CatrianiPlay: The Most Used Melody in Pop Music

catrianiplay

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. 

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128 Replies to “CatrianiPlay: The Most Used Melody in Pop Music”

    1. Mark Adams

      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”.

      Reply
      1. Mark Adams

        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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        1. Mark Adams

          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).

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        2. Mark Adams

          And Save Me, San Francisco (2009) sounds like (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson (1963).

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        3. Mark Adams

          And Tattoo, written by Amanda Ghost, Ian Dench and Norwegian production team Stargate and performed by Jordin Sparks, also sounds like Drops of Jupiter and the rest.

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        4. Mark Adams

          This may be a stretch, but Last of the American Girls by Green Day (2009) sounds kind of like All American Girl by Train (2003). Of course these are both bands based in San Francisco, in fact they are both Alternative bands based in San Fran who released their debut albums in the ’90s (obviously many did, or at least the followers, rather than the leaders, did) and released a classic album in more of a pop direction in 2009 (that is neglecting the fact that Green Day’s Warning and American Idiot were also in more of a pop direction than their early albums).

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        5. Mark Adams

          And the clear influence for This’ll Be My Year (2012) is We Didn’t Start the Fire (1989?).

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        6. Mark Adams

          There is something else Green Day and Train have in common: being based in San Fran seems to give people a similar sense of humour.

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        7. Mark Adams

          F*** You, or Forget You, as the clean version is called, written by Bruno Mars and performed by Cee Lo Green also sounds like (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. Maybe that’s why the song is perfect for a soul singer like Cee Lo Green.

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        8. Mark Adams

          And a riff from Save Me, San Francisco sounds like that of It Came Out of the Sky by Creedence (1969). Considering what Save Me, San Francisco is about, it makes sense to through in a reference to another San Francisco Bay band, but It Came Out of the Sky wasn’t one of Creedence’s biggest hits and I think Train may have been trying to reference a standard Creedence riff. For example, there is a similar riff in the guitar solo from Proud Mary (1969). There is even a similar riff in the intro to John Fogerty’s rare solo single Coming Down the Road (1973), which has a melody which bridges the gap between Up Around the Bend (1970) and Rockin’ All Over the World (1975), the latter of which, come to think of it, has a similar riff.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zftcZYdOl3Y#t=45s

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      2. Mark Adams

        Part of Who’s That Girl by Guy Sebastian (2010) sounds like Homeward Bound (1966), followed by a part which sounds like The Scientist (2002). And Part of Blow Me (One Last Kiss) by P!nk, off of The Truth About Love in Sep 2012 (but the single pre-empted the album by more than two months) sounds like Mermaid by Train (Apr 2012), but someone stated, I think in a comment for that Buzzfeed article, that it also sounds like Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand (2003). P!nk’s song peaked at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart, #1 on the Adult Top 40, Hot Dance Club Songs and US Mainstream Top 40 and debuted at #1 on the ARIA singles chart. It was also certified double platinum in the US and triple platinum in Australia, according to Wikipedia, but with many references.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jNlIGDRkvQ#t=25s

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=los6obvBbqU

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        1. Mark Adams

          And Battle by Colbie Caillat (2007) also sounds like part of The Scientist, but I realise it also sounds like Bubbly.

          Reply
  1. LeoZ

    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.

    Reply
    1. Mark Adams

      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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      1. Mark Adams

        The pre-chorus of Bad Romance by Lady Gaga, the part that goes Oh-o-o-o call it bad romance, sounds like Hello by Lionel Ritchie (1984) and Take On Me by A-Ha (1985) etc. Maybe you could count Feel this Moment by Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera as well. This isn’t the Catrianiplay melody though, there are just so many songs to bridge the gap that we start thinking of them all as having the same melody. The CatrianiPlay melody is roughly 112334212 22123171 in scale degree numbers, while Hello (1984), Take On Me, etc use 2344432 1233321. Are they still stolen from the previous songs, though, I’m not sure because we’ve found similar songs from all over the world, some from countries where the songwriters may not have heard the earlier songs, but maybe they did.

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    1. Moses

      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!

      Reply
        1. Mark Adams

          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.

          Reply
    1. Keith Post author

      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.

      Reply
    1. Keith Post author

      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!

      Reply
  2. Peter Lynn

    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:

    Reply
    1. Keith Post author

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

      Reply
  3. Lalu

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

    Reply
    1. Mark Adams

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

      Reply
  4. Arthur Delgado

    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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      1. Mark Adams

        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.

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        1. Mark Adams

          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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        2. Mark Adams

          Speaking of Barnesy, Forgiveness (2007) sounds kind of like I Can See Clearly Now and something else which I haven’t worked out yet.

