The Strange, Stupid History of Pop Music Plagiarism

Plagiarism in music is a weird concoction of money, pride and misinterpretation. We all know that nobody has written an original rock song since 1953, and the entire music industry is founded on the principle of exchanging blurry photocopies of other people's work. But that certainly doesn't stop artists from realizing a cash opportunity when they see it. Case in point: Tame Impala, an Australian psych band currently fielding accusations that their song "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" rips off Argentinian singer Pablo Ruiz's "Océano," which we can almost be sure is a song that Tame Impala have never, ever heard. It doesn't matter, money talks, and the band will inevitably get sued and be tied up in courts for years to come.

So we decided to look back on some of the more interesting cases of music plagiarism. Who among our favorite artists decided to ingloriously steal (or take inspiration from, depends on your definition,) from others? Can we learn anything, or is this just a never-ending cat fight of litigation and tears? The answer is more obvious than you'd expect.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Luke Winkie