Elvis Costello has defended pop star Olivia Rodrigo after being accused of lifting one of his guitar riffs.
Brutal, a track from Rodrigo’s number one album, is based on a punk chord sequence that also featured on Costello’s 1978 hit Pump It Up.
But when a Twitter user said Rodrigo’s song was “pretty much a direct lift,” Costello responded: “It’s good for me.
“This is how rock & roll works,” he wrote. “You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a whole new toy.”
He added: “That’s what I did.”
The singer-songwriter also included hashtags referencing Bob Dylan’s classic Subterranean Homesick Blues from 1965, which inspired Pump It Up; and Chuck Berry’s 1956 single Too Much Monkey Business, which influenced Dylan’s song.
You can compare the Costello and Rodrigo tracks below. The guitar riff first appears 14 seconds in Brutal, and at 15 seconds in Pump It Up:
Costello’s relaxed reaction comes despite an increase in music copyright cases in recent years.
Perhaps the most infamous case is that of the hit song Blurred Lines – in which Marvin Gaye’s family accused Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams of plagiarizing Gaye’s song Got to Give It Up.
The controversial jury verdict revealed that Thicke and Williams had copied the “vibe” of Gaye’s 1977 hit – rather than lifting a melody or chord sequence, which is usual for plagiarism.
Since then, stars like Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, and Childish Gambino have all been sued for millions because of similarities between their songs and previous hits.
Others took the precaution of crediting writers who would have a right, even tangential, to protect themselves against legal proceedings.
Notably, Taylor Swift gave Right Said Fred a part of her song Look What You Made Me Do because her chorus melody followed a rhythmic pattern similar to that of their new 1990s hit, I’m Too Sexy.
Rodrigo and his co-writer Daniel Nigro didn’t do the same for Brutal – but it looks like Costello is honored, rather than annoyed, by the hat.
Costello previously cleared the Pump It Up riff to be sampled in Rogue Trader’s 2005 dance hit, Voodoo Child.
Meanwhile, Rodrigo faced separate charges of plagiarism from Courtney Love.
Love pointed out the similarities between the artwork for his band Hole’s 1994 album Live Through This and the footage used to promote Rodrigo’s Sour Prom, a live concert that takes place on Tuesday.
Both images show a prom queen holding flowers as mascara runs down their faces.
“My [album] the cover was my original idea, ”Love wrote on Facebook. “Something you may have to live to acquire?”
“I warned her that I am waiting for her flowers [and] Note.”
Love also shared Sour Prom’s photo on Instagram with the caption: “Spot the difference”, prompting a response from Rodrigo.
“I love you and live this so much,” commented the 18-year-old, to which Love replied: “Olivia – you’re welcome. My favorite florist is in Notting Hill, London! Dm me for deet! looking forward to reading your note! “
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