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Hey! Hey! You! You! Gonna File A Lawsuit!
July 10, 2007 3:36 PM   Subscribe

The Rubinoos recently filed a lawsuit against Avril Lavigne, claiming that her song Girlfriend (Youtube) plagiarized from their song, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (mp3). An authorized cover version of the Rubinoos song performed by Lush and retitled "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend" has even more similarities to the Lavigne song. Now that the teeming millions on the Internets have gotten into the act, YouTubers are now arguing whether Lavigne is a plagiarist, whether the Rubinoos plagiarized from the Rolling Stones, and whether Ms. Lavigne plagiarized a second time. Now that Web 2.0 has made it easier to uncover musical copycats, I'm hot on the case of Bob Marley vs. The Banana Splits.
posted by jonp72 (66 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Same thing happened to Paris Hilton's record company.
posted by puke & cry at 3:43 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, Rubinoo's attorney would certainly want you to believe that his client wrote "Stinky Britches" ten years ago. And they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself! But, ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!
posted by seanyboy at 3:45 PM on July 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


Oh Hell - Let's do this the YouTube way.
posted by seanyboy at 3:49 PM on July 10, 2007


I think we can all agree that the most shocking thing about this case is that anyone would want to take credit for that shitty, shitty, song... well, aside from the obviou$ rea$on$.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:49 PM on July 10, 2007


I find the implication in this post that Lavigne actually writes or produces her own songs offensive. And for the record, I'd like Keith Richards and Mick Jagger to change their band's name to "The White Chuck Berries".
posted by phaedon at 3:53 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, Linda Perry (of 4-non Blondes fame) writes her songs.

(Jesus fucking Christ why do I know that?)
posted by bardic at 3:58 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


After hearing the sample and watching the video, I think that they have similarities, but are not the same. But hey, I'm just some guy on the Internet.
posted by maxpower at 4:00 PM on July 10, 2007


One can only hope that this will do for Ms Levine what it did for Elastica. Cheaters should never win, particularly when they suck.

You know, I remember seeing her sing this awful awful cheerleader song (I actually thought it was a Toni Basil ripoff) on SNL last year. It's remarkable that I even remember this, but I remember being a little shocked at just how little stage presence she had. It was like watching live band karaoke or something. Love her or hate her, at least Britney Spears could dance (or something close to it), for fuck's sake. This girl, I'm not sure what she has that brings in so much $$$$, other than sponsoring for mascara companies.
posted by psmealey at 4:00 PM on July 10, 2007


Well, Avril Lavigne covers John Lennon's "Imagine" on the Instant Karma Darfur Benefit album, so everything comes full circle in the end. Kumbaya.
posted by blucevalo at 4:01 PM on July 10, 2007


Oh, seanyboy, I was hoping for a Harvey Birdman reference, not a South Park reference.
posted by klangklangston at 4:02 PM on July 10, 2007


Well, Lavigne/Perry or whomever definitely stole the hook from the first band. Bob Marley gets a pass because the melody of the chorus' refrain ain't no biggie. But the hook? That's a bitch move IMO.

Of course, the real crime is Nickelback -- they plagiarize themselves.
posted by bardic at 4:04 PM on July 10, 2007


I hear Roberto Alomar is also suing her for stealing his "spitting in the face" move.
posted by brain_drain at 4:05 PM on July 10, 2007


So, this is how you remind me, Bardic?
posted by psmealey at 4:05 PM on July 10, 2007


I think it's becoming painfully obvious that the real problem with all that is unholy in music is Canadia. Fuck those alcoholic ice-fisherman with a big long stick.
posted by bardic at 4:09 PM on July 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Actually, Linda Perry (of 4-non Blondes fame) writes her songs.

Linda Perry writes a LOT of songs for big label corporate artists. I don't really care about whether or not Lavigne's contracted, professional songwriter plagiarized from another song, but I do care that Google News reminds me every once in a while that she exists.

The Youtube comments, as always, are wonderful: "I liked her better when she was punk!"
posted by inoculatedcities at 4:10 PM on July 10, 2007


Umm... for your consideration:

David Bowie's Boys Keep Swinging

Blur's MOR

Am I smoking crack here?
posted by RokkitNite at 4:11 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


They're claiming ownership of "Hey you, I wanna by your girlfriend" as a lyric? Because the rest of the song is nothing like it.

