CatrianiPlay: The Most Used Melody in Pop Music

January 30th, 2012 by

I now dub this “CatrianiPlay: The Most Used Melody in Pop Music“. Aside from “Pachelbel’s Canon” which is commonly referenced as one of the most re-used progressions in modern music the following songs all resemble a similar melodic structure. They are not necessarily note-for-note duplicates but they sound alike.

In my first post for this soundalike we saw Reuters reporting that Joe Satriani filed a copyright infringement suit against Coldplay claiming that the, “song ‘Viva La Vida’ incorporated ‘substantial original portions’ of his 2004 instrumental ‘If I Could Fly.’” Then just a few months later Cat Stevens publicly stated that “Viva La Vida” has some similarities to his epic 1973 track “Foreigner Suite” stating , ” [Viva La Vida] definitely sounds like it…It has such logical chords and the melody has to be what it is…” In addition Creaky Boards, a local Brooklyn band posted a clip on YouTube of their ironically titled track “The Songs I Didn’t Write” pointing out the similarities of “Viva La Vida” (apparently released long after Creaky Boards had been performing their song live).

Just when I thought I had all of the examples of this melody in modern pop music I was thrown two more by Paradojan followed by one more from Travis (who has recently submitted a whole slew of great songs). We can now add Mireille Mathieu & Patrick Duffy‘s “Together We’re Strong” (1983),  Reamonn‘s “Tonight” (2006) AND Enanitos Verdes - “Frances Limon” (2004) (2002).

And now, in chronological order:

Cat Stevens - "Foreigner Suite" (1973)
Mireille Mathieu & Patrick Duffy - "Together We're Strong" (1983)
Survivor - "I Can't Hold Back" (1984)
Enanitos Verdes - "Frances Limon" (2002)
Joe Satriani - "If I Could Fly" (2004)
Reamonn - "Tonight" (2006)
Coldplay - "Viva la Vida" (2008)
Creaky Boards - "The Songs I Didn't Write" (2008)

I made a video too:

Corrections in video
“Frances Limon” was released in 2002, not 2004.
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amores_lejanos

“Raemonn” is actually spelled “Reamonn

UPDATE 5/31/2012: I made a post on buzzfeed that illustrates 12 Songs

UPDATE 9/3/2013: Check out this Polish video of this. 

Some Ads here...Conversation about this post below..

75 Responses to “CatrianiPlay: The Most Used Melody in Pop Music”

  1. avatar Travis says:

    its bad when coldplay is rip offed

    coldplay:square one

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6upHmbVIF0

    ashlee simpson:eyes wide open

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gye7wRqvX84

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    Also New York sounds like The Scientist in the lines “Concrete jungle where dreams are made” and the verse of Demons by Imagine Dragons also sounds like The Scientist. Hey Jacinta by Thirsty Merc (2007) sounds like a different part of The Scientist in the line “Hey Jacinta, don’t you want to spend the ni-i-ight”.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And Brick by Brick by Train (2009). Speaking of Train, I also think You Already Know (2009) sounds like I’m Yours and Hey, Soul Sister (2009) sounds kind of like All Star by Smashmouth, and probably like other songs.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And Denmark’s entry in this year’s Eurovision contest, Cliché Love Song, sounds like the verse of Drops of Jupiter (2001), Drift Away by Dobie Gray (1973) and You to Me Are Everything by Real Thing (1976).

  2. avatar berg says:

    both great bands

    cafe tacvba . metamorfosis : 1996
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQznZ8231tI

    radiohead . there there : 2003
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AQSLozK7aA&ob=av2e

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  3. avatar Lalu says:

    And this one (which is in Romanian) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaUwrIyKiNk . Awesome post, I must say!

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    Keith Reply:

    Great contribution! Thanks!

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  4. avatar LeoZ says:

    I came here to see what the song “Razzamataz” by Pulp sounds like. Well, it sounds like this. The song came out in 1993 so that’s another one for the list.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=NZQJeY2bVws

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    Keith Reply:

    Nice! Chord progression is very similar.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    It reminds me of (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight and Viva La Vida, but it also reminds me of the verse of A-ha’s biggest hit, Take On Me (1985).

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  5. avatar Jean R says:

    Don’t forget those : http://www.thatsongsoundslike.com/2011/08/06/britney-spears-vs-jermaine-jackson-vs-cutting-crew-vs-survivor/
    (Britney Spears, Jermaine Jackson, Cutting Crew)

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    Keith Reply:

    Oh boy. How did I leave those out???!

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  6. avatar Valerie says:

    I actually think the Coldplay song sounds the least like the others.

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  7. avatar Clay St. Thomas says:

    As I was listening to your mashup, it occured that Marty Balin’s hit “Hearts” definitely shares the same main melody. Check it out: http://youtu.be/kSZITC4tEes

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    Keith Reply:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this!

