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by Dan Weiss

May 20, 2014

Ripped Off Riffs

by Dan Weiss  |  May 20, 2014

It's not news that sometimes two artists write a great song using the same riff. In 1994, Bush and The Offspring had hits with "[Little Things]" and "Self-Esteem," respectively, which put the same chords in a different order and treated them like the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" sons they are. Sometimes a familiar riff gets cannibalized intentionally -- like when Coldplay sought permission from Kraftwerk to repurpose the "Computer Love" riff for guitar on "Talk," or when Wussy turned The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" into "Funeral Dress" -- and sometimes seemingly not (did Green Day know their "See the Light" chorus rips off "You Shook Me All Night Long" wholesale? Could Drive-By Truckers have not realized their "Sh*t Shots Count" is an update of The Sex Pistols' "Holidays in the Sun"?). It's a record nerd's paradise to notice the little similarities, too, like how the bridges of Sonic Youth's "Pacific Coast Highway" and Beck's "Novacane" reprise the same swirly riff, or how that dog.'s breakdown in "Never Say Never" was repurposed into a horn chart for Rilo Kiley's It's a Hit." It's also always fun to sing "Everyday People" over Liz Phair's "Never Said," or the ba-ba-bas from Against Me!'s "Thrash Unreal" over The Killers' "Spaceman." And you might crack up laughing if you start singing Aerosmith's "Eat the Rich" over the Fugazi instrumental "Brendan #1." Try it!

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