Coldplay Viva La Vida Satriana Ripoff? The Internet helps you decide!

by Stephen Cobb on December 7, 2008

There’s an interesting Web 2.0 twist in the lawsuit brought by guitar legend Joe Satriani against Coldplay for alleged plagiarism in Viva La Vida (one of the tunes used to sell iPhones). Thanks to the magic of the Internet you can play both songs at the same time. I think this is quite telling.*

Here’s one of the places that has both performances on the same page so you can decide what you think. If you time your “Play” clicks just right, and you have decent bandwidth, you can get them playing on top of each other.

Having admired Satriani’s musicianship for many years, as well as his extensive knowledge of the history of guitar technique, I am inclined to take him seriously. This could well be a My Sweet Lord He’s So Fine moment, although that case–in which George Harrison’s 1970 hit “My Sweet Lord” was found to have plagiarised “He’s So Fine” composed by Ronald Mack and recorded by the Chiffons in 1962 lasted for a lot longer than a moment–the moment the question was raised, the public could start deciding for itself, albeit without the benefit fo the Internet.

Regardless of the outcome of the Satriani Coldplay case, there’s a fascinating historical twist: Apple Computer used this possibly plagiarized tune to promote its iPhone less than two years after the conclusion of decades of trademark litigation involving Apple Music, of which Harrison was a co-founder.

*Note: The author of this blog post was declared “tone deaf” by his third grade teacher, Mrs. Ashby, and makes no claim to having any special knowledge about music, except a. He knows what he likes when he hears it, and b. He claims he can recognize any Otis Redding recording within 3 seconds.
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