What's this pop song ripping off Kraftwerk's Computer Love?
July 19, 2008 8:44 AM   Subscribe

I heard a piece of Muzak while shopping in Staples; the verse was forgettable, but the chorus was the verse from Kraftwerk's Computer Love (0:31 to 0:47 is the first full statement of it). It wasn't just similar; I know about soundalikes; it was note-for-note identical in melody and rhythm. I heard two more verse/choruses. It didn't seem to be a cover; the lyrics were not about computers; and of course, the actual "verse" was completely different. Searching and asking got no results, anyone know it?

If you don't know what a "soundalike" is, it's when you take a song that you can't get the rights to, make a few changes to it to distinguish it from the original, and use it in place of the original. You can get pretty close to the original but you have to change the original tune in some significant way.

The typical strategy used is to change only one or two minor notes up until the last (climax) bar of the tune, but invert that last bar entirely (if the original goes up, you go down and vice versa).

Sort of contemptible but sort of musically funny when you hear one for the first time.

But this wasn't a soundalike.
posted by lupus_yonderboy to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Doofus Magoo at 9:05 AM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's Coldplay's Talk.
posted by Who_Am_I at 9:20 AM on July 19, 2008

It sure looks like you've found your answer, but I see, er, hear, two problems.

1. The Kraftwerk sample linked to by the USA Today blogger is an entirely different part of the song than that to which the OP referred (0:31 to 0:47 of the Google Video).

2. I've spent the last 15 minutes listening to all three clips over and over and I can't hear any similarity at all. But that blogger sure sounds sure of himself... maybe I'm tone deaf.
posted by Dec One at 9:26 AM on July 19, 2008

Dec One -- a more obvious comparison would be this (Coldplay) to this (Kraftwerk). The link provided by the blogger goes to a thirty-second excerpt that (as best as I can tell) doesn't even encompass the riff that Coldplay uses.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 9:51 AM on July 19, 2008

Okay, I was listening to the wrong Kraftwerk song. The OP's link goes to a song called Computer World, not Computer Love, or at least it does when I click on it. To make matters worse, that song also switches from verse to chorus and back at 0:31 and 0:47 (or close to those times). To make matters even worse, I somehow clicked on Computer World again (track 4 instead of track 5) on the BN.com link provided by the blogger, even though the track names there are in German, and the blogger clearly said to click on track 5!

Thanks for your help. I was wondering if I was going crazy. Talk really doesn't sound anything like Computer World!
posted by Dec One at 10:09 AM on July 19, 2008

It's 'Computer Love', not 'Computer World'... but you're right, it's the same chorus.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:41 AM on July 19, 2008

According to the internets, Coldplay actually wrote to Kraftwerk for permission to use the riff, and then credited them in the liner notes for writing that song.
posted by nursegracer at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2008

By the way, there was no "ripping off" of said riff - Chris Martin wrote a letter to Kraftwerk and asked if he could use the melody, and they said yes.

But yes, I thought the exact same thing when I first heard the song.
posted by O9scar at 10:53 AM on July 19, 2008

Here there are back-to-back.
posted by Exchequer at 12:42 PM on July 19, 2008

Here they are mashed-up (scroll down or search for "Computer Talk")
posted by anthill at 3:52 PM on July 19, 2008

Arg, sorry for messing up the post, I originally thought the song was "Computer World" and then changed my mind but I guess I posted the wrong link.

The Coldplay number is it. Apparently they did everything right, asking Kraftwerk if they could use it and giving them songwriting credits (which means royalties), and that makes me feel happy: big points to Coldplay for "do the right thing". More people should do things like that.

Sorry again for screwing it up, though I guess if I'd gotten the song right initially I wouldn't have posed the question.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:43 AM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

After listening to the song in question, I find it pretty forgettable :-D but I still have positive feelings for Coldplay based on their good taste and ethical nature, just like I have positive feelings towards Pearl Jam for their principled stand against [spits] Ticketmaster, even though I am unable to remember their music for even a second after I hear it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:00 AM on July 20, 2008

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