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 thoughts on “CatrianiPlay: The Most Used Melody in Pop Music

  1. avatarMark Adams

    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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  2. avatarMark 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.
    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

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And Losing You by Jimmy Barnes (2007).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zqblae9YAwk

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    Speaking of Barnesy, Forgiveness (2007) sounds kind of like I Can See Clearly Now and something else which I haven’t worked out yet.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG3aS6lnkjE

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  3. avatarMark 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=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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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And Keep a Knocking, possibly written by Percy Bradford (c1928) and performed by many artists. Here is the Little Richard version.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYr7I4gOSXk&feature=kp

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.

  4. avatarMark 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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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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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  5. avatarMark 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.

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  6. avatarMark 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”.

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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).

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    Keith Reply:

    This is a good one. Will post soon.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

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

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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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    Keith Reply:

    Mark, you’re a music listening machine. Wait, ARE YOU A MACHINE????

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And parts of I Got You by Train (2009) sound like Shortnin’ Bread.

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And the clear influence for This’ll Be My Year (2012) is We Didn’t Start the Fire (1989?).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfT17egn1SM

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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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  7. avatarMark 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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    Keith Reply:

    Do you have a link to it online somewhere?

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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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    Keith Reply:

    Ha. That’s pretty interesting!

  8. avatarMark Adams

    And The Reason Why by John Farnham (1993).

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrdlX4685Ik

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  9. avatarMark 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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    Mark Adams Reply:

    And Vertigo (1969) sounds like Victoria by The Kinks.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3D76jm2vKs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc_HtMDP-XQ

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    Mark Adams Reply:

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

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    Mark Adams Reply:

    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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  10. avatarMark 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).

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