Often when I’m jamming to something new, a part will pop up that undeniably reminds me of something I’ve heard before. Some things are just too familiar, and damn it, it’s time to do something about it.

Step one is always identifying the original work the new exposure harkens back to. Once that’s settled, the debate begins. Is this a rip-off, or something else?

I’ve started mashing together pieces of audio that I can’t help but think are linked in some way. Of course, even if something does sound scarily like something already established, it doesn’t mean it’s a rip-off.

Take a listen to this track, and let me know which category you think this example falls into:

  1. This is a rip-off! Some bastard stole some other bastard’s jam!
  2. This is an homage. This is too similar. The artist is merely giving a wink and nod to a predecessor.
  3. This is a coincidence. Louis Daguerre and Henry Fox both invented photography independent of each other, after all. There are only so many ways to make music.
  4. This is an accident. Yeah, it’s probably inspired by the older piece, but they probably didn’t even realize it.
  5. You are smoking. Don’t even see it.

THE BEATLES – “If I fell” vs. PERSEFONE – “Living Waves”

Props to Scrodge for pointing this one out, as I hadn’t noticed it. But I agree with him, the melody is eerily similar to me. What do you think? Let me know in the comments. And you can be like Scrodge, too. If you have a potential rip-off you want me to explore, let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to subscribe!


  1. Sounds very close. Could be an homage, but pretty obscure as far as Beatles songs go. Thinking how you might arrive at that melody, it could very easily have been coincidence. The chord structure is very basic. The rhythm is very basic.

    Rip off is most applicable when you take something catchy and effective and sort of sneak it in. Could be eye-rollingly blunt like Lady Madonna ripped of by Sublime’s “What I Got” which coasts entirely on the fact that it’s a really catchy, feel-good melody that the Beatles wrote decades earlier. That song contributes so little else that I have to think they didn’t want me to notice. Another type of rip off is like taking a good groovy baseline or drum beat and just putting it in like it’s your idea. You can’t spend an entire track “paying homage” to something. That’s ripping off.


  2. The Scorpions’ The Sails of Charon and Megadeth’s Symphony of destruction

    Watch that Scorpions video. I do not think you’ll regret the experience.


  3. Sometimes I think the real distinction between a rip-off and an homage is based on whether you like the song or not. The Verve basically got sued out of existence for ripping off The Rolling Stones, but I like Bittersweet Symphony. Consider cover songs. By default you usually consider it an homage since they wouldn’t bother to cover a song they didn’t like. When Darius Rucker covers Wagon Wheel it feels like a rip-off because what the hell else has he done that’s worth while. Van Halen covers The Kinks or Jimi Hendrix covers Bob Dylan and I have no problem loving both.

    Here’s a poser for you: If you were a musician playing someone else’s song just for the fun of it and suddenly you came up with a great song idea based on it, would you scrap the idea just because you felt guilty for ripping off a band you like? Would you record it and give writing credit to the other band? Would you record it and claim it was original?


  4. This was very hard for me to hear at first, because the Beatles song is in C minor, and the Persefone song is in B minor. My brain converts sounds to color patterns that run alongside the audio sensation (audio-visual synesthesia), and B minor and C minor look extremely different in my mind.

    But when I identified the intervals and accounted for the tempo difference–yeah, I heard it. I was going to do 5 at first, but on third listen, I think it’s 3. Different enough that I wouldn’t call it an homage, but I would definitely not rule out some kind of inspiration.

    Great idea for a series, btw.


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