When Bonnie Tyler Got Milli Vanillied!
November 17, 2015
Long before my time in radio, I had developed an ear for hearing a song and noticing eerie similarities between it and some other song that had previously been recorded.
And while I heard the similarity to George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" with the Chiffons "He's So Fine," I was never convinced Harrison intentionally or unintentionally borrowed the melody. With so few notes, it's easier to accidentally plagiarize a song than it is to purposely win this week's Powerball.
But in the mid-70's as I was turned onto Cheap Trick, a band that I loved well into the next decade, I noticed a similarity between the first track of their debut album, "Elo Kiddies," to Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Pt. 2."
Later, I'd hear a Maroon 5 song that sounded like one from Cheap Trick, so consider them paid back.
Wicked Shopping Experience
In 1989, in a clothing store in the Rhode Island Mall, I was trying on a pair of Z Cavaricci pants that I ended up buying, and wearing well past the time they were in style... until '92, when Jerry Blair, the king of fashion, called me out on my style. I was the marketing director at WFLZ at the time, and was embarrassed, and never wore them again.
But had he not said anything, I might be wearing them right now, so thank you Jerry.
So, as I tried the Z Cavaricci's on, Milli Vanilli's "All Or Nothing" played on the music system overhead, which back in those days was just a cassette tape that would get updates from a music system, like Muzak.
I started humming "Spinning Wheel" from Blood, Sweat and Tears to this song, which I had never heard before, mostly because it had yet to be released to radio and I was still working in Classic Rock at the time.
Back To The Future
Years later, Milli Vanilli's songwriters would be called in question about the song and the resemblance, and the courts intervened to change writing credits and residual disbursement.
Flash Forward to the Present: It was an exciting week in Nashville, a couple weeks back, with the BMI awards, the ASCAP awards and the CMA's all happening back to back; and Little Big Town won best song of the year for "Girl Crush."
And for the simple fact that listeners and critics alike had called this song out almost immediately for its similarities to Bonnie Tyler's late 70's hit "It's a Heartache," I was surprised that the song could rise above the critics to become number one in Country in the late Spring, and to eventually be named Song of the Year.
I wasn't trying on pants the first time I had ever heard "Girl Crush," but I did notice the extreme similarities enough to sing "It's a Heartache" right along with it. So when Little Big Town went up to receive their award, I envisioned Bonnie Tyler and the song's writers, Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe accepting the award. It was a tremendous acceptance speech, in my head. Congrats guys.
Here Come Da' Judge
Taylor Swift didn't steal nuffin! Judge said, and I agree. Prince neither.
But, I'm not as sure on this one, and I don't know what to do about it, although writing about it will finally let me sleep better at night. Or maybe that's the new CPAP machine I'm getting that will do that. Hey, as long as my wife has a better nights' rest over it all, it doesn't matter where the credit comes from.
Plus, if I'm losing sleep over this thing with Little Big Town, why didn't I get bags under the eye when Jet borrowed from The Who, or Nick Lachey, when he borrowed from Relient K, or The Band Perry for doing their best Steve Earle impression, or Bob Marley for stealing the theme to the Banana Splits, or Mary Mary for doing something so close to Lionel Richie, except shaping a version of his face and head in pottery class?
The video links are there for you to make your own decision.
As for me, I'm on a search for the 2015 equivalent to Z Cavaricci? I'm thinking about buying a pair, whatever it is, and whatever the 2010 version was, I'm probably wearing those right now. I miss Jerry Blair.