Cascada ripped off Katy Perry, who ripped off…

Posted on by TheLastPsychiatrist and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

A minor controversy indicative of a larger story: Cascada’s song sounds a lot like Katy Perry’s song, “California Gurls”:

And it does sound similar. But why does it sound similar? Partly because I was told to look for similarities; partly because, perhaps, my knowledge of pop music only goes back as far as 2010, and not 2009:

and etc, to say nothing of similarities to any other styles of music I’m simply not familiar with (e.g. jazz.)

Does that make it bad, or less? What if it’s done on purpose, does that make it better? This mashup of Tik Tok and California Gurls is arguably better than either of the originals:

My personal favorite is a Black Eyed Peas/Eminem mashup that would be hilarious if it wasn’t absolutely earnest:

http://youtu.be/YwH2Ol_cmL0

It is madness to suggest that any of these “artists” are stealing from any of the others, any more than CNN can be accused of stealing the phrase “right wing agenda” from the Huffington Post. This doesn’t account for the fact that neither Ke$sha, Cascada, Gaga, or Katya are solely responsible for every beat of their song. The pop songs, including lyrics, are constructed from a template in a production studio. Insert rap break for an injection of masculine energy, press submit.

Where it all goes terribly wrong is when pop music tries to be better than itself. Katy Perry is on thin ice when she suggests that Rebecca Black’s song is so inconsequential that it can only be sung as parody, as irony:

It’s the same. To anyone who doesn’t know either person there’s very little way to judge the differential in quality.

There’s a lot to say about this, but first we should get oriented. If you haven’t seen this yet, enjoy:


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15 Responses to Cascada ripped off Katy Perry, who ripped off…

  1. CubaLibre says:

    It can’t be stealing because it’s all made by the same guy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr_Luke

    • cypherzeta says:

      It’s amazing how much money you can make these days by simply hitting “copy-paste”.

      That says a lot more about society and popular culture than any of the artists involved.

      • eqv says:

        “It’s amazing how much money you can make these days by simply hitting “copy-paste”.”

        I realise that you’re disdainful of popular music, and I share a lot of that disdain, but really? Copy-paste? You’re talking about a guy who’s produced, and in some cases written, some of the most catchy songs of the thousands. I gotta say, if that’s as easy as copy-paste, why aren’t you doing it? He clearly has a certain kind of genius within the field. It’s tough to write a hook that buries itself in your head for days on end.

        While we’re semi-on the topic, here are two nickleback songs played at the same time.

        Pop music has always been like this. I’ve heard baby boomers *and* people my age argue that ‘music was better in the sixties (or whatever era you went to high school in)’ but the fact is that there’s always been a flood of crap. Time has just culled away the Ke$has of the sixties.

        • eqv says:

          Oops, I f’d up the link. Two nickleback songs at once:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs4tNeGyTyI

          • philtrum says:

            IMO, that mix of two Nickelback songs is far better than any individual Nickelback song.

        • philtrum says:

          Even the stuff that has survived from the fifties and sixties is sometimes bad: most early Beatles lyrics are insipid at best, and some of the later ones are too. Famous tracks like “Hello Goodbye” get a free pass: the music may be interesting, but if the Beatles song didn’t exist, and Justin Bieber released a track tomorrow with the lyrics “You say goodbye and I say hello, hello, hello, I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello”, how would the Internet react?

          Nostalgia is an interesting thing.

          • sunshinefiasco says:

            Fair enough, but that doesn’t really take into account the general upping of the irony/cynicism quotient in the general population over the laste few decades.

            “Hello Goodbye” might be a stoner’s throwaway, but the earlier, shallow Beatles are the definition of good pop music: relatable, catchy as hell, and earnest. There are completely ridiculous old songs that crush a modern equivalent because firstly, you can hear the earnestness, and secondly, because most of these songs were thrown together just for fun/to try and make some cash, but given the absence of billions of dollars of market research/industry machinery, they had to be more creative.

          • philtrum says:

            That’s true. Still, there are numerous pop-industry-machine tracks from the present day that I find more pleasurable to listen to than the Beatles’ cover of “Mister Moonlight”, you know?

  2. Psychohistorian says:

    “Till we crash at the beach where we watch the sun rise.”

    From the Cascada song, this is maybe the winningest lyric of all time, especially combined with the visual. Please note which direction an SF beach looks out towards, and which side of the country the sun rises on.

  3. I’m not at all disdainful of pop music (were you talking to me?). And I don’t fault Cascada or anyone else from borrowing and repackaging, that’s the whole game. I take issue with those who think that when someone (eg Cascada) does it, it’s stealing, but when someone else does it (e.g Led Zeppelin) it’s authentic.

    • eqv says:

      That was directed at cypherzeta, sorry.

      I just watched the cascada video again in its entirety and I thought it was hilarious. Almost like a parody. What’s the deal with the Gaga lookalike at 2:40ish? The whole thing just seems slightly ‘off’. Maybe because they’re European and/or didn’t have enough money for a proper video?
      Also, I know exactly what you mean re: Zeppelin. I don’t know if you’ve seen this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu_zwdmz0hE
      I only found out recently that the insanely catchy ‘Ooooh woo woo etc” hook is actually a sample from an old disco track. I’d be willing to bet most people don’t know that. It’s when the stealing/remixing goes completely unnoticed that things start to get interesting.

  4. glt says:

    Girl Talk seems pertinent to this discussion. Here’s a guy who’s music is composed entirely of samples of well-known pop songs, all he does is play other people’s music in a mix-and-match fashion. Yet he objects to being called a DJ, saying that his music becomes it’s own entity. While almost all of the pieces may be recognizable, he contends that the overall song is an original work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KykbPtRb0K4
    The key quote is at about the 2:20 mark where he says “I’d say that’s roughly the equivalent of taking a familiar Beatles melody on your guitar and rearranging the notes and putting a new guitar pedal sound on it and calling it your own song.”

    We’re all so drenched in pop culture (whether we like it or not) that any time any of us creates anything, it’s going to be a collage of influences. I guess this leads to that whole discussion about whether or not there are any truly “original” ideas.

  5. claudius says:

    You know that she is a German spy because at 1:32 she uses her thumb to count to 3….

  6. bump says:

    What i find interesting about Katy Perry singing Friday, is that crowd.
    Listen to them at the chorus.
    Those are some pretty enthusiastic “yeahs.”

    Pop culture wants us to believe Rebecca Black and her song are a joke.
    The kids however, don’t seem to be the least bit fooled.

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