Pop music's biggest thieves

  • Breaking
  • 23/12/2013

One Direction might be the biggest band on the planet at the moment, but that doesn't mean they can go stealing from a former holder of that title and get away with it.

The popular boyband are facing accusations of plagiarism following the release of their new album Midnight Memories, and in particular the title track's resemblance to Def Leppard's rock classic 'Pour Some Sugar On Me'.

But they're hardly be the first to be accused of borrowing a little too liberally from their predecessors.

George Harrison vs the Chiffons

In 1971 George Harrison was sued over his classic song 'My Sweet Lord', showing not even the Beatles are above knicking a tune or two. His plagiarism of the Chiffons' 1963 hit 'He's So Fine' was so blatant, a cover version of the original song, using Harrison's guitar licks from 'My Sweet Lord' was itself a hit later in the year.

A court eventually ruled he'd copied it subconsciously.

Kelly Clarkson vs Beyonce

In 2009 Kelly Clarkson put out a song, 'Already Gone', that some thought had already been released by Beyonce – and it was called 'Halo'.

Turns out both songs were co-written and produced by OneRepublic hack Ryan Tedder, whom it appears isn't averse to double-dipping in his royalty payments.

Lady Gaga vs Madonna

It's not in doubt Lady Gaga knows how to write a tune – witness 'Bad Romance' – so it's anyone's guess why she bothered stealing one of Madonna's and tried to pass it off as her own, with 'Born This Way' barely even a photocopy away from 'Express Yourself'.

Nor did she learn, doing it again on her latest album with 'Applause' borrowing from Madonna's 'Girl Gone Wild'.

Oasis vs the Rutles, Stevie Wonder and Coca Cola

Oasis were often accused of taking their worship of the Beatles a little too far, never more so than when genius thief Noel Gallagher took the chorus from Beatles parody group the Rutles' song 'How Sweet to be an Idiot' for their 1994 hit 'Whatever'.

Other famous examples include 'Shakermaker', from Definitely Maybe, borrowing from 'I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing' – a Coke jingle – and Stevie Wonder's 'Uptight' being reworked as 'Step Out'.

Avril Lavigne vs the Rubinoos

While it's a terrible idea to steal from something everyone already knows (see Lady Gaga above), some artists have a little more cunning and cherrypick from more obscure tracks, hoping they won't get called out.

Avril Lavigne might have gotten away with it too if it weren't for the fact she stole not just the hook, but most of the lyrics too.

John Fogerty vs John Fogerty

Some artists change and others stay the same, but Creedence Clearwater Revival singer John Fogerty is perhaps the only songwriter in the world who's stayed so true to his roots, he's been accused of plagiarising himself.

In the mid 1980s Fogerty was sued by a company which had acquired the rights to his song 'Run Through the Jungle', saying his new track 'The Old Man Down the Road' was simple 'Run Through the Jungle' with new words on top.

Fogerty took his guitar to court to prove how different the songs were, and won.

Led Zeppelin vs Everybody

Led Zeppelin 'borrowed' so many riffs, lyrics and in some cases, entire songs, it makes one wonder if they wrote a single tune of their own.

In some cases the songwriting credits for tracks like 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You' were altered to reflect reality, others have been left to siphon royalties into Page and Plant's bank accounts for more than four decades now.

They stole so much, it takes two YouTube clips to compile them all.

Ray Parker, Jr vs Huey Lewis and the News

If you need a song, and haven't written one, who you gonna call? Huey Lewis and the News apparently, who sued 'Ghostbusters' songwriter Ray Parker Jr for ripping off their hit 'I Want a New Drug'.

Lewis' case was strengthened by the fact he'd originally been asked to write the theme to the hit '80s film, but turned it down 'cause he was working on music for Back to the Future. In other words, Huey Lewis totally ruled the mid '80s.

Radiohead vs the Hollies


Radiohead are often compared to Pink Floyd and King Crimson, but the only band they've been officially caught stealing from the Hollies.

Obviously it wasn't the famous 'kerchunk' guitar they borrowed from the soft-rock legends, but the similarities between 'Creep' and 'The Air that I Breathe' mean royalties for the Radiohead hit are now split between them and the Hollies.

Pink Floyd vs Andrew Lloyd Webber

In a rare case of a member of Pink Floyd not going to court over something quite frivolous, songwriter Roger Waters declined to sue Andrew Lloyd Webber for using the chorus riff from the band's 23-minute epic 'Echoes' on his theatre hit 'The Phantom of the Opera'.

I couldn't believe it when I heard it," said Waters. "It's the sametime signature... and it's the same structure and it's the same notes and it's the same everything. Bastard... But I think that life's too long to bother with suing Andrew f**king Lloyd Webber."

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source: newshub archive