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Homage or Fromage
October 1, 2010 7:16 PM   Subscribe

"(Sigur Ros) have never allowed their music to be used to sell anything. And they get asked a lot. Sometimes they get asked, say 'no' and then a few months later an ad will suddenly appear that sounds strangely familiar."
posted by infinitefloatingbrains (134 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's hilarious.

If you had asked me I would have said that I was positive Sigur Ros had allowed their music to be used quite a few times.


Huh.
posted by kbanas at 7:22 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


They used one of their songs for that Disney doc "Earth" as I recall. Was that their choice?
posted by lattiboy at 7:22 PM on October 1, 2010


Man that's just fucking blatant.
posted by empath at 7:22 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could have sworn an actual Sigur Ros song was used in the trailer for The Invasion (the umpteenth remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers). I guess trailers are less problematic for them than physical products, though.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:30 PM on October 1, 2010


Honestly, they should just take the money since they're gonna get blamed for it anyway.
posted by empath at 7:31 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. And explicitly calling the advertisers out for copying their music could get them sued? Something is seriously wrong here.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:32 PM on October 1, 2010 [16 favorites]


See also: Waits v. Frito-Lay.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 7:35 PM on October 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


Wait, what about that episode of V?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:36 PM on October 1, 2010


Honestly, they should just take the money since they're gonna get blamed for it anyway.

Do artists resist selling out because of the way people will see them or the way they will see themselves? I can't imagine the former holding up against the weakest rationalization.
posted by any major dude at 7:36 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was gonna link here to Waits/Fritos, too. Waits made a bundle off of that, so, if Sigur Ros hire a good lawyer, maybe they can have their day in court and bring home the big bucks too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:38 PM on October 1, 2010


I'll admit I haven't heard much sigur ros...but that post just makes me think "So sigur ros just makes music that sounds like cheesy ad music?" maybe they're bad rip offs, but the comments here make it sound like it's pretty close...
posted by toekneebullard at 7:39 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, there is a single band responsible for that annoying ethereal music in every "indie" movie made the last ten years?
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:39 PM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Weird. I could have sworn I first heard them in an advert.
posted by Artw at 7:41 PM on October 1, 2010


But if you sue someone for making an ad that sounds like your music, and are awarded a settlement, isn't that just using your music for advertising, after the fact?
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 7:41 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you don't like Sigur Ros, there is Something Wrong With You.
posted by empath at 7:46 PM on October 1, 2010 [20 favorites]


I would be pretty embarrassed if I found out that ad companies are copying my music because it puts people in consuming mode. I'd seriously think about switching careers. Seriously.
posted by Avenger at 7:46 PM on October 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


I like Sigur Ros. But I've always thought it sounded like it was intentionally made to be background music for visual media with a voiceover.

I respect a musician's choice as to what to license for sync with what specific media. I might not agree with it, but I respect and support it. I, personally, am a complete sell-out. but I don't think everyone has to be.
posted by The World Famous at 7:48 PM on October 1, 2010


This explains why Explosions in the Sky drive around in gold-plated limousines while having sold no more than six copies of any of their albums.
posted by griphus at 7:48 PM on October 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


Well as an editor, I know this sort of thing happens all the time. You put in a song as scratch track (because you don't want some shit stock music in there) and then everyone grows so fond of it that when it comes time to replace it with composed music or buy the rights (which is always super-expensive), it's just easier and cheaper to do a knock-off.

Witness this trailer for Red (the new Bruce Willis movie) which has a knock-off of the theme from Brazil so obvious it made me laugh out loud.
posted by fungible at 7:49 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly, they should just take the money since they're gonna get blamed for it anyway.

I think that was rationale Moby used for licensing every song on Play.
posted by exogenous at 7:52 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


The saddest part is you have to wonder where the RIAA and their big concern for copyrights of artists are... oh, yeah probably getting paid by the ad companies in the first place.
posted by yeloson at 7:53 PM on October 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


But if you sue someone for making an ad that sounds like your music, and are awarded a settlement, isn't that just using your music for advertising, after the fact?

Well, there are two points to suing (besides personal financial gain awarded to the plaintiff) for this type of soundalike "plagiarism":

1) If an artist is opposed to having his music used to sell something, and a soundalike so closely resembling artist's music as to be indistinguishable is used in an ad, then artist is suffering from potential public misperception. People will think it's the artist's music, and that the artist is a sell-out, or supports your eating high fructose corn chips, or whatever.

2) Punitive damages to companies that engage in such deceptive practices will, theoretically, send a warning to other companies to not do this sort of thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:53 PM on October 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


lattiboy: "They used one of their songs for that Disney doc "Earth" as I recall. Was that their choice?"

They used it for one of the promos for the BBC series Planet Earth (and it was pretty amazing).

Also, do trailers not count as selling something? Because they used the same song (Hoppípolla) in the trailer for Slumdog Millionaire.

See also: A Short Love Story in Stop Motion.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:54 PM on October 1, 2010


Witness this trailer for Red (the new Bruce Willis movie) which has a knock-off of the theme from Brazil so obvious it made me laugh out loud.

Someone made a trailer didn't use Lux Aeterna or the music from Aliens?
posted by Artw at 7:54 PM on October 1, 2010


I think that was rationale Moby used for licensing every song on Play.

He probably also figured that, since music was his job, it might be nice to be paid enough for it to not have to get a second, non-music job to make ends meet.
posted by The World Famous at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do I smell a Neil Young cover in the works?

Oh god, that would be so awesome.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:58 PM on October 1, 2010


Hey Sigour, Go on!
posted by timsteil at 8:00 PM on October 1, 2010


Witness this trailer for Red (the new Bruce Willis movie) which has a knock-off of the theme from Brazil so obvious it made me laugh out loud.

