Creativity is an interesting topic to talk about when it comes to music, movies, books, television shows and more. In our society, so many new things are being created and a lot of it is based off of other ideas. That is how it all starts, right? Someone creates something and people build off of their idea to create something new of their own. That here is what we can call remixing. Maybe you have listened to a song or have watched a movie that reminds you of something you have seen or heard before. I know I have multiple times. So, when that happens, is it a remix or a rip-off? What is the difference?
Directly quoted by Kirby Ferguson in “Everything is a Remix”, a remix is “to combine or edit existing materials to produce something new”. However, a rip-off would be taking something or an idea from someone else and not changing a single thing to it. That is plagiarism, which is what a lot of artists tend to do these days. There is nothing wrong with using certain elements from someone else’s song as long as you are making it into something of your own. However, when an artist takes an idea from a song without bothering to change it, I personally do not see the point. If they have the chance to remix, why don’t they? It saves them from a lawsuit. I like talking about this when it comes to music because remixes of other songs are extremely popular and there are tons of artists who make remixes. But, there are also many who rip-off other artists. Let’s jump right in with an example.
Here we have “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga being compared to “Don’t Turn Around” by Ace of Base. Between these two songs, there are similarities noticed between the two which lead people to thinking that Lady Gaga ripped of Ace of Base. In “Alejandro”, from 1:08-1:15, that section sounds extremely similar to “Don’t Turn Around”, which from that song is between 56 seconds to the first minute. Both have a light, almost whispering voice before the beat drops and in “Alejandro” it sounds extremely similar to “Don’t Turn Around”. The beat after that drop does sound a little bit similar as well from Ace of Base however, it does not necessarily mean Lady Gaga ripped of Ace of Base.
Even though those two parts do sound similar, Lady Gaga transformed hers differently where there is a larger drop in the beat in her song and the song becomes sped up compared to “Don’t Turn Around” as it is a much slower tempo. Lady Gaga does incorporate the whispering before the beat drops but adds her own elements to the song, like a faster beat and tempo which makes her song different from “Don’t Turn Around” therefore not making it a rip-off. Then again, Lady Gaga could have been inspired by Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around” which brings in the similarity between the two however, “Alejandro” is still a much different song. The lyrics as well as the meaning of both of the songs are complete opposites as well.
If artists really want to avoid ripping someone off of their song there is a lot they can do. For example, if they are inspired by a song or have a certain section in a song they like, they can choose to sample that in their song, with permission by the artist of course. Taking something from a song but making YOUR own changes to it like adding more bass to the beat or speeding it up, or even mixing it with other elements is a great way to remix something from a song, which easily avoids ripping off songs. The more an artist does that, the more creative they are and who doesn’t like creativity?
Ferguson, Kirby. “Everything Is a Remix Part 1 on Vimeo.” N.p., n.d.