Unpopular opinion: Songs that sound similar aren’t stolen


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Just because two songs sound similar, doesn’t mean it was stolen.

By Angelina Padilla-Tompkins, Opinion Editor

“good 4 u” by rising musician Olivia Rodrigo, might get you thinking, “where have I heard this before?” Perhaps, it is “Misery Business” by early 2000s band Paramore. Since the release of “good 4 u,” Rodrigro has been facing backlash for their similarities, and has since given credit to Paramore for the creation of her song. 

Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, The Beach Boys, Carrie Underwood, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and The Weekend are all examples of artists who have been accused of stealing musical ideas from others. However, just because two songs sound similar, doesn’t mean it was stolen. 

What might sound similar to the untrained ear could actually be quite different once broken down. When comparing music, you need to not only think about how it sounds to you, but the notes, duration of notes, pitch, the type of instruments, expressive techniques (soft, harsh, etc.), structure and style. 

For example, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was often compared to “More Than a Feeling” by Boston. While they do have similar riffs, they are written in entirely different keys with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in F minor and Boston’s single in G major. 

Additionally, Ed Sheeran just faced a lawsuit in the UK over his song “Shape of You.” The lawsuit was due to similarities between Sheeran’s refrain “oh I, oh I, oh I” in the chorus and the similarities in the line “oh why, oh why, oh why,” in 2015’s “Oh Why” by Samu ChoKri. 

High Court Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled in favor of Sheeran stating that there was no copyright infringement “neither deliberately nor subconsciously,” in the popular single, reported NPR

When songs sound alike it is more often than not a coincidence. There are only 12 notes in music, and with that a handful of chord arrangements on your standard six-string guitar or piano. 

Music has been recorded for well over a hundred years, so overtime we are bound to see some similarities in different songs.