You mean the movie that used a cheesy cover version of the 1939 Ary Barroso tune "Aquarela do Brasil", aka "Brazil"?
posted by Aquaman at 8:07 PM on October 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, do trailers not count as selling something? Because they used the same song (Hoppípolla) in the trailer for Slumdog Millionaire.

And Children of Men. To be fair, it's an excellent movie.
posted by lalex at 8:09 PM on October 1, 2010


Are they sure it's not just Justin Beiber slowed down 800%?
posted by arto at 8:17 PM on October 1, 2010 [15 favorites]


Are they sure it's not just Justin Beiber slowed down 800%?

I wanted to make this snarky comment so bad. I can't believe it took that many comments!

(I like sigur ros
posted by loquacious at 8:27 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, there is a single band responsible for that annoying ethereal music in every "indie" movie made the last ten years?

"What?"
posted by setanor at 8:29 PM on October 1, 2010


If you don't like Sigur Ros, there is Something Wrong With You.

Seriously. Find a quiet spot. Give this 6:21 of your life ... and if there's still no love, then at least they can't all say we didn't try.
posted by philip-random at 8:37 PM on October 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Or play it in audiosurf.
posted by empath at 8:41 PM on October 1, 2010


i'm not familiar enough with sigar ros to say if someone's copied something note for note - but if they're just riffing off a style of music - a lot of musicians would be in trouble if that was something to get sued for
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 PM on October 1, 2010


Desenho Aquarela do Brasil (with Donald Duck, of course).
posted by ocherdraco at 8:50 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


You mean the movie that used a cheesy cover version of the 1939 Ary Barroso tune "Aquarela do Brasil", aka "Brazil"?

Well no, actually. I mean the movie that took that cheesy 1939 song and brilliantly made it the basis for an entire soundtrack that ranged from tragic to comic to surreal and back again. If you don't like the movie Brazil, there is Something Wrong With You.

The particular track from that movie that I'm talking about is called "The Office" by Michael Kamen, and it's been used in plenty of trailers and commercials. Strangely, a gazillion dollar Bruce Willis vehicle couldn't afford it.
posted by fungible at 8:55 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


but if they're just riffing off a style of music - a lot of musicians would be in trouble if that was something to get sued for

F*** the law. Just kill them.

But seriously. There's homage and there's imitation with a few subtle changes so that the musicologists can't weigh in and find you mathematically guilty. I'm with Sigur Ros on this one. But what to do ... other than bear witness and ummm, hate people: the scum behind the rip-offs and the multitudes who fall for it.

It's enough to make me want to put on some Sex Pistols.
posted by philip-random at 8:59 PM on October 1, 2010


Upon watching that Disney version, that's pretty awesome too.
posted by fungible at 9:00 PM on October 1, 2010


There's an ad running on Canadian TV right now that totally sounds like a Sigur Ros ripoff. The first time I saw it I was like 'WTF, is that Sigur Ros?', so it's funny to see that this is a widespread problem for them.
But damned if I can remember what it is.
posted by Flashman at 9:03 PM on October 1, 2010


If a band are so easily mimicked that you're consistently fooled by the imitators, it may be a sign that they're not as great a band as you thought they were.

I like Sigur Ros but if you make a career out of a ridiculously limited set of musical tropes, what do you expect?
posted by unSane at 9:11 PM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love me some Sigur Ros; man is it great music to blast while driving on the dark highway at night when your wife is nodding off and your kids are asleep in the backseat, as you stare at the red smear of taillights in front of you and flash back to sentimental scenes from your past and sing along with the harmonies in a high, high, girly voice, louder and louder, without abandon, in that kooky made-up language.

But their whole oeuvre is pretty much the same thing: start with a pretty little motif and repeat and repeat and repeat while building to a dramatic, wailing crescendo. And this makes their little faux outrage site all the more fascinating to me: they have this amorphous kind of song structure but they do it over and over; so none of these copycats are really copying any specific riffs or melodies per se, they're just sort of sounding like Sigur Ros. But in a much more abstract way than that fake Doritos Tom Waits guy did and got sued for.
The whole thing is kind of funny to me because it could be either Sigur Ros sort of acknowledging that their songs are so formulaic that it's easy to make sound-alikes of them...or it's that Sigur Ros have such a distinctive sound that it's really obvious when someone tries to copy it.
posted by chococat at 9:12 PM on October 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


Heh, Chococat, I am pretty sure you are describing driving home from the cottage. There is something very Southern Ontario about that whole gestalt, no? Sigur Ros is particularly good in a snowstorm.
posted by unSane at 9:18 PM on October 1, 2010


I dunno, but I've found that over the past ten years each Sigur Ros album is very different.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 PM on October 1, 2010


I think a band is allowed to be formulaic when they invented the formula.
posted by empath at 9:24 PM on October 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


or it's that Sigur Ros have such a distinctive sound that it's really obvious when someone tries to copy it.

The trick, I think, would be for a band to come out with music that sounds just like Sigur Ros but that is somehow more accessible to the mainstream - dumbed-down Sigur Ros, so to speak. In other words, there's an opening out there for a Sigur Ros version of Coldplay, just waiting to be filled. Who will rise (fall?) to the challenge?
posted by The World Famous at 9:25 PM on October 1, 2010


I thought Coldplay was already that.
posted by empath at 9:26 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's what happens when non-creative people think they're creative; they hear someone else's creative work, and it becomes essential for the success of their own work (usually an ad or a short film or somesuch), so that their "vision" cannot be complete without getting that song (or a soundalike.)

I did something like this for a friend's short film -- he was committed to using a famous classical piece from another movie, but there was no way to get the rights, so I composed a soundalike as a favor. Did it all synth-y, though, so it was a satirical homage to the original piece (which is what he really wanted.)