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    Moses Reply:

    Man, I’ve had this song in my head for days and have been trying to find it. Turns out it was in the comments all along. Thanks!

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  8. avatar Marko says:

    Mika’s “Blame It on the Girls” has a very similar melody in the chorus.

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    Keith Reply:

    Yes! I remember hearing this and totally forgot about it. Thanks!

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  9. avatar Travis says:

    lol…try this mika comparison

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdrMJn4jtPM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFPajU-d-Ek

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    Keith Reply:

    Wow. I didn’t even have to the Carlisle track to hear this.

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    Travis Reply:

    oops i forgot 1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhjd__NtHo4

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    I noticed that one of the recommended Mika songs on Youtube from your link; Relax, Take it Easy; has a chorus not unlike (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight by Cutting Crew or You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC.

  10. avatar LeoZ says:

    Heh, found another one. From 1976:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv8opL8e0zk

    Or maybe I’m just hearing it weirdly?

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    Keith Reply:

    Hm. I’m not hearing it right away but there is a small similarity.

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  11. avatar Mike says:

    “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie (1984) also feels similar.

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  12. avatar Dagny says:

    A-Ha’s followup to their only hit, start listening at 1:28

    http://youtu.be/a3ir9HC9vYg

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    Keith Reply:

    It’s slightly there but not as close as the ones here.

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  13. avatar Travis says:

    here’s one

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=240S04eCCC0

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    Keith Reply:

    Nice! Yeah, I got about 7 or 8 more from comments on the buzzfeed article :) Might need to do one more final update on this.

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  14. avatar AR says:

    Another CatrianiPlay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5HOS-DbK6E

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    Keith Reply:

    Thanks!A few people have sent me Alexia – “The summer is crazy” as well. I’ll have to make a final follow up with this and the others people have sent in!

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  15. avatar jonathan says:

    it s in the phantom of the opera. angel of music
    http://youtu.be/jsI0xg3Ky8o

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  16. avatar Peter Lynn says:

    The third song I remember being mentioned around the time of the Coldplay/Satriani controversy was Alizée’s “J’en ai marre!” from 2003, the video of which is well worth watching for completely separate reasons:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfSYeXPQaQI

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    Keith Reply:

    Thanks Peter! A few folks mentioned this on the Buzzfeed post. I’ll definitely be doing an update soon enough.

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  17. avatar rudi says:

    another one.. especially on the chorus

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw9wE1nutc4

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    Keith Reply:

    Thanks! I can’t see this link in the US though. What is the artist and track name?

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  18. avatar Lalu says:

    rudi is referring to Lily Allen – Littlest Things. How could have I missed it :) ). It was so obvious…

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    Keith Reply:

    Great!

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  19. avatar liteNOTSObrite says:

    Britney Spears Hold it Against Me chorus has the same melody

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    Keith Reply:

    Ah, yes. I covered that one over here: http://www.thatsongsoundslike.com/2011/08/06/britney-spears-vs-jermaine-jackson-vs-cutting-crew-vs-survivor

    I’ll have to do an update on this. There are about 4 or 5 others that people have pointed out as well.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    Shattered Glass off of her album Circus is closer, down to the instrumentals sounding a little like When the Rain Begins to Fall.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    Yet, the melody still sounds more like Left Outside Alone by Anastacia.

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  20. avatar Arthur Delgado says:

    I noticed that in yours channel there’s a video about Dolly Parton stealing the “Starway to Heaven main riff” (and House of the Rising Sun.. xD )

    But… You guys know Led Zeppelin “borrowed” that riff from Spirit’s ‘Taurus’, right?

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    Keith Reply:

    I’ve come across that one a few times in various Zeppelin articles. I suppose I got a little lazy with posting that one.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    Part of Ramble Tamble by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970) also sounds like Stairway to Heaven, which I probably should say the other way around. It’s probably just an arpeggiated sequence, though.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-zM6PE42Tw#t=1m55s

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    Keith Reply:

    Not quite similar enough. But that’s a pretty cool part. I don’t think I’ve heard this CCR track before.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    While I’m on the subject, Lookin’ Out My Back Door (1970) sounds like Hello Mary Lou, written by Gene Pitney and first performed by Johnny Duncan (1960), covered by Creedence in 1972.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3lBILDDF3I#t=24s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aae_RHRptRg

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And the riff from Keep On Chooglin’ (1969) sounds like Smokestack Lightning by Howlin’ Wolf (1952?), sampled in the cover of Susie Q (1968), also Call it Pretending (1968) sounds like a combination of I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) by the Four Tops and It’s the Same Old Song, but it’s meant to have the sound of a Motown song.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And how about the Johnny Cash version of Hurt (2002), which is a Nine Inch Nails song?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmVAWKfJ4Go

  21. avatar Moses says:

    A good explanation for these particular similarities is a common musical phenomenon called sequencing. Basically, a melodic phrase is repeated on a different note to match the changing chords. The old jazz standard Autumn Leaves is a good example of this (although the melody here doesn’t recall Catrianiplay).

    http://youtu.be/sgn7VfXH2GY

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    Keith Reply:

    Thanks for the example Moses!

