I've been reading Popdose lately, partially to bring my pop sensibilities to the twenty-first century, partially because Chad Orzel quoted part of their Mellowmas series and it was too funny. In my readings I came across this comparison of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy" and 4 Non Blondes "What's Up?", both from a pop era with which I am much more familiar. First, this reminded me of a post I wrote awhile ago on Nickelback, about what makes up a song's identity. To be fair to Dw. Dunphy, the melody starts almost identically for McFerrin and 4 Non Blondes, allowing for the shift from reggae beats to a straight four on the floor. But the second half the stanza for "What's Up?" is different, and it is definitely the hook for that song. And, I really like the mashup between these two songs, the juxtaposition of opposite emotions on the same harmonic base appeals to me.
Second, this story reminded me of an NPR story I heard recently about Men At Work getting sued for plagiarizing "Kookaburra" for their song "Down Under." I have a problem with extended copyright in general, because of this sort of nonsense that could impede the creation of new art. Does "Down Under" significantly sample "The Kookaburra Song" (a friggin' 4-bar melody)? You judge (listen to the flute part in the Men At Work piece):
This idea of egregious lawsuits deserves unnecessary censorship (though no one deserves Barney):