I want a new drug/Ghostbusters!/One that won't make me sick/Ghostbusters!
posted by davejay at 9:28 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought Coldplay was already that.

Nah. Coldplay is the dumbed-down Radiohead. Radiohead for people who thought The Bends was a little too aggressive, liked OK Computer, and then couldn't keep up. Radiohead for people who prefer U2. If someone with major label backing forces Sigur Ros' sound into a Verse/Chorus/Verse/Bridge/Chorus format that works on the radio, they can be Sigur Ros' Coldplay.
posted by The World Famous at 9:40 PM on October 1, 2010 [15 favorites]


so none of these copycats are really copying any specific riffs or melodies per se, they're just sort of sounding like Sigur Ros.

I don't know, the hoppipolla knock-offs were spot on.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:45 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having listened to all nine commercials, I really don't see much similarity to Sigur Ros. I hear none of SR's sophistication, long-form structural dynamics, or, especially, Jónsi Birgisson's distinctively pure mesmerizing voice. These commercials rely on the kind of generic New Agey Word Musicy synth tracks which any LA studio musician could do in his sleep.

Tom Waits and the Chiffons had something to sue about; these guys: not so much.
posted by kozad at 9:54 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The trick, I think, would be for a band to come out with music that sounds just like Sigur Ros but that is somehow more accessible to the mainstream - dumbed-down Sigur Ros, so to speak.

Hah. I read that bit and thought "Oh, like Coldplay?".
posted by dunkadunc at 10:09 PM on October 1, 2010


either Sigur Ros sort of acknowledging that their songs are so formulaic that it's easy to make sound-alikes of them...or it's that Sigur Ros have such a distinctive sound that it's really obvious when someone tries to copy it.

I'm leaning toward the latter... they can make it sound similar the way any other ad team can get a musician looking for work to make a soundalike for the Rolling Stones or what have you. It's easy enough to do for a 30 seconds or a minute, while you're watching an ad, but to put together a compelling album (as Sigur Ros has, in my opinion, several times now, though of course there's filler) is a completely different thing.

Thanks for posting, by the way, this is a hilarious phenomenon.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:14 PM on October 1, 2010


You know why I love Coldplay? The lush sounds of the guitars. Still can't stand U2, though. Just felt like tossing a little derail in, to give Coldplay some love. Carry on.
posted by davejay at 10:19 PM on October 1, 2010


..or it's that Sigur Ros have such a distinctive sound that it's really obvious when someone tries to copy it.

I think this goes for all the greats. How many Led Zeppelin rip-offs have there been over the years? Take some powerful drums, some apocalyptic riffing, a wailing high vocalist, maybe throw in the odd acoustic bit ... But what they always miss (and it's powerfully obvious to anyone who actually listens) is that Led Zeppelin didn't just come up with their sound one day whilst hanging out in a rehearsal room. It evolved out of years of being passionate for all manner of musics: the blues, psyche-rock, British Isles folk, eastern drones, African rhythms.

I listen to the fakes and all I can think is, where is the love?
posted by philip-random at 10:25 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, all those Ubisoft Prince of Persia ads were just blatantly ripping them off?
I mean, I'm cynical, but I have a hard time believing that.
posted by Pseudonumb at 10:41 PM on October 1, 2010


So, all those Ubisoft Prince of Persia ads yt were just blatantly ripping them off?

Nah, that's Sigur Ros. Sæglópur
posted by philip-random at 10:55 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do what Moby did (does). Since they are going to rip-off your tunes anyway, sell them the original and then give the money you make to charity.
posted by d1rge at 10:56 PM on October 1, 2010


But what they always miss (and it's powerfully obvious to anyone who actually listens) is that Led Zeppelin didn't just come up with their sound one day whilst hanging out in a rehearsal room.

You're right. They didn't come up with their sound one day whilst hanging out in a rehearsal room. They came up with it one day whilst listening to the Jeff Beck Group's Truth album. Although I suppose it's possible they were in a rehearsal room when they were listening to it and decided to rip it off.

I love Led Zeppelin more than almost any other band on earth. But they stole other people's songs without attribution and directly ripped their sound off from Jeff Beck.
posted by The World Famous at 11:08 PM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love Sigur Ros, and I just wanted to chime in and say that I can still sit down and listen to almost the entirety of Coldplay's "Parachutes" album (generally skipping the done-to-death "Yellow") and STILL love it, all these years later. I've never had time for any of their albums since, however.
posted by nevercalm at 11:10 PM on October 1, 2010


I should have known better than to malign Coldplay in a thread about Sigur Ros. To clarify: I don't think Coldplay is a bad band. They're quite good at times, actually, and they do have some great production and tones, as well as well-crafted melodies, etc. It's not that Coldplay's not good. It's that Coldplay's mass appeal is due in large part to the appeal that already existed for Radiohead and the niche that existed for a more radio-friendly, non-confrontational band somewhere between U2 and Radiohead in terms of sound.

Frankly, I wish I could write and produce songs as well as Coldplay. Those who can't do snark, I guess. Sorry.
posted by The World Famous at 11:18 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree with Solon and Thanks. I thought some of the Hoppipola rip-offs were strikingly similar to the original.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 11:37 PM on October 1, 2010


Don't feel bad, The World Famous. I love Sigur Ros, but can't stand Coldplay.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 11:39 PM on October 1, 2010


This thread has convinced me to check out Sigur Ros
posted by hellojed at 12:06 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Led Zeppelin more than almost any other band on earth. But they stole other people's songs without attribution and directly ripped their sound off from Jeff Beck.

