I’ve been on a bit of a Cat Stevens kick lately. With so many great songs it’s no wonder his work has been borrowed so often. The other day I was listening to the track Matthew & Son from his debut album of the same title. There’s a short little vocal melody that sounded so much like the Tears for Fears hit “Mad World”. Check it out below. I threw in the Gary Jules version for the younger folks out there.
Cat Stevens - "Matthew & Son " (1966)
Tears for Fears - "Mad World" (1982)
Gary Jules - "Mad World" (2003)
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Well, I mean listen to it: “He’s got people who’ve been working, for fear of tears.”
For fear of tears?
Sounds to me like the band wanted Tears for Fears to be a nod to this album.
No, no, “He’s got people who’ve been working, for FIFTY years” – I remember hearing this similarity years ago so it’s nice someone else spotted it
“Mad World” by Gary Jules is done very much in Cat Stevens’ later acoustic style. It would fit perfectly in Harold and Maude, which had an all-Cat Stevens soundtrack, especially the line “the dreams I have of dying are the best I’ve ever had.” Maybe “Mad World” was inspired by Harold and Maude, and they borrowed a bit of the melody from “Matthew & Son?” Sounds that way to me, anyway.
I thought that was how the lyrics go. And the guys from Tears for Fears say the name came from Primal Scream therapy.
This was my favourite ever song soundalike. It was like unearthing Tutankhamun’s tomb. Everyone rips off Cat Stevens, a great melodist.
Anyway, remember the blatant (albeit at least changed key and moved around slightly) theft by Bryan Adams of Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”? – http://youtu.be/lP4Nnek6DCo
Wow. I am just way too distracted by this totally 80s, probably (at the time, big budget) video.
Released in 1991.. but still.
Either everyone rips him off or he writes such logical songs that someone’s bound to come up with something similar. X-Kid by Green Day (2013) also sounds like Father And Son (1970), as well as the others I mentioned before.
Good one Mark!
You can even add Les Poissons from Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989), written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and The Donkey Serenade (1936), the latter of which, X-kid actually sounds more like than Father and Son.
The only thing is X-Kid was released on iTre! in Dec 2012. I must have been thinking of iQuatro! The Making of iUno! iDos! iTre! Also from iUno! iDos! iTre! (2012): Some of the songs have riffs similar to Hit Me with Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar (1980), but they might just be using the three punk chords; Brutal Love sounds like Country Road by John Denver (1971); Wild One and Missing You sound like Creep by Radiohead (1992) and Baby Tell Me I’m the Only One by Thirsty Merc (2004). Missing You also sounds like Wonderwall by Oasis (1995). I think the fact that Missing You sounds more like a combination of Creep and Wonderwall than either of them suggests that it isn’t really taken from either.
The chorus of Missing You reminds me a little of Blind Faith by Warrant (1990), but more of a song I learnt from church: Crown Him King of Kings, written by Sharon Damazio (1991); Walk Away sounds like Luka by Suzanne Vega (1987); the piano arrangement in The Forgotten sounds like Let it Be by The Beatles but with different chords (substitutions?);
Drama Queen sounds like a cross between Changes by David Bowie (1971) and Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton (1991).
Also, Dirty Rotten Bastards sounds like Toreador, En Garde from Carmen by Georges Bizet (1875) and the French National Anthem: Le Marseillais (1792), written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, but this comes across as their cheeky punk attitude, rather than trying to pass off someone else’s work as their own. There are several different parts, with similarities to other songs, such as a riff that sounds like that of Almost Saturday Night by John Fogerty (1975).
I listened to iTre! the other day and I made a game out of it, not that it wasn’t enjoyable enough to listen to. Green Day’s music does have a familiar quality to it, but I’m not certain that they always intentionally sound like other people. They have written about 150 songs, so sooner or later a song is going to sound like another song, and it has. But I do think it was deliberate in the case of Dirty Rotten Bastards and the one that sounds like Downtown.
It occurred to me that X-Kid also sounds like their earlier song: Basket Case (1994).
Also, Troublemaker sounds like What I Like About You and Picture Book (1968).
It’s certainly possible that the reason they were able to produce the three album series so quickly was because they ‘outsourced’ songs.
And the title line of Stay the Night sounds like Run to the Hills by Ironmaiden (1982).
It might be a stretch, but the verse of 8th Avenue Serenade sounds like Constant Craving by kd Lang.
Brutal Love sounds even more like Bring it On Home To Me by Sam Cooke (1970) and also like Key to the Highway, first recorded by Charlie Segar (1940), then covered by others such as Led Zeppelin, Derek & The Dominoes and Eric Clapton and B.B. King. The link below is for the Jazz Gillum version.
And Amy sounds kind of like I Go to Pieces by Del Shannon, but just slightly. I’ve changed my mind about some of the other examples though, which are just too similar. It seems the band started off writing fast three chord punk songs and whenever they wanted to extend themselves, they based a song on someone else’s song, but sometimes too closely.
Brutal Love also sounds like Stone Cold by Jimmy Barnes (1994).
Sorry, Barnesy had already released Stone Cold on the previous album in 1993, doesn’t make a difference to the order, though.
Brutal Love also sounds like Slum Kids by The Kinks (1974).
While I’m discussing The Kinks, You Make it All Worthwhile (1975) sounds like Reason to Believe, Underneath the Neon Sign (1975) sounds like I’d Rather Go Blind (1968), School Days and The Last Assembly (both 1975) sound like Slum Kids (1974), the riff from I’m in Disgrace (1975) sounds like Brown Sugar, Closer by Michael Paynter sounds like Headmaster (1975), the riff from Come Dancing (1983) sounds like a calypso version of Turning Japanese (1980) and the riff from Don’t Forget to Dance (1983) sounds like the melody of She’s a Rainbow by The Rolling Stones (1967).
Sorry, the iTre! album states: All words by Billie Joe Armstrong. All music by Green Day except “Brutal Love” written by Billie Joe Armstrong and Sam Cooke. But that doesn’t explain the resemblance to Keys to the Highway or Country Road.
Adding to your Green Day Toreador comment Mark, there’s another part of Dirty Rotten Bastards which sounds like a club song in the AFL (Australian Football League) (Adelaide Crows) which base their song on the US Marines Hymn.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xr_4z1kRkuo. (Adelaide Crows.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSRlQPD6Xiw. (US Marines Hymn.)
The only problem is, when footballers ‘sing’, it often doesn’t sound like anything.
Sorry, I actually meant the US Marines Fight Song. I had the wrong football team.
That is, I didn’t mean Les Marseillais, I did mean Toreador and the US Marines Fight Song.
Cat Stevens would have won, if he had sued.