Ripping off songs is nothing new, particularly in the world of advertising (see this year’s cases for Beach House and John Butler Trio), and who can ignore Delta famously cribbing ‘no-names’ Arcade Fire? (not us, we grilled her for our Sunday Roast)
But the latest case of musical rip-offery is a particularly sticky case. Enter US pop TV band Big Time Rush, a Californian boy band formed as the winners of a Nickelodeon produced television series of the same name, who have just released their new single and video for a track called “Windows Down”.
Described as a ‘summertime anthem’, “Windows Down” shamelessly rips off Blur’s “Song 2” – drumbeat, guitar riff, ‘woo-hoos’ and all – while giving it a slick dose of processed pop and lyrics about partying hard. While Examiner reports that the track “samples” one of Brit-pop’s most iconic anthems, that would suggest that Blur either licensed the use of their track (unlikely) or that they’re being paid royalties for its use (even more unlikely).
A little bit of digging turns up some even juicier information. Not only is it unclear if Blur had any hand in Big Time Rush’s sugary single, but that in fact, that “Windows Down” is actually a re-write of a tune sold to the pop group by none other than trash-mistress Ke$ha.
According to a report from Gigwise from back in May, Ke$ha was ‘chanelling’ Blur for a leaked track that turned up online called simply “Woo Hoo”. Featuring Ke$ha singing party-baiting lines such as “like we just don’t give a fuck/throw them up, throw them up” over Blur’s infamous hook. Supposedly leaked from demoes the singer was recording for her upcoming sophomore album, “Woo Hoo” was indication that Ke$ha was “aiming for a rock direction” for album number two. Somewhere along the line though, she (or her label) sold/gave the instrumental rights of her track to Big Time Rush.
Of course, since Ke$ha’s original was a leak and a working demo for a track that was eventually shelved, it’s unclear – scratch that – improbable that the pop diva acquired the necessary licensing from the British quartet for “Song 2” before handing it off to Big Time Rush.
If any money has indeed changed hands between Ke$ha and Big Time Rush, legal action could get very messy indeed.
Speaking of the new single, Examiner has quoted Kendall Schmidt, one quarter of the reality TV winning group, as remarking that their new Blur-pinching track will appeal to all ages, “I’m 21-years-old and I would blast this thing day in and day out.”
We’d ask you to judge for yourself, but you can hear just how alike Big Time Rush’s “Windows Down” and “Song 2” sound below. In the meantime, you can contemplate what nasty things Damon Albarn is going to say about all this. If he’s not too busy with his own Blur rumour-mongering that is…