Ummm, seeing as how I just about an hour ago finished reading HAMMER OF THE GODS, I feel, for the moment at least, like some kind of Led Zep expert. Which is not to say the Jeff Beck rip-off is absolute bullshit. But it is incomplete info. As I understand it, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were good friends and fellow Yardbirds and as such, they influenced the hell out of each other, and much of the sound of both Beck's Truth and the first Zeppelin album was a reflection of what the Yardbirds were up to in their waning days filtered through Jimi Hendrix and all the other crazy shit that was going on in that period. Hell, Page even played on Truth.

But yes, Truth came out in August 68, two months before Led Zep recorded their first album, a month before they played their first official gig, but they were already jamming together, developing their sound, blowing away people-in-the-know.

I think it's safer to say that hearing Truth lit a fire under Jimmy Page, drove him to get his band into a studio, then on the road and out into the world, and with a vengeance. Because he did consider that sound as much his as anybody else's. And then, of course, it's not as if Led Zep just stood still past that and cranked out one album after another that all sounded alike. They just kept on evolving their sound, brilliantly for the most part.

But they did steal other people's songs, and Jimmy Page was into some fairly weird shit and John Bonham was not someone you'd want to have show up at your daughter's wedding, particularly if there was an open bar.
posted by philip-random at 12:17 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, I agree that Zeppelin totally eclipsed Truth in fairly short order and that, given the Yardbirds background, the influences and developmental stages were not only the same but were actually things that happed when Beck and Page were in the same band together. The big breakthrough that Page took from Truth was the production technique - particularly with regard to the bass and drums and the use of reverse reverb. But he also took You Shook Me - a Willie Dixon song, if memory serves, and put it on Led Zeppelin I in a version that is almost identical to the one on Truth, and he stuck a big chunk of Beck's Bolero - the song on which Page plays some 12-string guitar on Truth - right in the middle of How Many More Times.

Page ripped off Truth, but he made it better and then took it from there to new heights. Beck, meanwhile, went in his own direction, apparently more motivated by his own artistic muse than by commercial aspirations. I also suspect that Beck was not as gifted a bandleader as Page in terms of rallying the troops in a common musical cause. And Page was willing to allow himself to be overshadowed - at least superficially - by a vocalist, whereas Beck didn't go that way. Just imagine what the '70s would have sounded like if there had been a solid, consistent Jeff Beck Group consisting of Beck, Stewart, Ronnie Wood on bass and Mickey Waller or Carmine Appice on drums. Heck, even Keith Moon, who played on two of the songs on Truth, would have given Zeppelin a run for its money as the most bombastic blues rock band ever.

The Led Zeppelin sound - often imitated after the fact - was not really invented by Led Zeppelin. It was invented by a huge group of English musicians who all played together in a bunch of different bands - especially the Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck group (including John Paul Jones). Zeppelin was just the one band that a) put that sound together at the right place and the right time, and b) held it together long enough and well enough for it to stick commercially. Plus, the name "Led Zeppelin" is just a lot better than "The Jeff Beck Group."
posted by The World Famous at 12:35 AM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Go read Lawrence Lessig's review of The Social Network in which he discusses whether or not it is possible to steal an idea (spoiler alert: It's not). You can't patent sounding kinda like Sigúr Rós.

Does a guy who makes a really good chair owe money to anyone who ever made a chair? No? Then why does someone who makes a really mediocre chair owe money to someone who made a really awesome chair?
posted by sveskemus at 2:40 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh. As if I needed another reason to despise the ad industry.
posted by Decani at 2:52 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't feel bad, The World Famous. I love Sigur Ros, but can't stand Coldplay.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 7:39 AM on October 2


That's just normal for a person with decent musical taste and discernment, I'd have thought.
posted by Decani at 2:54 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, several HOURS into a thread about a many MeFites' favourite band and nobody has said that they suck yet..

Sloppy, Metafilter. Sloppy.
posted by unSane at 4:31 AM on October 2, 2010


Also, Coldplay suck hugely, apart from Parachutes, which only sucks mildly. My wife however did sit next to Chris Martin at the opening of a movie that Gwinnie was in (*polishes fingernails*) and was very, um, struck by him.

(Coldplay ripped off Travis as well as Radiohead).

I always think of Muse as a sped up Sigur Ros, with the bombast sped up too.
posted by unSane at 4:34 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can see how these guys would be asked to sell their souls.
They have a winning formula of starting songs like a child's lullaby and ending with a unifying anthem. Who can resist that assault of visceral pleasure?
Their music is perfectly designed for an Audi-diaper-pro biotic-anti-depressant-MADD spot.
posted by DonnyMac at 4:47 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously, 'Go', not quite by Moby.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 5:35 AM on October 2, 2010


There is precedent for them to sue. Especially if they were approached, and declined. Ghostbusters is the case often cited. From Wiki: In autumn 1984 Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. for plagiarism, claiming that Parker stole the melody from his 1983 song "I Want A New Drug". Lewis had been approached to compose the main theme song for the movie, but he declined due to his work on the soundtrack for Back to the Future. The two musicians settled out of court. It was reported in 2001 that Lewis allegedly breached an agreement not to mention the original suit, doing so on VH1's Behind the Music.[34]
posted by Gungho at 5:38 AM on October 2, 2010


also Queen and Vanilla Ice.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:07 AM on October 2, 2010


> Coldplay ripped off Travis

Well, they're both bands your mum likes.
(was the "Travis - the band your mum likes" just a meme for snarky Glasgow musos in the mid-90s, or did it get more currency?)
posted by scruss at 6:20 AM on October 2, 2010


For us snarky London musos in the mid-90s it was 'music to walk to'.

For some strange reason iTunes decided to randomly put a Travis album on my iPhone and I have yet to delete it because there's a sort of terrible pleasuring in realizing anew each time I hit a song from it on shuffle exactly how bad they are/were.
posted by unSane at 6:30 AM on October 2, 2010


Go read Lawrence Lessig's review of The Social Network in which he discusses whether or not it is possible to steal an idea (spoiler alert: It's not). You can't patent sounding kinda like Sigúr Rós.

