Friday, March 13, 2015

The Weekend Mix, 3/13/15

Our good friend Ken D suggested in an email to me that the ruling against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke over their smash hit "Blurred Lines" might be a good topic of discussion for Burning Wood. I don't disagree with Ken D. But I may be the only one who agrees with the verdict.

Andy Hermann wrote a terrific piece for L.A. Weekly, even if I don't agree with a lot of what he's saying. This particularly:

"By this logic, the Bob Marley estate can sue pretty much every reggae artist of the past 30 years. The Bo Diddley estate can sue George Michael for "Faith" and Bow Wow Wow for "I Want Candy." Phil Spector can sue The Raveonettes for their entire catalog."

Has anyone ever heard any song by The Raveonettes and unequivocally stated "Hey! That's 'Be My Baby!" Has anyone ever heard the first five seconds of "Blurred Lines" and NOT said "Hey! That's 'Got To Give It Up!"

I realize I am opening a can of worms here and I realize that I am oversimplifying, and actually ignoring facts and law. But what the hell? I created a Weekend Mix for you.


Christine Sixteen- Kiss
Little Johnny Jewel- Television
Don't Bother Me- Kami Thompson
Halloween (Bonfire Night)- Steve Nieve w/Ron Sexsmith
Overnight Lows- Peter Wolf
Between Us- Robert Palmer
Carlisle Wheeling- The Monkees
Rivers (Of The Hidden Funk)- Joe Walsh
Do You Want My Job- Little Village
Conscience Clean (I Went To Spain)- Pernice Bros.
How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart- Norah Jones
Anna Stesia- Prince
All The Nasties- Elton John
True- James Booker



Gene Oberto said...

In today's world, producers handle song making like a chef uses a recipe book. Add a little of this, add little of that, mix well and season to taste. Eureka! Their next hit song. Just use the Rhianna, Kanye and McCartney single. Add. Mix. Repeat and repeat and repeat...Plus they want to take writing credits! I guess they named it "FourFiveSeconds" because it took about that long to put the line down on paper.

I guess what I'm driving at is that infringement is tough to describe but I know it when I hear it. I'll let the courts and jury panels decide.

My thought is that it just shows the lack of talent in today's music. Voices are auto-tuned, melodies are copped and I'll be damned if anyone can name me one good lyricsmith in popular music today.

I know it sounds like "You kids get off my lawn" but I'd say that Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs, "Sugar Shack" sounds like an opus compared to "Where Are U Now."

William Repsher said...

LA Weekly article strikes me as mediocre and the stipulation that this is going to have a mushroom cloud effect on the music industry utter horseshit. If there are any lawsuits that spring up, they'll be based more so on the need for a new revenue stream in an industry financially crippled by free downloading. And I don't even think that's going to happen. The floodgates didn't burst open when George Harrison got sued for "My Sweet Lord." Nor when Biz Markie had to throw out his take of "Alone Again Naturally" when sued by Gilbert O'Sullivan. (And that suit had much heavier implications as rap thrived on unpaid samples at that point in history and had to straighten up and make financial amends.)

"Blurred Lines" was a clear rip-off of "Got to Give It Up" ... it's why I like the song. ("Kind of rapey"? What kind of overgrown child speaks or writes like this?) It borrowed a lot more than the beat -- I can hear the instrumentation, the vocals, the production ... I'm not sure why "musicologists" aren't considering all this and more than simple chord progressions.

It costs a lot of money to launch and fully see through a lawsuit and winning often doesn't imply anything but getting placed on a payment schedule that the losing party drags ass on for years in terms of paying off. I predict nothing's going to happen because of this ruling.

I also predict overgrown babies of the internet are going to keep making dire predictions and overblown assumptions based on nothing but the over-emphatic/self-serious culture they've been infected with and an even worse case of historical ignorance.

soundsource said...

your right case closed.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Apparently Robin is, rather than has, a big dick.

Ken D said...

What caught my eye, and why I e-mailed Sal about this topic was this piece from the NY Times:

It basically confirms what we were talking about a few weeks ago about the state of contemporary songwriting, or rather what has become a kind of song "constructing." And it points out how it can be problematic to make comparisons of these constructions.

And Mr. Repsher; well said.

cmealha said...

I think that it's a production issue. It sounds like "Got To Give It Up" but the melody and chord structure is different.
Is "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" a rip-off of "Be My Baby" or an hommage to the Phil Spector sound?

Sal Nunziato said...

"Is "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" a rip-off of "Be My Baby" or an hommage to the Phil Spector sound?"

Sing the melody to each. They sound nothing alike. I don't recall hearing the Billy Joel tune and thinking it was anything other than a Billy Joel tune with a Spector production.

"Blurred Lines" was an immediate "This is Got To Give It Up." I know I said that exact same thing in the post itself, but I think that's key.

Robin said...

I have NEVER heard any Raveonettes song and thought 'that's Be My Baby!' I've thought "ah, that's the Raveonettes! with hugs and kisses to all their influences." Similar to the Ramones, actually.

I love Pharrell, but "Blurred Lines", I thought "wow, that's Got to Give it Up and no where near the original (but what could be?)"...there are nods and then there are rips. There are also rips that seem knowing and respectful and celebratory (Beach Boys and Chuck Berry for example) and then there are ones that seem lazy and stale, like "Blurred Lines".

As much as LZ were somewhat unthoughtful thieves, I never once questioned the personal touches and talent they brought to what they snatched or the reverence.

Gene is right, it has become like a recipe book. Sometimes that can work really well, but does it encourage laziness on the artist's part? It's really about the producer today.

And @BBJ- yep! Don't even start me. So arrogant.

Now excuse me while I go listen to my Pogues and Dropkick Murphys, it's that season after all. ;)

Ken D said...

Another essay, this one from a legal rather than musical perspective:

A walk in the woods said...

You included "Anna Stesia" - AWESOME. I only have that on vinyl, so it will be great to hear this on iPod again.

Rest of the mix looks mighty fine too. Thanks, Sal.

Anonymous said...

The one thing strange about this whole situation is that Williams/Thicke brought it on themselves. As I understand it, they sued the Gaye family first to "prove they did not copy" and the Gaye family countersued. If Williams and Thicke had approached the family and sought clearance/royalty payment up-front this could have been avoided. Now, it's a weird outcome that could impede other artists from coming forward in the future. Someone got some bad legal advice I think.

Michael D.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sal

Won't get into the serious side of the postings regarding royalties but just want to say I love the Kami Thompson song a real gem.