Songs That Were Total Ripoffs

Voting Rules
Listen to both songs and vote up the ones you think may be too close to the original.

Music plagiarism is big news in almost any era. Sure, Robin Thicke and Pharrell had to shell out $5 million to Marvin Gaye's estate for their "Blurred Lines" infringement and there was the whole Tom Petty/Sam Smith debacle in recent music history, but singers have been ripping off other people's songs since recorded music first came on the scene, and even before that. What are the most blatant ripoff songs that obviously donned music, lyrics, or both from other tracks?

Chances are, your favorite band has either intentionally or purposefully lifted someone else's lyrics or melody - and probably had it done to them as well. While some plagiarism cases are extremely well known (George Harrison ganking the melody of "He's So Fine," or John Fogerty being sued for plagiarizing himself, for example) there are almost limitless examples of songs being plagiarized. Some lawsuits against defendants were unsuccessful, while in other cases, the pilferer got slapped down with huge judgments.

These blatant cases of plagiarism cross genres, decades, and styles, showing that musicians "borrowing" from each other is no rarity. Is your favorite song a rip off of another famous musician? Find out in the list below.

Photo: flickr / CC0

  • 1
    2,081 VOTES

    'Ice Ice Baby' by Vanilla Ice vs. 'Under Pressure' by Queen

    Perhaps the most blatant ripoff on this list, Vanilla Ice was sued by Queen and David Bowie for lifting their riff from "Under Pressure" in his 1989 hit "Ice Ice Baby." Although Vanilla Ice's song was the first hip-hop song to top the Billboard charts, the legacy of the song is tarnished by the pilfered sample.

    All four members of Queen and David Bowie were later credited for the riff, and they were compensated with both money and a writing credit for the song.

    Here's "Ice Ice Baby":

    And now listen to "Under Pressure" - you'll have no trouble spotting the similarities:


    2,081 votes
  • 2
    1,156 VOTES

    'Live While We're Young' by One Direction vs. 'Should I Stay or Should I Go' by The Clash

    Another "homage" to classic rock by One Direction, "Live While We're Young" adopts the iconic opening chords to The Clash's classic "Should I Stay Or Should I Go." Like the band's earlier pilfering of "Baba O'Riley," it serves to draw the ear of older listeners while not being extensive enough to merit a plagiarism claim.

    Well played, boys. Well played. Here's "Live While We're Young":

    And The Clash performing "Should I Stay or Should I Go":

    1,156 votes
  • 3
    924 VOTES

    'Sorry' by Justin Bieber vs. 'Ring the Bell' by White Hinterland

    In 2016, indie artist White Hinterland (whose real name is Casey Dienel) sued Justin Bieber, claiming that his song "Sorry" lifted an eight-second vocal riff from her song, "Ring the Bell." Skrillex, who wrote and produced the song, was also named in the suit. In 2017, White Hinterland dropped the suit.

    Take a listen below to hear for yourself. Check out the beginning riff in Dienel's song:

     And the one in Bieber's:

    924 votes
  • 4
    591 VOTES

    'Dazed and Confused' by Led Zeppelin vs. 'Dazed and Confused' by Jake Holmes

    One could write an entire list just of Led Zeppelin's alleged and confirmed thefts. But maybe the most blatant was in the case of "Dazed and Confused." As the story goes, folk singer Jake Holmes wrote the song in 1967, whereby it was soon covered by The Yardbirds, for whom Holmes was opening. At that time, The Yardbirds featured future Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.

    Page liked the song so much he brought it to the sessions for Led Zeppelin's first album - albeit with new lyrics (based, in turn, on a different set of lyrics for the song, written by The Yardbirds singer Keith Relf) and a slightly altered melody. The song's arrangement remained the same. Page credited himself as the song's sole writer and blew Holmes off when Holmes attempted to contact him a few years later. In essence, Page had taken a hit song and ensured the original writer wouldn't get a nickel out of it.

    Finally, in 2010, Jake Holmes sued Jimmy Page, with the two parties settling out of court. Even now, the song is credited only to Page, with "inspiration" by Holmes.

    Here's the Zeppelin version:

    And here's Holmes's original:

    591 votes
  • 5
    806 VOTES

    'Best Song Ever' by One Direction vs. 'Baba O'Riley' by The Who

    Fans of Brit boy band One Direction took to Twitter in panic, fearing that the group's new single "Best Song Ever" was going to be purged from the Internet due to a lawsuit from Pete Townshend, for ripping off some band they'd never heard of called The Who. 

    While "Best Song Ever" clearly lifts the iconic opening guitar chords from "Baba O'Riley," the rest of the song is totally different, and the band said the lift was done as a tribute. Townshend took it in good humor, saying he liked the song and had no trouble with it.

    "Best Song Ever":

    "Baba O'Riley":


    806 votes
  • 6
    257 VOTES

    'M.O.R.' by Blur vs. 'Boys Keep Swinging' by David Bowie

    Blur's single "M.O.R." (standing for Middle of the Road) hit #15 on the British charts in 1995 - thanks in large part to borrowing the melody, beat, chord progressions, and vocal style of the David Bowie/Brian Eno track "Boys Keep Swinging."

    Blur claimed the song was a tribute to Bowie, but Bowie took Blur to court - and got writing credit for him and Eno.

    Here's "M.O.R." by Blur:

    And David Bowie doing "Boys Keep Swinging":


    257 votes