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  22. avatar Jordan says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyly3JtXoy4 sounds like another one.

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    Keith Reply:

    Thanks! That link seems to be blocked in the U.S.Here’s another
    Ace of Base – “Beautiful Life” (1995)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9hdMSr6Duc

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    Haasey Reply:

    Noticed that when I first heard When The Rain Begins To Fall.

    Maybe this list will go from 12 to about 20.

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  23. avatar Katti says:

    This one as well… Petra Marklund (a.k.a September)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4fB9EXpMTI

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    Keith Reply:

    Woah! Good find!
    I might have to give this one its own post. Thanks!
    Petra Marklund – Händerna mot himlen (2012)

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    Katti Reply:

    Allegedly an original composition by Joakim “Jocke” Berg, the singer and mastermind behind Sweden’s most successful rock band ever; Kent. And yet no one has even suggested that this song is a total rip-off. :O

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  24. avatar Mark Adams says:

    I heard another one today, I think it’s called Freedom (I’m sorry, there are a few songs with that name).

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    Keith Reply:

    Awesome! If you figure out the artist lemme know. I plan on making another updated post at some point.

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  25. avatar Mark Adams says:

    It may be the Akon song. I also heard a kind of dance/techno song which I think is called music of your life.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    Sorry, the electronic song is Give Life Back to Music by Daft Punk (2013) and the other song isn’t the Akon song, but his does kind of sound like Photograph by Nickelback.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBV-kg70P8Y
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRICIV-juts#t=40s

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  26. avatar thesiu says:

    Check out these songs:

    U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgyVvoODWGA

    Jula – Za kazdym razem
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxo4D3K4988

    Jula is polish artist and she poorly became famous thanks to that song :/

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    Keith Reply:

    Wow, great find. I’ll be sure to post.

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  27. avatar Cream says:

    Britney Spears’ Till The World Ends has a portion similar to these songs!!!

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    Katti Reply:

    Like where?

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  28. avatar Katyoshka says:

    There’s this French song where the beginning sounds just like parts of Foreigner Suite : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXUEszokHU8

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  29. avatar Mark Adams says:

    The melody can also be found in the recorder line of A Strange Way to Save the World.

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  30. avatar Mark Adams says:

    You can also add I’m Glad by J-Lo.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And You’re My Yoko off of Ziggy Marley’s new album.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpaZ1Dbb8uI

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  31. avatar Mark Adams says:

    This may be the most used melody in pop music, but rock ‘n’ roll has its own much used melody, or similar melodies anyway. There may be a few repeated notes, but compare Good Golly Miss Molly (1956), written by John Marascalco and Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell and performed originally by Little Richard, then others, including Creedence (1968); Jailhouse Rock (1957), written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and performed by Elvis; Shake a Tail Feather (1963), written by Otha Hayes, Verlie Rice and Andre Williams and originally performed by The Five Du-Tones and Travelling Band by CCR (1970), which caused legal problems for John Fogerty due to the similarity to Good Golly Miss Molly, until Fantasy Records bought the rights. I don’t think it was intentional, after all, you wouldn’t rip off a song you performed a cover of, that would be too obvious to listeners.
    http://www.last.fm/music/Little+Richard/_/Good+Golly+Miss+Molly#t=34s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzV_0l5ILI#t=24s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaKVs5mJ4Bg&feature=kp#t=07s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a97FMPrvA-g#t=06s

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    You can also add Old Time Rock and Roll (1978), written by George Jackson and recorded by Bob Seger before famously appearing in Risky Business, and Blame it On the Love of Rock & Roll by Bon Jovi (1992), which also reminds me of Simply Irresistible by Robert Palmer (1988) and the riff reminds me of Black or White by Michael Jackson (1991). I could suggest Ace of Spades by Motorhead (1980), but that’s all on one note. I guess one of the simplest ways to reference older music is by using a similar melody.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqmz2JkUK4Y

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    It also appears in Country music, just have a listen to Get Rhythm by Johnny Cash (1956).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBMhsH8xlMs#t=21s

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  32. avatar E J says:

    These?
    Hearts by Marty Balin (Jefferson Starship)
    http://youtu.be/O0xufWPxX3I
    Honesty by Billy Joel
    http://youtu.be/SuFScoO4tb0

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  33. avatar Bronze Wolf says:

    Also the verse of “Wild world” by Cat Stevens… He ripped himself off…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHXpnZi9Hzs&feature=kp

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