The highest form of flattery

(Originally posted December 17, 2008)

I finally finished with exams Friday afternoon. Then I felt like hell afterward for most of the weekend. Late last night, though, I eventually returned to Franktown. Now that those silly tests are over, I can get back to more important things, like providing analysis you won’t find anywhere else.

Based on experience, I know that someone will probably criticize me soon for putting the song “Love Story” on my profile. Therefore, I have decided to pre-empt such criticism. More specifically, I have reposted this very manly picture to compensate for the song.

 
Speaking of songs, though, various haters have lately attacked the band Coldplay for supposed plagiarism. The most recent allegations involve Coldplay’s hit song “Viva la Vida.” One of the whiny “artists” criticized Coldplay on YouTube:

 

Now, let’s analyze the various legal principles behind this allegation. First, you will notice that the guy looks like a douchebag. This is an important point. Specifically, take note of his pink-and-purple shirt (1:17) and his dumb-looking mustache. Second, you will observe that his pattern of notes differs significantly from Coldplay’s song. Finally, realize that Coldplay actually released their song first! (Upon hearing this revelation, the whiny artist apparently changed his tune, suggesting that both songs were inspired by Zelda.)

Unfortunately, a couple months later, guitarist Joe Satriani filed a plagiarism lawsuit attacking the same song. Supposedly, Coldplay “stole” the chorus to “Viva la Vida” from his “riff” (whatever that is) found in his song “If I Could Fly.” Satriani does have a point, of course:  Part of his boring, six-minute, guitar-solo snooze-fest does actually sound similar to Coldplay’s verse.

Joe “The Jackass” Satriani

Of course, we could also note a few things about this “musician” right off the bat. First, he has no hair. Second, he is wearing goggles…inside. Third — Well, this video sums up the case fairly well:

But overall, I think Satriani’s lawyer could argue something along these lines in his closing argument at trial:

“Members of the jury, you have witnessed something absolutely amazing in this case:  The talented and brilliant guitarist, Mr. Satriani, actually invented the VI-VII-(III)-i chord progression — before Coldplay stole it from him. And not only did Mr. Satriani practically invent the minor scale, but he also wears these sleek-looking goggles indoors, along with his mega-cool hairstyle. Mr. Satriani’s case certainly has nothing to do with envy about Coldplay’s success — or anything ridiculous like that….

Seriously, he can go ahead and use that argument. I won’t sue.
Certainly, I’ll be the first to admit that Coldplay’s melodies aren’t terribly original. But no pop music is original. This reality holds partly true for all music, including rock and classical — but especially so for pop. Pop is the most simplistic of music. Its simplicity is why people find it catchy — and why annoying music snobs turn up their noses at it.

Rather than melodies, Coldplay’s strengths lie in their lyrics, instruments/synthetics, vocals, and overall tone. The same is true for most successful musicians.

But anyway, these ridiculous plagiarism lawsuits need to stop. Whiny plaintiffs have started to mimic the tyrannical Pharisees I used to sit with on the Honor Council at Rhodes. “Waaah, he stole my thoughts!” We used to consider imitation the highest form of flattery. For some reason, though, we have now declared it the highest form of insult.

Write to better yourself. Write to better the world, write to make pretty music, and maybe get some money in the process. But if you write with such arrogance that you pretend anything you write is terribly original, you usually just make yourself look like a jackass.

So if this jackass Satriani wins his lawsuit over the basic VI-VII-III-i natural minor progression, we should all go down to the copyright office the very next day. We should copyright as many essential music elements as we can. I get dibs on Middle C!

———————————

Comments:

Jim posted,
“Gotta wonder if tone-deaf judges would need to recuse themselves in such cases, or would it take a musically gifted lawyer to make them aware they needed to do so. Without insulting them, of course. No small trick. Thanks for another great one,
JB”
(12-17-2008, 11:43 am)

Julianna posted,
“I think Taylor Swift is pretty amazing, and expect that as time goes by her stock will continue to rise. She’s just 18, but her songs (which she writes herself) span the generations already. It’s an interesting fact that the majority of guys don’t have too many cd’s of girl musicians but girls, we usually have a pretty even mix of both male and female performers. I definitely don’t think you should take any shit about being able to appreciate a song written by a girl. . .and whoever gives you that shit. . . is probably just a more insecure person than you and they cannot open themselves up to listening to music by girls even if they like it b/c they are afraid of being considered less manly. Isn’t she from Nashville, too? You should try to track her down while your in Franklin. Just go to a lot of nice restauarants, you might run into her. A friend of mine ran into Pam Anderson and Kid Rock at PF Changs in Franklin back when those two were together. Sheryl Crowe lives in Franklin, too. I think Taylor lives in Hendersonville, but I could be wrong.”
(12-17-2008, 1:07 pm)

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