Alvy: I know "Everything Back But You" is the better song, but that's a bit harsh isn't it?

bardic: Linda Perry has never written a song for Avril, you're probably thinking of Pink (or Christina or Kelly or Gwen).
posted by cillit bang at 4:11 PM on July 10, 2007


Kelly O, that is.
posted by cillit bang at 4:12 PM on July 10, 2007


He's so fine, Krishna, Krishna
posted by Flunkie at 4:14 PM on July 10, 2007


Don't question the motherfuckin' princess.
posted by ColdChef at 4:15 PM on July 10, 2007


zomg Nirvana's "Come as You Are" vs. Killing Joke's "Eighties."
posted by bardic at 4:16 PM on July 10, 2007


The Youtube comments, as always, are wonderful: "I liked her better when she was punk!"

Avril Lavigne makes Alanis Morrisette look like Keith Morris.
posted by psmealey at 4:17 PM on July 10, 2007


(And I got Linda Perry confused with The Matrix. Same monster though.

And it's still pathetic as fuck that I know any of this.)
posted by bardic at 4:19 PM on July 10, 2007


Lets not forget Red Hot Chili Peppers vs Tom Petty.
posted by puke & cry at 4:21 PM on July 10, 2007


Say what you will about Linda Perry, she did write and perform one of the worst pop songs of all time. That's definitely an achievement of a kind.
posted by psmealey at 4:23 PM on July 10, 2007


I didn't read the articles, but aren't these the people that are also suing Apple because the song is on the iTunes Music Stores?

If so, sounds like they're just going after whoever has the deepest pockets.
posted by drstein at 4:30 PM on July 10, 2007


Avril Lavigne makes Alanis Morrisette look like Keith Morris.

No, I think that Alanis is more of a Johnny Bob Goldstein.
posted by NoMich at 4:36 PM on July 10, 2007


The real crime here is that I'm not going to be able to get that fucking Banana Splits theme out of my head for weeks. Thanks.
posted by mosk at 4:43 PM on July 10, 2007


Here's the Nickelback thing, as the original MP3 has been deleted.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 4:58 PM on July 10, 2007


Sweet merciful kee-rist, jonp72, that Marley/Banana Splits thing just solved a mystery that I DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE HAD BEEN HAUNTING ME for TWENTY YEARS.
posted by jessenoonan at 5:26 PM on July 10, 2007


Sweet merciful kee-rist, jonp72, that Marley/Banana Splits thing just solved a mystery that I DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE HAD BEEN HAUNTING ME for TWENTY YEARS.

It kind of makes sense, given how much stoners like both Bob Marley and the Banana Splits.
posted by jonp72 at 5:36 PM on July 10, 2007


If so, sounds like they're just going after whoever has the deepest pockets.

Or maybe they want an injunction to keep Apple from selling the song. It's harder to get an injunction against a non-party.

Unlike traditional CD retailers, Apple will never run out of copies of the song to sell, so simply getting the record company to stop distributing the song won't necessarily stop Apple any time soon.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:41 PM on July 10, 2007


IANAL, but if anyone is, can they point to a link that explains how copying a riff is illegal? I mean 99% of punk rock today is the same four palm muted power chords repeated over and over. Is it unethical to copy someone's riff...maybe. But I just can't imagine it's illegal. In the past 50-100 years any possible riff has probably been played at some point, so does that mean that any new song can be sued for copyright infringement?
posted by jourman2 at 5:53 PM on July 10, 2007


Oh, no! She risks shredding the paltry scraps of her credibility!

Anyway, I doubt she plagiarized, but I honestly didn't think she wrote her own music anyway. Her recent music reminds me of so many throwaway LA bands on the showcase circuit.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:08 PM on July 10, 2007


The flipside of this is the classic 'change a word, get a third' tactic employed by artists when they release cover versions. Hence drool-gobbed bints like Joss Stone earning royalties as a co-writer on the execrable Fell In Love With A Boy, just because she switched the gender of the song's subject.

Anyway, screw Avril. I'm going to blow her out of the charts with my self-penned debut, Sk8tr Grrl.
posted by RokkitNite at 6:12 PM on July 10, 2007


Somebody told me
That you sang "Girlfriend"
Which sounded like "Boyfriend"
That I sang in February of last year


...wait, what?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:21 PM on July 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


The mention of Linda Perry and these lawsuits reminds me that I've always wondered why Bobby McFerrin didn't come after her for ripping off "Don't Worry Be Happy" when she wrote "What's Up". It doesn't get much more blatant than that.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:47 PM on July 10, 2007


I can't believe anyone here is claiming that this is anything but incredibly obvious knockoff.