Does a guy who makes a really good chair owe money to anyone who ever made a chair? No? Then why does someone who makes a really mediocre chair owe money to someone who made a really awesome chair?


I don't think that's the point he was trying to make in that article. The main point he was making was that the most remarkable thing about Facebook is that Zuckerberg was able to create it without needing the permission of an established industry. He does say that the American judicial system is "random and inefficient," but that is far from saying that it is impossible to steal an idea. In fact, he says, "We can’t know enough from the film to know whether there was actually any substantial legal claim here." Which seems to indicate that in a different case somebody might be able to claim that somebody else stole their idea and it would be a legitimate claim. Otherwise, he would be arguing that an entire field of law (intellectual property law) shouldn't even exist.
posted by ekroh at 7:03 AM on October 2, 2010


But he also took You Shook Me - a Willie Dixon song, if memory serves, and put it on Led Zeppelin I in a version that is almost identical to the one on Truth

the original by muddy

note that jimmy page copies some of the slide work note for note

willie dixon's 1970 version

by the way, john paul jones played organ on jeff beck's version

jeff beck live

this just isn't as good as zeppelin - it's not even close (69 live)

i'm well aware that led zeppelin stole a lot of things in the early days, but they didn't steal this from jeff beck - it's like saying aretha franklin stole "respect" from the remnants

it's pretty bad when you've got rod stewart in a band and you still can't make it work
posted by pyramid termite at 7:08 AM on October 2, 2010


"sing along with the harmonies in a high, high, girly voice, louder and louder, without abandon, in that kooky made-up language."

You mean Icelandic?
posted by klangklangston at 7:27 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


"sing along with the harmonies in a high, high, girly voice, louder and louder, without abandon, in that kooky made-up language."

You mean Icelandic?


The album ( ) is in an made-up language, the rest are in Icelandic. Kinda common misconception that they're all made up, but it's just the one.
posted by sonika at 7:38 AM on October 2, 2010


There's a rule in our house that you have to drink whenever you hear Sigur Ros used on the BBC. I've finished some documentaries absolutely shit-faced.
posted by bright cold day at 7:46 AM on October 2, 2010


I can still sit down and listen to almost the entirety of Coldplay's "Parachutes" album (generally skipping the done-to-death "Yellow") and STILL love it, all these years later.

That's the only Coldplay album I've ever listened to, and I only listened to it once. While on mushrooms. As far as I'm concerned, it's the greatest album ever made, but I will never listen to it again, because I don't want to ruin my memory of it.
posted by empath at 7:48 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


There should be a rule on MetaFilter that if you say "Your Favourite Band Sucks", you then have to name your own favourite band.

E.g., "Sigur Ros sucks; Bare Naked Ladies are so much better."
posted by KokuRyu at 7:51 AM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Barenaked Ladies sucks; Goatwhore is so much better."

I like this game!
posted by spinifex23 at 8:31 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Goatwhore are sellouts. Anal Cunt for life.
posted by empath at 8:33 AM on October 2, 2010


There's a couple of music sites where I am constantly seeing requests for tracks that "sound a lot like" or "are heavily influenced by" [insert more or less well-known tune too expensive to license], explicitly for use in adverts.

Seems to me that fungible's explanation makes a lot of sense - they've used the track they actually want as a scratch track, knowing perfectly well that there isn't the budget to license it, and knowing also that there are enough hungry musicians out there that someone will be able and willing to produce a close-enough knock-off to preserve enough of the mood to work for the purposes required.
posted by motty at 8:34 AM on October 2, 2010


Actually, this appears to be one of those rare threads about a band where nobody says the subject band sucks.

Of course, nobody is claiming Sigur Ros as their favorite, either.
posted by The World Famous at 8:49 AM on October 2, 2010


Also, when playing the "your favorite band sucks - my favorite is better" game, it should be against the rules to cite a Canadian band in the second slot since to do so will inevitably make the phrase either horrifiyingly and offensively wrong or so undisputably true that it ends the whole game.
posted by The World Famous at 8:55 AM on October 2, 2010


All righty then, I'll do it - ask me who my favorite performers are, and Sigur Ros would be one of the very first bands I name. I do think it's odd there haven't been any "they suck"s; IRL, I hear that all the time...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:59 AM on October 2, 2010


Well no, actually. I mean the movie that took that cheesy 1939 song and brilliantly made it the basis for an entire soundtrack that ranged from tragic to comic to surreal and back again. If you don't like the movie Brazil, there is Something Wrong With You.

There was nothing remotely cheesy about Ary Barroso's composition in the slightest. Reference the sublime and archetypal recorded version by Francisco Alves.

Although Geoff Muldaur did a great job on his cover of the tune for the movie, you can't deny the bouyant cheesiness of his version. There's whistling, for god's sake. Kudos to Michael Kamen for the leitmotif thoughout the movie, of course.

Also, I love this movie more than anything else in the world except for Time Bandits, and will fight you anywhere, anytime to prove it. Nyah.
posted by Aquaman at 9:07 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


A brief clip from TIME BANDITS
posted by philip-random at 9:18 AM on October 2, 2010


you think that's blatant?
allow me to raise: ergo, a german insurance company, is currently running a commercial that is a total copy of high fidelity. I am talking sound AND picture. they just took it all and reshot it.

this video is in german but you'll see what I mean.

the agency that did this is aimaq stolle in berlin, who claim their client knew about this. their version is they presented high fidelity as a mood film and the insurance insisted they'd do it exactly like that. the whole hubbub is pretty extensively discussed here (again in german).
posted by krautland at 9:26 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find this ironic given that Sgur Ros's "Svefn-g-englar" was THE archetypical soundtrack to a "reveal" sequence on those early 2000s era makeover programs that encouraged the western world to re-mortgage itself to buy decking and fibre optic lights (yes I am thinking of you "Homefront from the BBC")
posted by rongorongo at 9:35 AM on October 2, 2010


