Three bands defined by the songs they plagiarized

1. Elastica or three girls playing rhumba.

Elastica was an English band formed in the nineties. They were clearly influenced by the post punk band Wire.

Their biggest hit was the song Connection.

The synthesizer intro and guitar parts are lifted from the riff in Wire’s “Three Girl Rhumba“. The legal dispute was resolved in a out-of-court settlement.

Initially, the band was formed by Justine Frischmann, Annie Holland, Donna Matthews and Justin Welch. Three girls and a boy.

What distinguished them from the rest of the brit pop bands was their fixation for the post punk era, when syncopated rhythms were widely used.

The rhumba combines the African syncopated rhythms and Spanish melodies.

So, Elastica were three girls playing rhumba, just as the Wire song was indicating.

2. Nirvana fights the eighties.

Come as you are” was their last American and UK top 40 hit.

But Nirvana and Gold Mountain, their management, wasn’t too sure about releasing the song as the second single from Nevermind. The similarity between the main riff of “Come as You Are” and Killing Joke’s “Eighties” was too evident.

Later, when Killing Joke complained, they said that they never heard of them. Astonishingly, the English band didn’t sue Nirvana for stealing their riff, maybe because it wasn’t. “Life Goes On“, recorded by The Damned, features the same riff.

Killing Joke declared they never heard the song.

The lyrics of “Eighties” contains lines such as: “I’m living in the eighties. I have to push, I have to struggle. Get out of my way, i’m not for sale no more… I’m sitting on a table talking ideals”. The message of the song appears to be the struggle against the conformist vibe in the 80’s.

Nirvana was “living in the eighties”. Kurt Cobain formed the band in 1987. The general consensus is that the success of Nevermind marked the triumph of alternative rock versus the commercial rock of the eighties. Cobain, in many of his interviews, “talked his ideals”, including his loathing of successful bands like Guns and Roses.  The image projected by Nirvana was that “they were not for sale”.  Nevermind rose to the top beating Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, the artist that symbolized the 80’s.

In “Eighties”, you can also hear “let’s kamikaze ’til we get there”. Everybody knows how Kurt Cobain ended his life. He should have listen to the Dammed song.

3. Oasis proves that it’s sweet to be an idiot.

In 1994, Oasis released the single Whatever.

Initially, Noel Gallagher claimed being the writer of the song. But, in fact, it borrowed heavily from the melody of Neil Innes’ “How sweet to be an idiot”.

After the inevitable lawsuit, Innes got his writing credits and a truckload of money.

Although “How sweet to be an idiot” is about the bliss of being the mentally challenged of the village, the title suited the attitude of the brothers Gallagher during the nineties.

Their message was simple: hooliganism is cool. So they publicly declared that they hope that the Blur bassist will gets AIDS, cracked the skull of a journalist and bragged about their cocaine and alcohol diet.

“How sweet to be an idiot” was another Beatlesque tune from Innes. His capacity for writing Beatles pastiches without being sued was astonishing. In fact, that ability made the spoof band The Rutles possible. Noel Gallagher has an affection for the Beatles pastiches too. And you can see his brother Liam desperately trying  to be John Lennon.

In fact, in the song Whatever, you hear him singing “I’m free to be whatever I
Whatever I choose”. It seems that he has chosen to be John Lennon. But, depending of you affection for their music, you can see him more like Nasty, the Lennon caricature played by Innes in The Rutles movies.


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