The Songs Coldplay Didn't Write?

from the simple-coincidences dept

The What Is Fair Use? blog points us to a fascinating story, suggesting that one of the popular songs from the new Coldplay album has a nearly identical melody to a song by another band. This was brought to the world's attention by that other band, who put together this great YouTube video cheekily comparing the two:
There are a few ironies here, including the fact that the original song, by the band Creaky Boards, is called "The Songs I Didn't Write." The band also points out that the Coldplay version is being used in an iTunes commercial -- even though it's about the Crusades. The Creaky Boards version is about listening to music in your room -- which, indeed, seems like it would make for a better iTunes commercial.

Still, the good news is that this doesn't appear to be descending into legal threats or anything of that nature. Instead, the video concludes with a rather cheeky: "I wish Coldplay the best of luck. If they ever want to collaborate, I've got some microphones we could use in my bedroom." Coldplay, for its part, "totally refutes" the claims of the band, noting that the song was written well before the Creaky Boards performance in New York where the band thinks Coldplay's front man, Chris Martin, attended (the band also notes Martin was in London that night). It also notes the differences in the songs, and suggests that it's a "simple coincidence" that the songs sound similar.

Indeed, the guy from Creaky Boards later not only retracted his accusation, but suggested that perhaps both bands were actually "inspired" by the "Fairy Theme" in the Legends of Zelda. In a world of strict copyright, of course, that might make both songs "illegal," though I doubt anyone would think that would be the optimal outcome.

Of course, Martin also once admitted: "We're definitely good, but I don't think you can say we're that original. I regard us as being incredibly good plagiarists." The thing is, part of the point we keep trying to make around here is that, for the most part, that's true of just about everyone. It's the overly aggressive use of copyright law that prevents that sort of "goodness" from showing up. Oh, and it's also worth mentioning, that this little story has definitely increased the profile of The Creaky Boards -- proving one of the points we recently made about plagiarism. Even if the plagiarist is "bigger" than you, the original creator can use that to their advantage as well.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Sleastack, 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:40am

    Wow.....

    That is pretty close. Now if you Could put Mr. Martin in the crowd instead of London you might have something. This is another great example of simultaneous innovation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    some old guy, 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:46am

    fascinating

    I couldn't hear any resemblance at all between the two songs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jason m vale, 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:47am

    vaguely similar, that's all...

    It has a similar rhythm to it, but unless you're tone deaf, those aren't the same notes. The chorus isn't really even close.
    The fact is if any two song writers have listened to the same songs over time, it's entirely possible that they are going to come up with something similar. It makes you wonder how often a band comes up with a new song and then somebody walks in and says, "Hey, that sounds just like U2!". Then they change some notes here and there and the rhythm a little and a new song is made.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peralta, 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:50am

    ....

    Only a little bit of the melody is the same, the lyrics and instruments used are different so what the hell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kraftwerk, 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:53am

    More plagarism....

    Coldplay's "Talk" main melody sounds almost identical to Kraftwerk's "Comptuer Love", written decades before Coldplay was even a band.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0rYO1GDyis

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), 1 Jul 2008 @ 11:00am

    Copyright Induces Plagiarism

    It is copyright that provides the greatest inducement for musicians to avoid crediting or acknowledging their sources or influences - for fear of litigation.

    Without copyright, people can freely build upon each other's work, use the same or similar melodies, and credit each other with respect and honour.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James Yu, 1 Jul 2008 @ 11:09am

    Lots of Songs Sound the Same

    Anyone that understands even a little western music theory will know that the combinations of melodies that are most likely to appear in modern pop and rock music are very limited. If you break down the melodies into chord progressions for mainstream music, there are a handful of progressions that appear again and again.

    For example, the progression used by the famous Ave Maria aria are used tirelessly in pop music. I highly doubt Coldplay lifted anything from the Creaky Boards. If they did, that would be *quite* an honor.

    Copyright has absolutely no place with melodies in this respect. Even great composers like Mozart and Beethoven "plagiarized" melodies. They mostly did this out of respect and admiration of the original composer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ehrichweiss, 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:06pm

      Re: Lots of Songs Sound the Same

      Lots of songs do sound the same...like every last one of Whitney Houston's hits in the early 80's. A local radio station made a parody called "Don't All My Songs Sound the Same" to the tune of "Greatest Love of All"/that other song that sounded EXACTLY like GLoA. They pointed out what I had heard for about a week: lack of originality on Houston's part.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andy, 1 Jul 2008 @ 11:09am

    Coldplay

    After listening to coldplay's new album, I think they've got a good case of song stealing against themselves.

    They seem to have duplicated one song enough times to fill an album.

    Either that or the dude who copied the tracks to the master messed up and copied the same one over and over again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2008 @ 11:23am

    You wanna hear some serious copy cats check out a lot of Led Zeppelin songs and how strikingly similar they are to a lot of bands they liked before they made it.

