ECHOES OF GENIUS

Plagiarism or Coincidence? 10 Songs that Sound VERY Similar.


Published on May 24, 2024


Credit: Clem Onojeghuo

They say that bad artists imitate, but it takes a great artist to make something new out of the work of others. In the world of music, the thin line between inspiration and plagiarism is often full of controversy, even when the similarities were not intended.

Whether it's a coincidence or something more deliberate, these 10 hit songs bear striking resemblances to each other, making us wonder if imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery.

1

"Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice (1990) vs. "Under Pressure" by Queen & David Bowie (1981)

Credit: Christopher Hopper

Is a sample plagiarism? Well, this iconic case brought the discussion to the mainstream in the early 90s, when there still wasn’t any legal protocol established to let artists reuse portions of others' recordings. To the bemusement of Queen members, Vanilla Ice lifted the entire bass line from Queen’s hit "Under Pressure" for his single "Ice Ice Baby." After the ensuing legal battle settled, Brian May declared that the whole thing might actually have been good in the end for the band, as it exposed them to a younger audience.

2

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve (1997) vs. "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones (1965)

Credit: Danny Lechanteur, CC BY-SA 3.0

Another early case of sampling gone wrong, The Verve brought the ire of the Rolling Stones on themselves after using a part of an orchestral rendition of The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" for their hit song "Bitter Sweet Symphony." The songwriter was actually denied any royalties for two decades due to the dispute. Kind of a tragic outcome since the band turned out to be a one-hit-wonder.

3

"Best Song Ever" by One Direction (2013) vs. "Baba O’Riley" by The Who (1971)

Credit: Jim Summaria, CC BY-SA 3.0

This one was mostly hyped by the media, but the similarities between the two songs got fans wondering if the legendary rock band would take legal action against the popular boy band. Both songs feature the same chords and a prominent synthesizer riff that drives the melody, creating an anthemic feel. But the Who were quick to dismiss the drama, arguing that all pop music sounds similar since its beginnings, and even joked on their website:

"It’s unlikely that die-hard Who fans will consider ‘Best Song Ever’ to be the best song ever, even if it is. Nor, though, is it likely that many will cry or raise an eye at this story. It is, after all, only Tweet Age Wasteland."

4

"Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars (2012) vs. "Roxanne" by The Police (1978)

Credit: Brothers Le, CC BY 2.0

Bruno Mars's "Locked Out of Heaven" is more a case of channeling the spirit of a beloved band than of plagiarism. Critics were quick to notice the similarities, and Bruno Mars outright admitted to being a fan of Sting’s electrifying songwriting, but stated that he didn’t intend to sound like him. And being influenced, at least in part, by the same musical genres - reggae, pop rock, new wave, and funk - comparisons were natural.

5

"What I Got" by Sublime (1996) vs. "Lady Madonna" by The Beatles (1968)

Credit: United Press International

Sublime's "What I Got" quite obviously draws inspiration from The Beatles' 1968 single "Lady Madonna," particularly in its rhythm-driven structure and main melody. However, while The Beatles' track exudes a vintage rock 'n' roll charm, Sublime infuses their ska punk sensibilities into the mix, resulting in a fresh yet familiar sound. In any case, they weren’t the first nor the last band to be heavily influenced by the legendary Fab Four.

6

"We Used To" by Dolly Parton (1975) vs. "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin (1971)

Credit: Leeann Cafferata from Washington DC and Akershus, Norway, CC BY 2.0

Though it may come as a surprise to many, Dolly Parton is actually a big fan of Led Zeppelin.

The lead chord progression of her 1975 hit "We Used To" mirrors Zeppelin’s most famous song, "Stairway to Heaven", even sharing some of the melancholic themes of the original song. Fortunately for Parton’s fans, the band never took legal action against her, and in 2002 she received the band’s blessing to record a cover of the song, showing that they are on good terms.

7

"Dani California" by Red Hot Chili Peppers (2006) vs. "Mary Jane’s Last Dance" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1993)

Credit: Takahiro Kyono from Tokyo, Japan, CC BY 2.0

While Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California" differ in lyrical content and vocal style, both tracks share a gritty, bluesy rock sound. But what raised some eyebrows is the fact that Frusciante’s guitar part sounds highly similar to the Heartbreakers piece. However, Tom Petty himself put the matter to bed soon after the song was released, doubting that there was any malicious intent behind the similarities, and pointing out that a lot of great rock songs sound alike.

8

"Viva la Vida" by Coldplay (2008) vs. "If I Could Fly" by Joe Satriani (2004)

Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg, CC BY-SA 4.0

Right after release, Coldplay's anthemic "Viva la Vida" drew comparisons to Joe Satriani's "If I Could Fly," leading to much speculation and a subsequent lawsuit. The case received a lot of attention in the media, and Coldplay straight out denied any intentional plagiarism, going as far as to say that Satriani’s song was the one that lacked originality. Ultimately, the demand was settled under an unknown arrangement, with Coldplay not having to acknowledge Satriani’s song as an influence, suggesting that the similarities were likely just a coincidence.

9

"Born This Way" by Lady Gaga (2011) vs. "Express Yourself" by Madonna (1989)

Credit: chrisweger, CC BY-SA 2.0

Both Madonna's "Express Yourself" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" are anthems of empowerment and self-expression. Gaga's track, however, drew criticism for its similarities to Madonna's hit, both in terms of musical structure and thematic content, sparking heated online debates about the difference between a homage and a ripoff. While the Queen of Pop teased Gaga for the similarities on a few occasions, she eventually recognized that it was likely more of a loving nod to her work than any form of plagiarism.