You politely decline, and then in Oct 2006 you start to see posts on the Adtunes forum

It's a bit ironic that Sigur Ros makes a "fromage" post that obliquely refers to our site (Adtunes) as an example of their frustration, without actually linking to our site or the Adtunes forum thread from 2008 they are referring to:

Audi A4 "Living Room" Truth in Progress

So is Sigur Ros claiming that Audi contacted them in 2006 to create music for a 2009 Audi A4 commercial that didn't start running until 2008? Why is that Sigur Ros post claiming they were contacted in 2006, said no, and then "a few months later" an ad started running they claim is a sound-a-like, started seeing posts about it October 2006, but are using screenshots from our site from a thread and commercial that didn't exist until 2008? Seems a bit odd.

Fans have mistaken their music as being used in ads many times in the past, just as they have with countless other bands (one of which is even mentioned in the very same thread they didn't include a screenshot of.) It's not necessary for that site to post screenshots from a 2008 thread implying it originated in 2006.

Maybe the composer of the award winning Audi song "Notes on Progress" at Elias Arts can better comment on this.
posted by jca at 9:36 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


...it should be against the rules to cite a Canadian band in the second slot since to do so will inevitably make the phrase either horrifiyingly and offensively wrong or so undisputably true that it ends the whole game.

Magma sucks! Chilliwack rules!

Hmmm, I see what you mean.
posted by foonly at 9:45 AM on October 2, 2010


I like both Magma and Chilliwack ... in their place, and there's something I like about that.
posted by philip-random at 9:56 AM on October 2, 2010


The World Famous writes "Also, when playing the 'your favorite band sucks - my favorite is better' game, it should be against the rules to cite a Canadian band in the second slot since to do so will inevitably make the phrase either horrifiyingly and offensively wrong or so undisputably true that it ends the whole game."

But I live under the thumb of CanCon; Canadian bands are all I know.
posted by Mitheral at 9:56 AM on October 2, 2010


But I live under the thumb of CanCon; Canadian bands are all I know.

That's a canundrum, to be sure. At least you'll always have Rush and The Hip, though, who are polarizing enough to pretty much ruin the whole debate everytime.
posted by The World Famous at 10:11 AM on October 2, 2010


But if you sue someone for making an ad that sounds like your music, and are awarded a settlement, isn't that just using your music for advertising, after the fact?

But if you sue someone for running over your child, and are awarded a settlement, isn't that just murdering your child for money, after the fact?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:18 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


directly ripped their sound off from Jeff Beck.

Yes, absolutely, Zeppelin stole a shitload of songs from old African-Americans (for shame!) If you get the CDs of their work, it's quite amazing how many of the songs have been re-credited since I got the original LPs.

But you can't rip off a "sound" in that sense - and frankly, Zep doesn't sound a heck of a lot like Jeff Beck, except that they're both 60s British rock icons - you might as well say that Cream ripped off Zeppelin.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:24 AM on October 2, 2010


frankly, Zep doesn't sound a heck of a lot like Jeff Beck, except that they're both 60s British rock icons

Have you heard Truth? Zeppelin doesn't sound like later Jeff Beck. But I, and many other people, notice a striking resemblance between much of Truth and early Zeppelin.

Now, I'll grant you that Robert Plant didn't sound much like Rod Stewart. But in 1969, one would have expected that to be a bug, not a feature.

But I don't know how anyone familiar with Led Zeppelin can listen Ain't Superstitious and then say that it sounds no more like Zeppelin than Cream does or that the main thing they have in common is that they're both 60s British rock icons. Moreover, Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, and Wheels of Fire all came out before Led Zeppelin I and Clapton was Page and Beck's predecessor in the Yardbirds, so to the extent that there are similarities there, I think it's fair to attribute the influence to Clapton, not Page.

If you created a continuum of every album that came out in 1968 and 1969, with the albums grouped according to similar sound, style, etc., Truth and Led Zeppelin I would be on top of each other, while other notable albums, like those from Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Doors, and others would be elsewhere on the spectrum. Listen to A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, Abbey Road, Wheels of Fire, Electric Ladyland, and The Soft Parade and try to tell me honestly that any of those albums, each of which came out in '68 or '69, sounds like Led Zeppelin I the way that Truth does.
posted by The World Famous at 10:57 AM on October 2, 2010


This is interesting, I never knew Sigur Ros originally got together when Jón Þór Birgisson and Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson were playing in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
posted by jtron at 11:22 AM on October 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


I love Sigur Ros! Every time I have insomnia, I listen to them for about a minute. Then I go to sleep like someone pulled out my battery pack. It's like magic!
posted by double block and bleed at 11:35 AM on October 2, 2010


Why don't they just take the money? I mean, not to sound like i am promoting "selling out" but no one BUYS music anymore, and touring cost keep going up to the point that if you look at summer "touring" schedules a lot of bands are just festival hopping from Lallapalooza to bumpershoot to choachella to ACL to Voodoo to whatever new festival the next city in line is thinking up for next year.good christ, to quote steve miller band "take the money and run." Atleast they would then benefit.

I mean come on, bands no one would have heard of any other way, like matt and kim and their bacardi commercial with Daylight, or the slow club's thinking, drinking, sinking feeling and the lays add, the countless target commercials with other "twee" bands that are probably getting paid to be musicians and making a name for themselves through music. Music on ads has become such a big deal they put the MTV bugs on the side on some. companies offer free downloads of the song if you go to their website (shiny toy guns cover of "Burning for you" i believe, that "you are 16 going on 17" cover for state farm) . THis is exposure, come on.

