We’ve all got one, haven’t we? One of those so nags where, if it comes on the radio or is next on air playlist, for a second or two, we think it’s another song because it sounds similar. Or you’ll be singing along to a song and start siting a bit of another song because it reminds you of it.
Sometimes the similarity is totally obvious and everyone agrees with you, other times it seems to be unique to your ears. And sometimes, songs sound so alike other tunes that things get a bit heated and a few lawyers have to get into a room and work things out, whether the similarity is intentional or not.
We look at songs that may not be identical, or even have that much in common, but in there somewhere is a striking similarity that we can’t get out of our heads. Do you agree?
Ed Sheeran and Sia
OK, how many times have you started prepping your best Sia impression only to realise it’s Shape of You that’s started up and not Cheap Thrills? 100? More? Us too. Also, one for the mums and dad, don’t you think Cheap Thrills sounds a bit like Toto’s Africa? No? Oh.
Anyway, Shape Of You was Number 1 for 13 weeks and Cheap Thrills four weeks at Number 2 so if the formula works, it works.
Rita Ora and Five
Our close personal Twitter friend Lakaiya reckons Rita Ora’s I Will Never Let You Down and Five’s Keep On Movin’ sound very similar. Was Calvin Harris, who wrote Rita’s 2014 Number 1 a secret Five fan? We bet Abs was his favourite.
Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé
Two amazing pop voices and two equally brilliant songs – Kelly’s Already Gone and Beyoncé’s Halo aren’t so much poppelgangers as your actual pop twins. Both from the bankable pen of OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, these two songs are great in their own way, but so similar they could stand in for one another at a party and nobody would notice. Beyoncé went Top 10 in 2009 with Halo. Kelly decided against a full release for Already Gone in the UK.
Delta Goodrem and Arcade Fire
Remember Delta’s Sitting On Top Of The World from back in 2012? (You may not, it didn’t chart in the UK.) Well, doesn’t it sound a little like Arcade Fire’s Rebellion from 2005? Delta’s song got some more attention in 2014 when a few people reckoned Kylie’s Into The Blue sounded a bit like it. Lots of “oooh”ing, you see.
Bruno Mars and the Police
We’re sure a good clean-living, wholesome boy like Bruno doesn’t have too many brushes with the law, but in this case one of his big hits, Locked Out Of Heaven, does sound quite like a couple of songs by British band the Police, who were, of course, led by Sting. Roxanne, Don’t Stand So Close To Me and even Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. When asked about it, Bruno said he was a fan of the band but it wasn’t intentional. Either way, Bruno Mars’ Locked Out Of Heaven was a hit, spending three weeks at Number 2 in 2012.
Lady Gaga and Madonna
Uh-oh, pick your corners – this is fan wars. Pretty much everyone remembers the mild stink caused when Gaga released Born This Way in 2011, the title track from her second album. Its message of motivation and self-belief was said to be reminiscent of Madonna’s 1989 hit Express Yourself. Gaga at first said it was inspired by Madge’s song, then said it wasn’t, Madonna herself saw into the future and realised the best way to become immortalised in a GIF was to say the word “reductive” then sip some tea. Anyway, Madonna’s song got to Number 5 and Lady Gaga’s peaked at 3 – just to fuel the fire a little – and they do sound a little alike, and are both great, so well done both.
Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars and the Gap Band
Popstars are always influenced by other artists and Uptown Funk – a little-known, under-played tune you may not have hard of – certainly owed some of its swagger to the Gap Band’s classic song Oops Upside Your Head from 1980. Mark, Bruno and the other songwriters agreed and credited the older track’s writers.
Maroon 5 & Kendrick Lamar and DJ Snake & Justin Bieber
It’s all about the high-profile features! Two top tropical house tunes, each big hits, but with more than a passing similarity that’s not just about genre. Maroon 5’s Don’t Wanna Know, which reached Number 5 in 2016 has the “know-know-know” and Let Me Love You, which sent six weeks at Number 2 in early 2006 has the “nah-nah-nah” – sometimes that’s all you need.
James Arthur and the Script
“Oh the Script have got a new song out,” says your friend. But, no, it’s James Arthur’s comeback Number 1 from 2016, Say You Won’t Let Go, which kind of is very Scripty, isn’t it? But so are a lot of songs. Various sourced reported the Script weren’t happy, but nothing came of it and James dismissed the controversy. “It’s 2017, there’s only seven notes in music,” he said.
Little Mix and GRL
One’s an empowering “we’re through the I’m over you” anthem with a rousing chorus that would get an entire dancefloor pogoing in seconds and… so is the other. Little Mix’s huge Shout Out to My Ex and GRL’s debut hit from 2014, Ugly Heart, share a certain vibe and would probably mix into each other very well as you danced in the club with someone else because your ex is a dog. So why not enjoy both?
Rihanna and Pet Shop Boys
What do you reckon about this one?
Both confessional, although the Pet Shop Boys are definitely feeling a lot less guilty about being bad to the bone than RiRi.
Zayn and Drake
Coming right up to date, when Zayn and Partynextdoor’s Still Got Time starts up, do you not – for just a second – think it might be Drake’s Passionfruit?
Melanie C and Katy Perry
We’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that Mel’s 2016 comeback Anymore and Katy’s 2016 comeback Chained to the Rhythm have similar elements. Sadly, the number of people who will actually listen to us say this is quite small – but seriously, as each song goes into its chorus, there is something there.
Taylor Swift and One Direction
Tay-Tay and 1D will be forever linked because of Haylor – the romance between Harry Styles and Taylor Swift that we all really need to get over. But haven’t you noticed how similar Style and Perfect are? They’re on similar themes and, if you think about it, Perfect could pretty much be the answer record to Style. A few mashups have surfaced online which prove that while they may not be twins, they’re certainly close cousins.
Little Mix and Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi’s 1984 smash Girls Just Want To Have Fun inspired a slew of hits across the 1980s and even into the ’90s, but you could still feel its influence 21 years into the future when Little Mix scored a Number 1 with the similarly empowering Black Magic.