    One of many examples:
    http://www.turnmeondeadman.net/Zep/StairwayToHeaven.php

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mlvassallo, 1 Jul 2008 @ 12:03pm

    Sounds like this kid is sad he isn't Coldplay. Its called exposure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JT, 1 Jul 2008 @ 12:10pm

      Re:

      Actually he's doing it the right way. He's not making threats or being pompous about it but he is getting his bands name out there and if he can get exposure because of Coldplay, I say exploit it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2008 @ 12:16pm

    You are finally learning what real musicians have known for years - that 99% of all rock has been identical since the 60s. There is only so much you can do with 3 chords and a backbeat on 2 and 4.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason Bentley, 1 Jul 2008 @ 12:48pm

    We all stand on shoulders

    This is as silly as George Harrison stealing "My Sweet Lord" from the Chiffons' "He's So Fine", or Smashing Pumpkins stealing "Disarm" from Lou Reed's "Sword of Damocles", or the Red Hot Chili Peppers stealing "Dani California" from Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance", or the Verve stealing "Bittersweet Symphony" from the Rolling Stones, or the Rolling Stones stealing "Anybody Seen My Baby" from k.d.lang's "Constant Craving", or...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Miss Leader, 1 Jul 2008 @ 12:50pm

    Misleading title

    Dirty folks at techdirt just whored out for my 10 cents of ad money by posting a completely bogus and misleading title. Buy yourself a milkshake out of the money earned by pimping this article techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DieLaughing, 1 Jul 2008 @ 1:12pm

    Yea? So what are you goint to do about it?

    I read these comments and it seems, while emotions ride high, that all you idiots can't do anything about it. It doesn't matter how you feel. You can't stop the machine. It will plow right over you. Copied it, didn't copy it. Doesn't matter because there is NOTHING you can do about it. Buy the music, don't buy the music. Bitch, don't bitch. You're still as impotent as you were five minutes ago. Your opinion, right or wrong, is meaningless. But, by all means, scream into the void.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Did you really read the comments???, 1 Jul 2008 @ 1:43pm

      Re: Yea? So what are you goint to do about it?

      Emotions riding high? Doesn't matter how you feel? What are you talking about, are you sure you read the comments? Your words seem totally out of place here...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:24pm

        Re: Re: Yea? So what are you goint to do about it?

        Actually if someone seems to be riding high on emotions it's DieLaughing. Relax DL, take a deep breath, it's certainly not worth getting that worked up over.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Omnie, 1 Jul 2008 @ 2:08pm

    I could barely hear any similarity.

    You want to see real similarity? Check out the song Death on Two Legs by Queen then listen to the song Funny Little Frog by Belle & Sebastian. I'm no expert, but Funny Little Frog sounds identical to the intro from Death on Two Legs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hank, 1 Jul 2008 @ 2:35pm

    Under Pressure leads to Ice Ice Baby, which leads to a bad dance routine in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which leads to my kid wanting me to make him a turtle costume for Halloween because he thinks its cool to dance like a turtle.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the article, I just like remembering my 4 year old son dancing as a turtle. Aren't kids great?!

    Oh yeah, I've said this before, anyone that thinks they are original is full of crap. Billions of people have come before us and there is bound to be at least one of them that had the same idea as you.
    You're not a snowflake, get over it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rose M. Welch, 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:00pm

    NOT Exclusively on ITunes...

    I downloaded my copy of that Coldplay song fron Amazon. So it's not exclusively from ITunes. Are they lying to get sales now? WTF?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Archer, 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:41pm

    No offense to anyone involved, and yes there is quite a similarity, but what is so surprising about two people coming up with approximately the same melody when the melody in question is as simple and perhaps even as assinine as an obnoxious nusery rhyme?

    What puzzles me is what would attract any of them to this meolody to begin with.

    Oh well, they know what they like, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dutch Oven, 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:20pm

    The Coldplay song sounds more like...

    a song from Joe Satriani. Check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ofFw9DKu_I

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jul 2008 @ 7:56am

    So this is why I actually enjoy Viva la Vida: it's not really a Coldplay song?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jakehohsfield (profile), 17 Sep 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Yes, the songs sound very familiar.
    For one, the rhythm of the melody has the same basic foundation. They both begin with a pickup one beat before the measure - one eighth followed by two quarter notes. This alone wouldn't be too great a similarity, however the reason they ring so familiarly is because both melodies begin on the seventh degree of the scale.
    More significantly, the chord progressions are nearly identical. In the verses, "Viva la Vida" follows a IV V Im7 vii pattern strictly. In "The Songs I Didn't Write," we see a similar foundation of ii V I vi pattern, with the occasional V/vii chord in place of a V chord during the chorus (resolves to V/iii, which resolves back to the ii again to begin the next verse).
    However, the similarity of these songs doesn't mean that Coldplay is guilty of anything. Listen to "The Foreigner" by Cat Stevens and "If I could Fly" by Joe Satriani. Music repeats itself over and over and over again. Consequently, being an 'incredibly good plagiarist' is a pretty useful skill, don't you think?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2012 @ 4:59am

    i love coldplay and viva la vida is a good song maybe its just by chance the songs sound the same anyway coldplay have had countless number 1s and creaky boards , nobodys heard of them

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FRM, 23 Jan 2016 @ 12:56pm

    If Chris Martin stayed longer with Gwyneth Paltrow most likely they would have more unwritten songs

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.