People Who Have Been Caught Up in Unfortunate Sonic Coincidences

Let me emphasize this once again: there are are only so many ways we can order the notes of the Western scale into pleasing orders. After more than 60 years of rock and pop, it’s inevitable that there will be all kinds of accidental duplication.

This isn’t plagiarism, which accuses the copier of claiming someone else’s work as their own. These are unfortunate sonic coincidences.

The guy that’s been the spotlight lately is Sam Smith and “Stay with Me.” A settlement with Tom Petty’s people (NOT a lawsuit) saw Petty and his co-writer, Jeff Lynne of ELO, get a slice of the songwriting credits (and hence the profits) from “Stay with Me” because of the uncanny similarities between it and Petty’s 1989 song, “I Won’t Back Down.”

Let me illustrate:

This was a very famous case from the early 70s that saw George Harrison lose to the Chiffons.

Elastica got nailed by Wire over this Britpop song. And yeah, they admitted that they were actually trying to write a song like Wire. Naive kids…

Oasis was accused of ripping off plenty of other artists–but did Green Day rip off Oasis? Well, no–but they did share a tune.

The AV Club has plenty more examples here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

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