I’m no-one really to be sharing my thoughts about this topic, but I love talking about it, I touched upon the topic this year at university and I definitely just came straight here after watching Mark Ronson’s TED talk about sampling and shit, those are my credentials, my reasons – if you will. So bear with me.
So what brought this to my attention?
The whole thing with Radiohead and Lana Del Ray. Now I know Creep, the song that was…contesting…if you will, one of Lana Del Ray’s song, Get Free, which I have never heard in my life. Until now. Since it’s been on the Internet, on social media and down here in Australia, on my favourite news show, The Project. Here’s the comparison.
Now from the basic research that I did, that should definitely be taken with a grain of salt, apparently, maybe, Radiohead is trying to sue Lana, she’s offered 40% of the song, but they’ve denied it, leading most people to believe they basically want her to relinquish most of her rights to the song.
There is definitely a bunch of similarities. The vocal tune is definitely similar and the chords are of course, the same. So there’s a lot of questions to be asked when you look at this. How aware was Lana Del Ray? Of course, she’s not gonna admit anything if she was blasting Creep as an adolescent, as many teens probably were, and still are. Why is Radiohead coming for her like they invented one of the most basic and most used chord progressions to exist? Also, how much of the song is linked back to Radiohead, and of the song, what percentage is 100% original, compared to the verse or pre-chorus or whatever, that they are claiming is a rip off? I don’t like legal stuff so that’s all I’m gonna say on that.
However. I’ve had the constant fear of literal lawyers, showing up at my house for the past couple of months, and this is one of the only times that I’m hella grateful for how unimportant and insignificant I really am to the world. And it’s all thanks to one man.
Sam Smith. I never knew I would end up at the mercy of this honest to god, queen, but here I am. And I’m completely innocent.
So you may or may not be aware of Sam Smith’s latest album, his come back, if you will, The Thrill Of It All. On that album, which he released in 2017, there is one song that really stuck out to me when I first listened to the entire record. And when I say ‘stuck out’, I mean it struck fear into my heart and made the blood running through my veins literally turn cold.
Now you’re actually gonna have to give this song a listen, to understand the whole point of my rant. The song is called One Last Song. I don’t know if I pissed someone off upstairs, but Sam also decided to release this song as a single on the radio, which made me even more scared. Why? Because the ending of Sam Smith’s chorus and my chorus in a released song, 100 And You, are the literal, identical, carbon copy, same thing. Okay. So that’s a stretch. But I picked it up, my sister picked it up, my mum picked it up and sent me a text. Like. I don’t have the budget for a lawyer, never mind the fact that I released my album in 2016, and am 100% completely innocent. So in the meantime, I’ll just sit around and wait for my court date.
ANYWAY. Exaggeration and melodrama aside.
Another instance I want to bring up, is one that I absolutely love talking about.
Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled, and Maria Maria by Santana and The Product G&B. I didn’t manage to find a comparison that I could embed, but I have linked the two songs so you can have a listen on Spotify.
There is no question in this instance, that Wild Thoughts has 100% taken the guitar line from Maria Maria. However, Carlos Santana co-signed the song. Meaning, the sampling was signed off on before it was released, specifically because it does run for a majority of the song, and it is such an iconic guitar riff. I know it’s a little long, but to get a really good, in depth run down on sampling, have a listen to Mark Ronson, who’s given one of the best explanation of sampling, why it works, why it’s allowed, and why it isn’t necessarily wrong, to rip from other songs and embed them into your own.
I’m all about putting yourself into a piece of music or work that resonates with you. I put up a song on my SoundCloud, where I sampled a sermon from an American pastor, specifically because I heard that sermon, felt like it fit perfectly with the song, and wanted the reference in there.
One of my favourite websites is called Who Sampled, and it literally tells you all the songs that another song has sampled in their mix. I think I spent an hour or so just reading through, and seeing that some of my favourite songs, had pulled from other iconic songs before them. Some are obvious, and others not so much. For example, The Notorious B.I.G sampled Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out in his song Mo Money Mo Problems. Yet he still puts his own twist on it, like Ronson mentions in his TED talk. My boys One Direction, sampled Journey’s song Faithfully, in their single Steal My Girl. Blood On The Leaves by Kanye, blatantly sampled Nina Simone’s song Strange Fruit and Drake samples J Lo in Teenage Fever, throwing it back to If You Had My Love. Get Up Offa That Thing by James Brown, an iconic song, is sampled in XXX by Kendrick Lamar and bet you didn’t know that TLC’s No Scrubs, is sampled in Shape Of You, by old mate Ed Sheeran.
So with all of that dumped on you, it’s easy to see that sampling is not a new thing, by any means. What is worth bringing up in conversation, is where do we draw the line between sampling, paying homage, and blatantly ripping off and copying?
Hopefully you guys liked this post, a little different to what I usually have, but I had a lot of fun writing it. Let me know what you think!