Monday, August 24, 2009


I don't usually write about music. The whole point of music is that it's different from writing. Like a joke, the moment you start explaining it the thing doesn't work. And yet...

Some songs are very like other songs. Famously, the Hammond organ bit of Procul Harum's “A Whiter Shader of Pale” was inspired by J.S. Bach (see this archived page for much learned discussion on what and to what extent).

“La Bamba” by Richie Valens is pretty much the same tune as “Twist and Shout”, while there's more than a little of “My Way” in Bowie's “Life on Mars” – as this superb version shows. (See The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain website for more splendiditude.)

I also keep hearing TV themes in pop tunes. The NME has spotted that Muse's “Uprising” is a lot like Doctor Who. But S Club 7's “Reach for the Sky” is the theme tune to Duck Tales and Alexander O'Neal's “Criticize” is the theme tune to Duckula.

And then there are the lyrics. Ronan Keating's “When You Say Nothing At All” has the same message for the ladies as Joe Dolce's “Shaddap You Face”.

Any more?


Rob Stradling said...

Bloody loads.

Transvision Vamp's "Baby I Don't Care" is a re-hash of The Troggs' "Wild Thing".

Billy Joel's "This Night" uses a Beethoven nocturne.

Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier" is the theme to "The Banana Splits".

Wax's "American English" uses the meter of Boney M's "Rasputin".

Mary-Chapin Carpenter's "Shut Up And Kiss Me" can be segued in and out of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London".

The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me" became Dire Straits' "I Want My MTV", and the baseline from "Every Breath You Take" was used by Def Leppard for "Animal".

tedmile (n.) - unit of distance, equivalent to 321 Dusty Bins laid end to end.

Skip said...

Oh I am so glad it's not just me and that Muse song.

It's like the way that "Chain Reaction" sounds exactly like the Jim'll Fix It theme.

And then there's a early 2000s diva ballad that sounds just like Barbie Girl slowed down... but I can't remember it.

gervase_fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gervase_fen said...

Franz Ferdinand's "The Fallen" v. the theme to BBC1's hospital soap "Angels"

The theme to Blake's 7 vs. the middle bit with the brass halfway through John Miles' "Music"

Anonymous said...

I like singing House of the Rising Sun to the tune of O Little Town of Bethlehem.

I've also noticed startling thematic similarities between the Conchords's "Sugar Lumps" song and George Formby's "Little Stick of Blackpool Rock".

Jonny Morris said...

Oh, there are loads.

This points out several:

This is one of my favourite things:

And this is a song that Pulp chose not to release - I wonder why...

I shall think of some more.

Jonny Morris said...

Another one, though it might just be me.

The Adagio from Spartacus by Katchachurian aka that bit of music played through The Hudsucker Proxy.

And the verses of Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You my Franki Valli and the Four Seasons.

Leo said...

Firstly - nice photo, Simon!

Secondly, Peter Hooton was famously and obviously "heavily influenced" by Pachelbel's "Canon" when writing The Farm's "Altogether Now".

So, according to this amusing, ranting guy on You Tube, was pretty much everyone else in the history of music...

Matthew Cochrane said...

Current Mika single "We Are Golden" is at least 70% "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle.

Jonny Morris said...

And the remaining 30 percent is 'Beds Are Burning' by Midnight Oil.

0tralala said...

Ha ha! I love this thread. More!

Jonny Morris said...

Okay, but no Oasis or Coldplay or we'll be here forever.

Hot Chocolate's Could've Been A Lady and Jackson 5's Blame It On The Boogie.

The Juliet Bravo theme and I Will Survive (also the Pet Shop Boys' It's a Sin etc.)

Le Mc said...

I always hear the DW theme tune in part of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" but no one seems to agree. It's more apparent to me in the BNL cover.

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