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        3. Mark Adams

          The melody of Ramble Tamble is kind of like My Baby Left Me by Arthur ‘Big boy’ Crudup, which they covered on the same album.

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        4. Mark Adams

          Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees (1967) also sounds like My Baby Left Me (1950), and I guess That’s All Right (1946), because the last two were written by the same person.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUUSdvwEC_Y
          Be sure to check my comments on Bon Jovi vs The Beatles, Pitbull vs Aerosmith, Nick & Simon vs Green Day and Jawbreaker vs Green Day.

          Reply
  5. Moses

    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

    Reply
    1. Keith Post author

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

      Reply
      1. Katti

        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

        Reply
  6. Mark Adams

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

    Reply
  7. Mark Adams

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

    Reply
  8. thesiu

    Check out these songs:

    U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

    Jula – Za kazdym razem

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

    Reply
    1. Mark Adams

      Speaking of U2, When Love Comes to Town (1988), recorded with BB King sounds like Close to You, written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters, before being covered by Stevie Ray Vaughn (no, it’s not the Carpenters’ song).

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        1. Mark Adams

          The bridge of Victoria is the part Vertigo sounds like and sorry, I’ve attached the date for Victoria to Vertigo.

          Reply
      1. Mark Adams

        And Staring at the Sun (1997) sounds like Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks (1966), I Was Made for Loving You by Kiss (1979) and Call Me by Blondie (1980) and Feel Good Inc. by The Gorillas (2005) also sounds like these.

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  9. Mark Adams

    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=XaKVs5mJ4Bg&feature=kp#t=07s

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    1. Mark Adams

      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.

      Reply
      1. Mark Adams

        And Keep a Knocking, possibly written by Percy Bradford (c1928) and performed by many artists. Here is the Little Richard version.

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        1. Mark Adams

          And Sea Cruise, written by Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and recorded by Frankie Ford (1959), covered by John Fogerty in 1975. The following year he recorded the unreleased Hoodoo Man, which has a similar melody.

          Reply
    2. Mark Adams

      For another Elvis similarity, Return to Sender (1962) sounds kind of like Teenager in Love (1959), written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, performed by Dion and the Belmonts, but part of that in turn sounds like (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear, written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe and performed by Elvis, but this part is mainly on two notes and Bad by Michael Jackson (1987) also sounds like these.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmOiAwtvFxk&feature=kp
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CnTS39cL50

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      1. Mark Adams

        Elvis also recorded Love Me Tender, which has the same tune as Aura Lea and The Eyes Of Texas (written 1903), set to the tune of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, but he didn’t claim to have written either of them.

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      2. Mark Adams

        That two note melody in (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear, Teenager in Love and Return to Sender is similar to one found in the stop verses or whatever of old blues songs such as Sweet Home Chicago by Robert Johnson (1936). I do prefer the Blues Brothers version, though.

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    3. Mark Adams

      Bon Jovi’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, off of the same album as Blame it On the Love of Rock ‘n’ Roll, sounds very similar.

      Reply
  10. Mark Adams

    I saw the new South Australian tourism ad, and the Catrianiplay melody is also in this. I guess I’ve just heard too much music not to notice these things.

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      1. Mark Adams

        Sorry, I left it too long and so it’s not as current or easy to find. I have an interesting story though: Once at TAFE we came up with a chord progression at random and improvised over it and the Catrianiplay melody came up in one of our solos and no, it wasn’t recorded. But it does show that there is something natural about the Catrianiplay melody.

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    1. Mark Adams

      Speaking of John Farnham, She Says to Me (1980) sounds very ABBA-like, with a riff that sounds like that of Ring Ring (1973), but his song, like most of his songs from this stage, was written by Graham Goble.

      Reply
  11. Mark Adams

    The guitar solo of Suzanne by Journey (1986) also has the CatrianiPlay melody. While I’m on the subject, Jesus of Suburbia (2004) and On with the Show (1983) also sound kind of like Don’t Stop Believing by Journey (1981).

    Reply
    1. Mark Adams

      How Can I Go On by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe (1988) also has the CatrianiPlay melody.

      Reply
  12. Mark Adams

    And Joanie and Chachi’s song from Happy Days Season 9 Episode 18 Great Expectations (1982), not to be confused with Great Expectations from Season 1. Unfortunately I can’t find the episode online. You can do another update, but I think it would be an idea to just include a few examples of the melody and have users of this website hear if they’ve heard it anywhere else.

    Reply
  13. Mitch

    Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” sounds like Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” which sounds like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘N Roll.”

    Reply

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