10

"C’est la Vie" by Shania Twain (2002) vs. "Dancing Queen" by ABBA (1976)

Credit: Kåre Eide, CC0

Shania Twain's "C'est la Vie" quite clearly echoes the infectious disco groove of ABBA's "Dancing Queen," with both songs featuring an almost identical hook. However, this was hardly concealed by the artist, a huge ABBA fan herself. As a matter of fact, she even reached out to Björn Ulvaeus, one of ABBA’s original members, to co-produce a musical out of her songs.


ARTSY THIEFS

10 Daring Art Heists That Stunned The World


Published on May 24, 2024


Credit: Eric TERRADE

Despite the fact that stealing art is arguably just as bad as any common crime, art heists have always captivated the imagination of the public, and the complex feats of these sophisticated robbers are depicted in countless movies and books. These audacious crimes often involve meticulous planning, intricate schemes, and sometimes, even a dash of glamour.

From masterpieces swiped in seconds to robberies that still baffle authorities, here are 10 of the most sensational museum and artwork thefts that have captured the world's attention.

1

A Nautical Heist (1473)

Credit: Kameron Kincade

Who said pirates couldn’t be art lovers? The daring theft of Hans Memling’s "The Last Judgment" was the first art heist to be recorded in history, and it took place in the sea, of all places. The religious painting was aboard a ship bound for Florence, Italy, when it was boarded by a Polish privateer called Paul Beneke, who proceeded to steal the painting among other valuables. The best part is that the painting ended up being blatantly displayed in the Basilica of the Assumption in Gdańsk, despite Italy’s efforts to get it back.

2

The Theft of the Mona Lisa (1911)

Credit: Michael Fousert

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is today the most famous painting in the world , so it's no surprise that it's been the target of theft. But in 1911 few people had heard of it, and the legendary painting was by no means as well guarded as now. When an Italian handyman was contracted by the museum he impulsively stole the masterpiece, hiding it in his apartment for over two years before it was recovered in Italy. Curiously, this theft was what actually made the painting world famous, so it wasn’t all bad in the end.

3

The Kidnapping of The Duke of Wellington (1961)

Credit: George Ciobra

In 1961, Britain’s national hero went missing from the National Gallery in London , and authorities were baffled. The thief turned out to be a retired bus driver called Kempton Bunton, who climbed through a window of the National Gallery, grabbed the Duke, and proceeded to straightforwardly leave the premises with the painting under his arm . Maybe museum security measures weren’t exactly bulletproof back then.

4

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist (1990)

Credit: Hanyang Zhang

In one of the most infamous art heists in history, thieves disguised as police officers stormed Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, gagging the museum’s security guards and making off with 13 priceless artworks , including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Degas. To this day, the pieces - valued at hundreds of millions of dollars - remain missing and the museum displays empty frames where the paintings used to be, in a haunting reminder of the unfortunate incident.

5

Edvard Munch's "The Scream" Double Robbery (1994 & 2004)

Credit: Steven van Deursen

In 1994, two men broke into Oslo's National Gallery, making off with Edvard Munch's "The Scream." The thieves even mocked the museum’s anti-theft measures with a note that said: "Thanks for the poor security." While the painting was recovered later that year, that was not the last of the adventures of Munch’s iconic piece. Ten years later, in a brazen daylight robbery, armed thieves stormed Oslo's Munch Museum, snatching "The Scream" again together with "Madonna," another painting by the same artist. Again, the paintings were recovered but suffered some damage during the whole ordeal.

6

The Van Gogh Museum Heist (2002)

Credit: Frans Ruiter

In 2002, during early morning hours, two thieves made use of a ladder to break into the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam through the roof. In a lightning-fast robbery, they stole two paintings and fled: Vincent van Gogh’s "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" and "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen," valued at $30 million dollars. Fortunately, both pieces were recovered in 2016, but the theft highlighted the vulnerability of even the most prestigious institutions.

7

When Spiderman Robbed The Paris Modern Art Museum (2010)

Credit: Meizhi Lang

In a bold overnight heist, a lone thief broke into Paris's Modern Art Museum and made off with five paintings worth an estimated €100 million. In a Hollywood-worthy move , the man entered the gallery by removing a glass pane without breaking it and still managed to elude the three guards on duty inside. The burglar, aptly nicknamed "Spiderman" for his acrobatic feats , was captured afterward, but the paintings were unfortunately never recovered.

8

The Kunsthal Museum Heist (2012)

Credit: Diane Picchiottino

Seven artworks, including pieces by Picasso, Matisse, and Monet, were stolen from Rotterdam's Kunsthal Museum in a meticulously planned heist. The museum’s alarm system went off during the robbery, but the thieves escaped before the police arrived. The thieves were eventually caught, but the paintings are still missing - and authorities suspect they were destroyed by the mother of one of the thieves in an effort to protect her son.

9

The Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Burglary (2015)

Credit: rc.xyz NFT gallery

While not focused on art, this audacious heist involved the theft of millions of pounds worth of jewels and other valuables from safe deposit boxes in London's Hatton Garden district. The theft was meticulously planned by a group of six elderly men - all experienced thieves - earning them the nickname of "Bad Grandpas." But it seems that crime never pays, as they were all quickly arrested afterward.

10

The Green Vault Heist (2019)

Credit: Nodir Khalilov

In 2019, the Green Vault museum in Dresden suffered a devastating blow when thieves infiltrated its Jewel Room, making off with priceless jewels and artifacts dating back to the 18th century. The thieves not only disabled alarms and streetlights by burning down a power box but also had to cut through iron bars and a reinforced window to gain entry, showing that there was quite a bit of planning behind the theft. Despite a series of arrests being made in connection to the robbery, only a portion of the stolen items were recovered.

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