I mean, no offense to sigour ros or their fans, but i listened to the first rip-off on this page, and that music seemed like it was made for that piece (even if it was, in a way the other way around). I mean you make ultra-loungish- lyric-less pieces that seem to beg for visuals (a writer in one of my writing groups recently did this same thing with one of his short stories).

And plenty of tv shows that can't afford music just do "sound-a-likes" some show i used to watch or was forced to watch that i can't remember had a great "hey ya" rip-off that was just hilarious they would play during segues. There is a cellphone ad right now with the absolute best "I'm yours" cover/rip-off. It's on a piano and right after about a bar of the actual song it just breaks into a different melody for a bar before returning. Genius in it's own sick, Frankenstein way.
posted by djduckie at 12:15 PM on October 2, 2010


I don't think it's that Sigur Ros refuses to sell out. They seem content to sell out in the form of licensing their music for sync with things like movie trailers and the like, but unwilling to license for use endorsing a specific tangible product. From a purely economic and marketing perspective, there may be some wisdom there, since it makes it less likely that people will hear Sigur Ros' music and think "oh, it's the erectile dysfunction medicine music!" or whatever, which would hurt the group's overall economic prospects.
posted by The World Famous at 12:45 PM on October 2, 2010


Why don't they just take the money?

You may be surprised to learn this, but some people have beliefs and morals and try to live their lives according to those beliefs and morals. Some people even hold to their beliefs when they are offered money to break them! I mean, come on, right?
posted by ssg at 12:48 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


You may be surprised to learn this, but some people have beliefs and morals and try to live their lives according to those beliefs and morals. Some people even hold to their beliefs when they are offered money to break them! I mean, come on, right?

I don't see how it's a moral issue, and plenty of people have beliefs that tell them to do really stupid thingsf, that doesn't mean their beliefs are right. What are theirs? They obviously aren't communist. I don't see how being more visible in a market that is hurting pretty badly diminishes their brand any.
Their beliefs got them ripped off, while people think it is them (diminishing their brand in their opinion) with no recourse and nothing to show for it. Had they allowed the song to get used they would get an initial payment, residual checks for the run of the ad, and possibly new interest in their music. I'm a pretty big music snob in my own right, but at the same time i don't think any less of musicians that put their songs in ads. How else are they supposed to get theirs these days? I don't see the harm i guess is what i am saying, and i don't see what belief would be worth making yourself a victim. Other people have done commercials without sacrificing artistic integrity. No one talks bad about Martin Scorcesi and he directed a credit card ad.

what i am saying that if the options are get paid to let them use your song, or have them make something that sounds enough like your song that people think it's you anyway, the better option seems to be to take the money. This isn't new. Ghostbusters wanted "I want a new drug" Huey lewis said no, Ray parker Jr. was called in. Huey Lewis learned his lesson (sued parker and won, but not my point) and accepted Back to the Future.

On the same hand I can see not wanting to do every product offered. Of course Twisted Sister has no problem with that, they have sold everything from Credit Cards to tampons. Not going to take it indeed.
posted by djduckie at 2:14 PM on October 2, 2010


I could have sworn they used a Sigur Ros song in Vanilla Sky.
posted by Thistledown at 2:20 PM on October 2, 2010



I could have sworn they used a Sigur Ros song in Vanilla Sky.


They do, and it is a terrible song.
posted by keli at 2:22 PM on October 2, 2010


Meh. If they are already making as much money as they need and/or want from their music, I think it's admirable that they don't go after every available buck.
posted by The World Famous at 2:23 PM on October 2, 2010


You may be surprised to learn this, but some people have beliefs and morals and try to live their lives according to those beliefs and morals. Some people even hold to their beliefs when they are offered money to break them! I mean, come on, right?

yeah, imagine people selling their labor, or the fruits of their labor to corporations - can you imagine what the world would be like if most people did that?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:53 PM on October 2, 2010


yeah, imagine people selling their labor, or the fruits of their labor to corporations - can you imagine what the world would be like if most people did that?

is this an argument for the inherent decency and goodness of the world?
posted by philip-random at 4:18 PM on October 2, 2010


Anal Cunt suck. The New Pornographers for ever!
posted by unSane at 4:33 PM on October 2, 2010


If you want my opinion, they should take the damn money and let their songs be used in advertisements. This kind of thing is going to happen anyway, and it looks like the ads fool even occasional sigur ros listeners like myself. On the plus side, they would have more money!
posted by tehloki at 7:45 PM on October 2, 2010


tehloki, their songs are used in advertisements - just not the specific advertisements at issue in the post. Sigur Ros is apparently not opposed to sync licensing, but they are selective in what they license their music for.
posted by The World Famous at 7:52 PM on October 2, 2010


What turns my stomach may not turn yours.

Say Glen Beck wants to use your rousing rocker as his new theme, or Rush Limbaugh. You might have serious issues with that. Myself, I don't view those two much differently than I view Coca Cola, or Disney, or Red Bull, or Audi, or f***ing Mac (even though I own one) -- they're all, in their way, the enemy, foisting a culture of profit-driven greed and brainless consumption that I take issue with.

Can I not just say no to the whole f***ing lot of them?
posted by philip-random at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, write some songs that people want to use in ads, and go nuts. In the meantime, SR can do what they fuck they like with their own music.
posted by unSane at 8:17 PM on October 2, 2010


This happens to creative people in all areas, not just musicians. It's largely for the reason fungible cited above. (Editor/designer/composer) uses a temporary (scratch track/clip art/stock footage) to sell an idea, (director/producer/copywriter) falls in love with it, but (agency/client/studio) can't afford to pay for the real thing, so they hire a stringer to create a (soundalike/lookalike).

Independent animator Don Hertzfeldt tells a similar story in a way I always found very entertaining.