Yeah, it happens all the time, but a little credit would be nice.
posted by blacklite at 7:08 PM on July 10, 2007


Linda Perry is now officially on my shit list.
posted by phaedon at 7:23 PM on July 10, 2007


What's getting lost here is precisely what a great band the Rubinoos really are. Nobody in the field of post-Beatles, post-Raspberries pop writes better songs, and more consistantly. The problem is -- and I thought this when I first heard the song some 25 years ago -- is that "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" is (as the FPP points out) a screaming and direct rip off of "Get Off of My Cloud." There is no way of getting around this, my great and beloved Rubinoos. There is nothing else in your entire gigantic ouevre of magnificent, hook-heavy pop, that is a rip off on this scale. And that you would bring it to the world's attention this way is enough to make me cry...
posted by Faze at 7:25 PM on July 10, 2007


And lest we forget, the Rubinoos also rocked the theme song to Revenge of the Nerds, which means they should--they must--prevail against Avril Levigne, who is just a slightly punked-out Pi Delta Pi.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:35 PM on July 10, 2007


first thought: all pop music sounds the same. who cares.
after listening: yeah. it's stolen. but who cares. neither song is either good and the effect of the "hey hey you you" is no all that novel. hope this bitchy fellah makes his money, just cause i like watching the record industry eat itself.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:36 PM on July 10, 2007


Prom Night vs. The Bobby Fuller Four
posted by Sailormom at 7:41 PM on July 10, 2007



Oh Hell - Let's do this the YouTube way .


No no, let's do the the YTMND way.
posted by falconred at 7:49 PM on July 10, 2007


While we're on the subject, is it just me, or is "misunderstanding" by Genesis just a half-time version of Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the rain"?
posted by notsnot at 8:02 PM on July 10, 2007


yay for Lush. i'm just excited to see my favorite shoegazer band mentioned on mefi.
posted by cazoo at 8:44 PM on July 10, 2007


I kinda like that song.
*hangs head in shame*

posted by graventy at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2007


Re: Bowie v. Blur - I agree Bowie sped up is definitely very similar to the Blur riff.

Re: Bobby McFerrin v. 4 Non-Blondes - THANK YOU. I always thought this and I am happy someone else feels the same way about one of the most contemptible songs every made.

Re: Avril v. the Rubinoos - whoever wrote it it does seem like a pretty big rip-off not only in the song structure, but one of the key lyrics.

Doing covers is a pretty lame way to get radio play, though I cop to enjoying the guilty pleasure of a good cover every once in a while. Getting the radio play advantage of doing a an almost-cover (like Avril) while denying the song was at least influenced is way lamer. Lawsuits, etc. aside it would be nice to see someone have the integrity to say, "Yeah, I was probably influenced by that song" and take the consequences (if any).
posted by gnash at 9:35 PM on July 10, 2007


The Tinsel Town aficionados
Come to see and not to hear
But then again this system works
As perfect as a dream
It works for all of those record company pricks
Who come to skim the cream
From the cesspools of excitement
Where Jim Morrison once stood
It's the Tinsel Town Rebellion
From downtown Hollywood

Is everybody happy?
Oh never mind!
No problem!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:07 PM on July 10, 2007


Re: Bowie v. Blur - I agree Bowie sped up is definitely very similar to the Blur riff.

And the lyrics, of course: 'Boys keep swinging, boys always work it out,' vs 'You and me, we'll work it out' w/ v. similar melodies and backing, just sped up slightly. Seriously, this is like the imaginary friend only I can see... your acknowledgement makes me want to go: 'You see him too?'
posted by RokkitNite at 10:14 PM on July 10, 2007


I think it's becoming painfully obvious that the real problem with all that is unholy in music is Canadia. Fuck those alcoholic ice-fisherman with a big long stick.

Canadia?

And clearly you've never had the sublime pleasure of listening to The Tragically Hip, one of the best bands in the known universe.
posted by bwg at 11:12 PM on July 10, 2007


Say what you will about Linda Perry, she did write and perform one of the worst pop songs of all time. That's definitely an achievement of a kind.

