Earlier this week, Nick Cave responded to accusations that he nicked the basis of the song "Palaces of Montezuma" from a tune by some guy named Frank Duffy called "Grey Man." It seems absurd someone as versatile as Cave would intentionally borrow a lick or two from another song. Any similarities are surely incidental. After all, there are only so may chord progressions and so many words that can be strung together before they start sounding like At the Drive-In-like gibberish. In honor of Grinderman, here's some other famous charges of pilferage.
10. Tom Petty vs. The Strokes
The Strokes openly admitted to copping the basis of "Last Night" from Tom Petty and Petty claimed not to care about it in an interview with Rolling Stone. Perhaps there's something to learn from this: if you're open about your influences, people are less likely to get up in arms... which isn't the case for the next few songs on this list.
9. Queen/David Bowie vs. Vanilla Ice
If you've listened to this and don't see the similarities, you're clearly deaf. This one falls under sampling -- which is fine, if only Vanilla Ice wouldn't have tried to slightly alter the bass line to avoid giving credit where credit was due. All he had to do was ask, ask, baby.
8. Huey Lewis vs. Ray Parker Jr.
The similarities here are kind of hilarious. We could see snatching the riff off an old tune or some no-name band -- but "I Want a New Drug" was a huge hit and someone was bound to notice. We're not saying we actually care, because both songs are iconic for their own reasons, but even still, Parker Jr. could have at least tried to make it a little different.
7. John Fogerty vs. John Fogerty
If we were going to sue every artist who wrote a song that sounded like an old song they already wrote, we'd be filing lawsuits all day. The problem was that Forgerty didn't actually own the songs that he wrote for CCR; the record label did. Sure, "Run Through the Jungle" and "Old Man Down the Road" are similar, but that's, uh, because he wrote both of them.
6. Killing Joke vs. Nirvana
This one's a pretty classic example of point-blank plagiarism for anyone under the age of fifty. That said, it's still worthy of another listen, just because "Come As You Are" so blatant lifts "Eighties" by Killing Joke. We're well aware songs can sound similar without being derivative and Nirvana took this in its own direction, but still -- just listen to that now iconic guitar line in its original, faster version.
5. Tommy Tutone vs. Bruce Springsteen
We're not going to lie and say we didn't chuckle a little when we first heard "Radio Nowhere." Of all the songs in the universe for Bruce Springsteen to accidentally emulate, "867-5309 Jenny" would have never been one of our guesses. Nobody really cared about this one -- but we're guessing The Boss got a little red in the face when he noticed what he'd done.
4. Chiffons vs. George Harrison
Will you look at that: Rock master and former Beatle gets sued for the proximity of "My Sweet Lord" to "He So Fine" by the Chiffons -- and actually loses. We suppose this was just a sign of the times or something, because most of these other cases ended in out-of-court settlements the public couldn't be privy to.
3. Tempest vs. Nelly Furtado/Timbaland
This one's a little complicated because Finnish demoscener Tempest allowed one artist to sample the original song "Acidjazzed Evening" -- which is the one Timbaland is accused of stealing for the Nelly Furtado track "Do It." If it was just the keyboard lick we'd give Timbaland the benefit of the doubt, but the whole thing seems totally jacked from both the original and the remix. We're pretty certain the original could have been used as a legitimate sample if Timbaland had asked, but as it stands we'll stand by the totally awesome Amiga version.
2. The Hollies vs. Radiohead
This one never made it to court because someone noticed the similarities to "The Air That I Breathe" by the Hollies and "Creep" by Radiohead before the latter's record was released. The song is so kindred, in fact, that the original songwriters, Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood, share songwriting credit in the liner notes.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
1. Joe Satriani vs. Coldplay
Joe Satriani accused the Coldplay dudes of hijacking his song "If I Could Fly" for their song "Viva La Vida." Satriani was pissed, and we all know that dude can wail on the guitars fast enough to make the Silver Surfer fly through the sky. Coldplay denied his allegations, but the two ended up settling out of court, probably because Coldplay was scared Satriani might set them on fire. Amazingly, this isn't the most egregious of offenses on this list, but it's certainly the most publicized. Clearly, the Coldplay version has less guitar solos.