I took this post’s title from a Led Zeppelin song. It seemed only fitting that a title for a list of sound-alike songs should come from a band whose members are no strangers to allegations of not properly crediting their inspiration and plagiarism.
Of course, not all similar songs have nefarious origins. Great minds think alike, and even when circumstances are less coincidental, sometimes the influence of another artist’s work can be subliminal. However, occasionally songs bear a resemblance to each other so uncanny that the similarities are nearly impossible to write off as coincidental.
In preparing this list, I tried to steer clear of some of the more famous examples of this phenomenon, but still found plenty of songs with strong similarities.
1. Killing Joke- “Eighties” and Nirvana- “Come As You Are”
The iconic, murky intro to Nevermind standout, “Come As You Are”, bears more than a passing resemblance to the guitar riff from “Eighties” by seminal post-punk band Killing Joke.
The songs are so similar Kurt Cobain feared legal action, although Killing Joke would never file for copyright infringement.
2. Tom Petty- “Last Dance With Mary Jane” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers- “Dani California”
Q:Aside from both of these songs being incredibly overplayed, what else do they have in common?
A:Well, pretty much everything. The two songs are more or less interchangeable, but Tom Petty seems cool about it.
3. Tom Tom Club- “Genius of Love” and Magic Wands “Teenage Love”
Magic Wands are probably best known for being the band that ripped off Sleigh Bells’ aesthetics. This is inaccurate. While Sleigh Bells are much more well known than Magic Wands, both bands formed in 2008 and released debut EP’s in 2009.
However, Magic Wands did seemingly take from a less obvious source.
If the bouncing bassline in “Teenage Love” makes you nod your head in a familiar way, imagine someone intermittently screaming James Brown, and you might realize your essentially listening to Tom Tom Club’s 1981 hit “Genius of Love”. I feel validated knowing I’m not the only one to notice the similarity.
4. The Beatles- “I Should’ve Known Better” and The Vaccines- “Blow it Up”
There are definitely worse sources of material for an aspiring British guitar-driven band than the Beatles. However, as Marc Hogan pointed out in his review of What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? for Pitchfork the similarity is blatant. All things considered it seems like a fitting tribute for a band whose members had their own problems avoiding plagiarizing others.
5. New York Dolls- “Personality Crisis” and Titus Andronicus- “Food Fight”
The mostly instrumental track by Titus Andronicus is an homage to proto-punk rockers, New York Dolls, rather than an attempt to crib an awesome tune, but the two songs do sound nearly identical.
6.Bo Diddley- “Bo Diddley” and everyone
“I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob.”
Bo Diddley popularized a beat so instantly recognizable it has its own Wikipedia entry, which concludes with a partial list of songs that make use of the Bo Diddley beat.
Use of Diddley’s signature riff is so rampant, not even a 117-song list contains the title of every song to employ the Bo Diddley beat.
A lack of compensation for the wide-spread use of the Bo Diddley beat was a sore spot with the wildly influential bluesman until his death in 2008.
“I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob,” Diddley told the New York times in a 2003 interview.