Monday, August 31, 2009

Not you too!

Song theft. It's not just for Coldplay anymore.

The evidence?

My fellow late-80s Nintendo Entertainment System enthusiasts may remember a 1987 Capcom game called Mega Man (known as "Rockman" or "Rokkuman" in Japan) in which the protagonist, Mega Man, a less cuddly equivalent to Mario or Luigi, must play his way through six levels, each named after its respective Robot Master whom Mega Man must defeat.

Each Robot Master's name correlates to his theme: Mega Man must dodge the knives of Cut Man and the grenades of Bomb Man, avoid getting burned by Fire Man or frozen by Ice Man, and, presumably, maintain a healthy level of digestive acid against Guts Man.

Enough background. Now let's start an international scandal.

Each Robot Master has his own theme music. For example, here's what you hear when you're playing against Elec Man:




Compare that to the work of noted rock group U2, who recently visited Letterman to play "their" "new" song I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight:




I was alerted to this interesting coincidence by longtime FOBB&B and old Nintendo buddy Jason Horowitz. Unlike Jason I'm not a Harvard-trained piano virtuoso, music composer and mathematics PhD with deep insights into music theory.

I do, however, have ears, and the two songs sound pretty similar to me. By "pretty" I mean "completely." By "similar" I mean "identical."

Bono, any thoughts?

6 comments:

Paul Jennings said...

Yes, the opening chord progression is similar, though for U2 it is more of an intro. The basic lick has been around for eons, at least 100 years, in many styles. The two tunes diverge a lot after that, melodically and harmonically. But I'm not a copyright attorney - I just play one on TV.

Ben said...

It's nowhere close to, e.g., Coldplay and Satriani. But there's all this white space on my blog and something's got to fill it.

Kazanorama said...

Why is it sampling when Kanye does it and theft when it's U2?!

The Needle Shop said...

There is no new art. All we can do is hope the most similar pieces are at least 50 years old.

dreegle g said...

Paul-- not to be picky here on someone else's blog, but:

1) It's not the chord progression that's similar; it's the melody: the intervals between the notes, the rhythm, etc. (Even the character of the actual instrumentation used for the two melodies sounds similar to me.)

2) I don't think that this intro melody is a "basic lick" you find everywhere. I could be wrong though. If so, present three examples. :)

Tony said...

and U2 practically destroyed negativeland after a similar incident