A related story, though very different from the above scenario: I actually worked on a movie for which a beautiful Sigur Rós song was used as the temporary scratch track for a pivotal scene. We all loved it while we were working on it, and couldn't imagine anything else taking its place. And one of the directors had a relationship with the band, so there was actually a good chance it might end up in the final cut. But the film already had a composer, a very good one, who was doing the entire score, and he wanted to take a crack at creating something for that scene himself. In the end it was his music that made it into the film. (I have to admit I'm still attached to the Sigur Rós song. But as a consolation prize, we did at least get a really sweet Jónsi track for the end credits!)
posted by otherthings_ at 9:10 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I not just say no to the whole f***ing lot of them?

sure, but then maybe don't complain that they are using a sound alike.
posted by djduckie at 11:43 PM on October 2, 2010


Actually, I reserve the right to not just complain but wage war (culturally speaking, of course). You use me. I'll figure out a way to use you.
posted by philip-random at 11:52 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


djduckie: I don't see how it's a moral issue, and plenty of people have beliefs that tell them to do really stupid thingsf, that doesn't mean their beliefs are right.

Well, if you don't agree with their stance, just go ahead and clearly disagree. Saying that some people have beliefs that you think are wrong is neither here nor there.

Their beliefs got them ripped off
i don't see what belief would be worth making yourself a victim.

Don't blame the victim. Sigur Ros aren't victimizing themselves. But in a broader sense, many people hold many beliefs that they follow even if the outcome they end up with is less than ideal for them (from an outside observer's perspective). I'm sure you could come up with a few prominent historical examples if you thought about this for a second.
posted by ssg at 2:28 AM on October 3, 2010


But in a broader sense, many people hold many beliefs that they follow even if the outcome they end up with is less than ideal for them (from an outside observer's perspective).

I believe it's called a code (maybe ethical, maybe moral, maybe political), the purpose of which is make one's journey through the apparent chaos of the world (moral, ethical, political) more effective, more productive, more purposeful. If you don't get it (and yes, djduckie, I'm thinking of you here), perhaps it's time to move out of the shallow water.
posted by philip-random at 11:14 AM on October 3, 2010


Just saw an Audi ad that uses the "Dream Police" by Cheap trick as the "green police".

Have to say i found it clever.
posted by djduckie at 11:29 AM on October 3, 2010


Just saw an Audi ad that uses the "Dream Police" by Cheap trick as the "green police".

Have to say i found it clever.


Given the company's history and the history of the term "Green Police" in Germany, maybe it wasn't so clever.

But then again, do you know who else has a "Green Police?" That's right.
posted by The World Famous at 4:07 PM on October 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anal Cunt suck.

There's no way that anything that moronically, HS athletically, fratboy dumbasserifacally obvious could ever, ever be good. This will forever fall under "utter band name fail."
posted by nevercalm at 8:12 PM on October 3, 2010


I think they might have something other than money or abstract principle in mind here. I can tell their music comes from an intensely pure, personal, probably spiritual place. It might actually hurt their souls to see their music used for purposes they don't agree with (i.e., companies tricking consumers into thinking their brands come from a similarly pure, personal, possibly spiritual place.)

This would also explain why the places I have heard genuine Sigur Ros music - Planet Earth, The Life Aquatic - actually have some artistic merit and aren't just trying to get you to mindlessly consume.
posted by naju at 8:52 AM on October 4, 2010


Penny Arcade Downloadable Content, 5/4/07:

Jerry: We opened for a band, when we used to play at that bar?

Mike: Ichabod's?

Jerry: Yeah, Ichabod's Tavern.

Mike: That was a shithole.

Jerry: We opened for Anal Cunt.

Mike: That was the name of the band? Were they a folk group?

Jerry: I'm just gonna say, their name did not appear on the marquee.

Mike: Yeah, probably. You're driving down Division Street, "Tonight, one night only! Anal Cunt!"

Jerry: "How you doing, Seattle!?"

Mike: Were they cool?

Jerry: "We're Anal Cunt."

Mike: How could you say that on stage? "Thank you! We are Anal Cunt!"

Jerry: "Anal Cunt loves you!"

Mike: Are you going to buy a shirt with that? I mean, I bet their merchandising side is just...

Jerry: "You know what, we are not moving units, guys."

Mike: "We are not selling shirts, guys. I don't know what the problem is."

Jerry: "Look at these Q1 numbers."

Mike: But here's the other thing. What name did that beat out?

Jerry: I think they changed it... I think they had multiple variations on that theme.

Mike: "Butt Cunt."

Jerry: Listen, I'm... I'm not those guys.

Mike: "Ass Twat."

Jerry: I'm not those guys, and I don't know.

Mike: Were they good?

Jerry: No. No, they weren't. The best part about them was their name. And then only in retrospect.

Mike: Right, 15 years later.

Jerry: At the time, seriously, and it's like, you might not like that name, but you're opening for Anal Cunt.

Mike: What does that say about you?

Jerry: Exactly, exactly. You stand in the alley and think hard about the road that led you here.
posted by Errant at 3:52 PM on October 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let me ask you something. If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 8:29 PM on October 4, 2010


"Anal Cunt" is a description of a particular type of person. It's not just two random naughty words jammed together.

It took me twenty years to realize that.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:38 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq, you may have overthought this particular plate of genitalia. According to Wikipedia, 'The name Anal Cunt came from [Anal Cunt frontman] Seth Putnam's attempt "to get the most offensive, stupid, dumb, etc name possible"'
posted by unSane at 9:42 PM on October 4, 2010


Admit it, you want to call me a rude name.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:22 PM on October 4, 2010


Silly cnut.
posted by unSane at 4:45 AM on October 5, 2010


Update from Sigur Ros' website: homage or fromage? part deux

What's Spanish for insurance?
posted by bright cold day at 11:08 AM on October 5, 2010


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