Oh my motherfucking lack of God. My first post-college home was a shitty duplex in Chula Vista, CA... and the neighbors in the other part of the house played that song all the godamned time. And by that, I mean I got to hear that godawful fucking mess of a song at least twice after getting home from work. When on vacation, or otherwise un- or underemployed and thus hanging around the house a lot, it wasn't unusual to hear "What's Up" ten times during the course of the day.
posted by the_bone at 11:57 PM on July 10, 2007


The only appropriate use of the hey hey you you hook is, hey hey you you get off my cloud.
posted by psmealey at 1:17 AM on July 11, 2007


I have wondered for years about Marley and the Banana Splits but first came the denial, "Ah, come on!" then the attacks, "Your're wasted! and finally the pleading, "You can't take down Marley! He's a legend! You'll die! No one will believe you!"

Well now the truth is known and I am not alone. It becomes even more apparent when you listen to the Liz Phair version of the Banana Splits song. Marley did live in the US for a few years and may have been influenced by the crazed genius of the Splits.
posted by jadepearl at 3:14 AM on July 11, 2007


Now that Web 2.0 has made it easier to uncover musical copycats

This phrase made my poor little brain whimper for mercy.
posted by straight at 8:06 AM on July 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lets not forget Red Hot Chili Peppers vs Tom Petty.

I remember years ago a frustrated search for which Tom Petty album "Under The Bridge" was on...
posted by straight at 8:17 AM on July 11, 2007


I have pointed out the whole Banana Splits/ Bob Marley thing for years and people looked at me like I was crazy. While we're at it, doesn't "Hitsville UK" by The Clash have that same musical phrase?
posted by DaddyNewt at 9:26 AM on July 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


And clearly you've never had the sublime pleasure of listening to The Tragically Hip, one of the best bands in the known universe.
posted by bwg at 11:12 PM on July 10


Agreed.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 9:57 AM on July 11, 2007


God, I was in Target last weekend and there were 30 teevees playing Avril Lavigne "GF" and I hung around because--I swear this is true--I've never heard or seen Lavigne before (other than a newspaper pic or sthing). And I immediately said to myself..."Self!" I said, "You know this song...what is it? Who did it? Who is she covering?" but I gave it no more thought bc I figured that in this end-time (the Mayans have us checking out in 2012, innit?) no one would rip a song off & not give full & fair credit, right?

So thanks to this thread, I have the answer to the who did it question, and my faith is restored in the ability of rock & roll to live parasitically off it's dead carcass forever (until 2012, that is).
posted by beelzbubba at 10:41 AM on July 11, 2007


I've been familiar with that Rubinoos song for about a decade (thanks, Rhino DIY series!), and I gotta say that the first time I heard that Avril song, I thought more of "Hey Mickey" than of the Rubinoos tune.
posted by sklero at 1:01 PM on July 11, 2007


Well, I kinda like Linda Perry, and I think that's not much of a rip-off that I can see (what, the humming bit?). The "Hey Hey You You" bit is the only part of the Lavigne song that really matches up with the Rubinoos song, and that's stolen from the Stones in the first place. Maybe they can get rich off of La Avril instead of the Verve for once. And as for the Elastica, well, it is just the riff but they should have acknowledged it, and the other Wire material ... well, maybe they were too derivative by half. But they took it in a different direction, and I think that's worth something.

My favorite unrecognized, uncredited ripoff doesn't get much play, though. Try the opening of Jeff Buckley's Eternal Life and the Peppers' Can't Stop. (It's most recognizable using the version off Grace; Sin-E is a lot rougher, for instance.)

Like the Marley bit, I think it's impossible for a musician working today to not have little bits of everything in their heads, and I can't imagine working with that hanging over my head. Fortunately, I sucked at piano....
posted by dhartung at 5:29 PM on July 11, 2007


"My Sweet Lord" sounds nothing like "He's So Fine". You are all bollocks.

--G. Harrison, (dec.)
posted by beelzbubba at 6:42 PM on July 11, 2007


Ripoffs everywhere! Why the fax machine is nothing but a waffle iron with a phone attached!
posted by stevil at 7:24 AM on July 12, 2007


By the way, I saw Avril last year in VIP seats and Duck Dunn sat in on bass. Totally r*cked.
posted by stevil at 7:24 AM on July 12, 2007


How she got in my pajamas, I'll never know.
posted by stevil at 7:24 AM on July 12, 2007


And here I was thinking "Wait, didn't the Ramones cover I wanna be your boyfriend? 'Cause that was later covered on a (pretty good, actually) Ramones tribue album?"

Then I realized the Ramones version was a totally different song. And much much better.

Oh, and throw me into "jesuschristAvrilsucks" pile.
posted by revmitcz at 2:39 PM on July 12, 2007


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