Rip-off Roundup part I

Yesterday at work while shuffling on the player, two tracks were sequenced and I was alarmed at the exact riffing on the baselines. The songs were "Debra" by Beck and "My love for you" by Ramsey Lewis.
Although I lost some time skipping back and forth the two songs to my colleagues to prove my amazing discovery until I annoyed them, it gave me a good idea for a post. Remember kids: Sampling and covering is cool, ripping off and not credit is not.

Round 1: Beck vs. Ramsey Lewis
Both songs sound very familiar in mood and especially in the baseline. As they progress Ramsey Lewis gets lost in an endless funk jam and Beck, predictably, sticks with the original riff throughout the song.

Ramsey Lewis - my love for you
Beck - Debra

Final Verdict: I'm gonna go for Beck on this one. I'm not the biggest beck fan but I thought "Midnite Vultures" was the shit when it first came out, I rarely listen to it anymore but I still stand Mr. Beck's rip-offs now and then. Sorry Mr. Lewis.

Round 2: Visage vs. Kelly Osbourne
A shameless rip-off only a few are aware of. Kelly Osbourne passed the fine line between copy and cover on this one. Fuck, it even has a fancy spoken french word at the beginning of "her" song.
Such rip-off from an mtv branded artist couldn't pass without notice in the music biz and Mrs. Osbourne was contacted immediatly by Visage themselves for explanations. Apparently they arranged a collaboration on Kelly's new album or I think it was rather a collaboration from Kelly on a comeback album by visage... I'm sorry, I really don't remember how it turned out and I'm too lazy to find out.

Visage - fade to grey
Kelly Osbourne - one word

Final Verdict: The original one tickles me better by far. There's also an extended version of "fade to grey" which is even better and which I'd recommend you to look for (probably will post it anyways in the near future).

Round 3: The Beatles vs. Sublime
The first time I heard "What I got" I noticed it sounded really familiar. Then when "Lady Madonna" appeared on the radio a few days later, it dawned on me. The similarity in both songs' vocalization on the verses is so big and both songs are so widely known across the world that I'm surprised none of the beatlemaniacs I know have pointed it out when "What I got" rises up from someone's old stereo. Maybe they're just not similar at all and I'm the only person that perceives it as a rip-off.

The Beatles - lady madonna
Sublime - What I got

Final Verdict: Tough one. I'll call it a tie but unfortunately I don't have the time to explain to you the reasons why. (Swoosh!, look I'm magically vanishing now.)

If you've got some more rip-offs you'd want to share, comment or mail me. I'd appreciate if you'd like to feed my current rip-off obsession very much. Thank you.

Image: one of the numerous anonymous copies from the 16th century of the Mona Lisa claimed to be the original one.


  • At 2:38 AM, May 26, 2006, Blogger just a brief smile said…

    Try Radiohead's A Wolf At The Door (It Girl. Rag Doll) and The Beatles' Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

  • At 3:00 AM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    djkl@djkl.com says: I found that Lordi's "Hard Rock Hallelujah" from Eurovision had some pretty major elements of Alice Cooper's "Poison".

  • At 12:23 PM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great finds here!

    I'm only starting a music blog on training wheels at MySpace before launching something more serious, but I've had a few posts on "soundalikes" that aren't full-on ripoffs, but certainly have resemblance issues. Like Feel Good Inc and U2's Staring at the Sun, etc.

  • At 12:36 PM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmm, a mi la de "while my guitar gently weeps" de los beatles y la de black eyed boy de texas me suenan muy parecidas.

  • At 12:46 PM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know, I'd forgotten how much I love that Beck tune, Debra. While I know he is totally goofing on the early 70s soul genre (which I LOVE), it's so well done, even tongue in cheek.

  • At 5:23 PM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Offspring's "Why Don't you Get a Job?" sounds a lot like The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da".

  • At 7:26 AM, May 27, 2006, Blogger Kevin L said…

    Green Day's "Warning" is a not so subtle rip off of The Kinks "Picture Book".

    Also, give a listen to John Lennon's "Remember" and Robyn Hitchcock's "Somewhere Apart".

  • At 8:32 AM, May 27, 2006, Blogger Unknown said…

    Neil Young's "Living With War" album feels a lot like Beatles give peace a chance.

  • At 11:31 AM, May 27, 2006, Blogger Moka said…

    Thanks for sharing these with me, some are very subtle to be considered rip-offs (wolf at the door/lucy in the sky with diamonds) but you're right after close inspection those songs you mention do sound a lot alike.
    Kevin: Yeah I've noticed the similarity in remember and somewhere apart. Also for an almost exact note by note rip-off of "picture book" check steriogram's "walkie talkie man", I think it's really fun (and yes, it is a more creative ripoff than "warning")

  • At 11:47 AM, May 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Rapture also rips off Visage pretty hard on "Sister Savior".

  • At 1:06 PM, May 30, 2006, Blogger cookies from elastic said…

    My parents were visiting over the long weekend, and when "What I Got" came up on itunes (I must have background music at all times), my dad immediately asked, "Is that Lady Madonna?" I had never made the connection before, but you are both right! Just wanted to let you know it's not just in your head.

  • At 6:20 PM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Moka said…

    Thanks for telling me this cookies, you've made me feel more sane today :)

  • At 11:41 AM, June 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great post! I've been keeping notes on songs that strike me as a bit too familiar, too... One that I find amazingly bold is The Little Ones' "Cha Cha Cha," which borrows the very distinctive drums (tom toms?) and guitar lines from Kings of Leon's "The Bucket." I don't see any attribution on The Little Ones' web site...?

    Again, thanks for the great post. :)

  • At 7:31 PM, September 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That was definitely "Lady Madonna" being ripped off. What a joke, these bands should learn how to quit sucking and write their own damn music rather than stealing from the greats.


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