Okay, that’s harsh, all music does sorta sound like other music provided it’s listenable in the first place (some of that contemporary classical music may stand out there on its own). But there occasionally come along new songs that are such blatant thefts of another artist’s style that you wonder why they bothered. The answer is usually the first artist is no longer using the style (hello, Van Morrison!) so why the heck not? In that spirit I offer:
“Her Town Now,” Mark Erelli.
Estate That Should Sue: Tom Petty
Catchy tune about what you lose after a breakup, especially if your partner is the more social one and you both continue to reside in the same place. I had many male friends back in my Somerville days who lived this out; in my circle the women were always the more social ones. And those friends did occasionally also lose a favorite book or album in the break-up, as this guy does with “Blonde On Blonde.”
Mark not only rips off Tom’s musical style here (plus a Searchers riff) but his vocal style: the snarky, nasal emphasis on the line “the day she moved” comes straight out of “You Got Lucky” and there’s an interjected “oh” toward the end that will make you feel like you’re listening to Petty karaoke. But like I said, catchy.
“My Whole Life Is Over (All Over Again),” Aaron Lee Tasjan
Estate That Should Sue: Harry Nilsson
A break-up song, or something: the lyrics range widely and inscrutably. But there’s no missing the “Don’t Forget Me”-style piano and the emotive, music hall vocal Nilsson loved perhaps more than we, his fans, did. (Nilsson was by most reports a contrary bastard whose decisions artistic and otherwise floated up from the bottom of a bottle.) But this is a great line Nilsson himself would have appreciated:
A promise is a freakshow
And I’m a freakshow too
And dropping an obscenity (“shit-ton”) in the middle of a gorgeous ballad is so fucking Nilsson (not to mention so self-sabotaging contrary bastard). Does the world need faux-Nilsson? Haven’t I already explained “why the heck not”?
“Together,” Greenland Whalefishers
Estate That Should Sue: Shane Macgowan (not technically dead but have you seen those photos from his wedding last year?)
I heard this on college radio and immediately thought: Shane is recording again! He sounds good! Modern medicine can work miracles!
But no, it’s just some guys from Norway borrowing (that’s polite) Shane’s musical, vocal, and songwriting styles and you know what? Doing a hell of a job at it!
The theme is love in hard times, or love in self-manufactured hard times, or how hard times makes love more important, or how you manufacture hard times in order to make love seem more important…I don’t know.
But listen: “You gave me a future/We both signed in blood.” “You are the star where I belong.” Shane would have been proud to have written those lines, I think.
And dropping the word “Google” in the middle of a trad Irish song? That probably wouldn’t have occurred to Shane (it’s hard to imagine him in front of a computer) but even copycats can add their own flourish or two.