Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Plagiarism or homage?

COMPARE THE CHORUSES. In the first song, you'll hear it at :30 and in the second, at 1:20. Besides a half-step difference in pitch and different bass lines under them, the vocal parts are nearly identical.

The first, from '82, is  written by Joey Gallo and Kevin Spencer, produced by Leon Sylvers III, and sung by the sweet-voiced Carrie Lucas. Sylvers additionally wrote and produced hits for the Whispers, Shalamar, Lakeside, and Midnight Starr, all labelmates at Solar Records (which was co-founded by Don Cornelius of Soul Train fame).

 The second song, from '89, is credited to Gene Griffin and performed by Today. Production was by Griffin's protege, a then up-and-coming Harlem music wunderkind named Teddy Riley.

It should be noted that, aside from the chorus melody/harmony, the songs are different, right down to instrumentation and recording technique. "Show Me" is classic early '80s dance funk: smart but simple drum pattern, everything perfectly in the pocket, and the kind of bass line that makes you miss bass lines; the band is the same crack studio team that was behind the Whispers.  

"Girl" features the patented synthesized, layered, drum-machined, stuttering-digital-sample- studded, driving and infectious sound that Riley invented and dubbed "New Jack Swing" -- the music I was doin' the "Running Man" to back in high school.
The two songs differ lyrically too. Whereas Griffin/Riley/Today are all about layin' down the mack and romancing their target, the original song is all about pre-AIDS-era frankness: don't bullshit me about romance when all we really want is to get down.

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