of “hey, I came up with this idea and I guess it’s the same thing you did in the 90s, we cool?” I guess my point is, Courtney shouldn’t have found out via social media, because to those who know both album covers it does seem very derivative (even if unintentionally so).

      Reply

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