Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Blurred Lines - Got To Give It Up

I still remember my impression when I first read about this case and listened to both song one after another. Even tough I thought I belived to have a strong skill to find similarities between songs this pair made me sweat. I listened to both songs again  and again, and asked myself where are the similar melodies? Then I obtained and read the related expert analyses. I've found so many points in these to criticize that I finally could not resist writing my own analysis. 
The analysis is completed with an appendix: a third party song example with a constellation of similarities with Blurred Lines - showing that a constellation without melodic similarity does not prove anything.
My judgement: no infringement, inspiratrion yes.
+ point:
Got To Give It Up party experts testimoned about the rap/parlando section starting exactly in the 73rd bar in both song (not counting the intros). She opined that this is a "red flag" evidence that the Blurred songwriters used GTGIU as a template (regardless of the very different sequence of sections). She testimoned that this coincidence is something she had never seen anywhere else before (for 25 years). For the precise quotes read testimony here (page 51).  

My comment:
Mainstream pop music predominantly uses 8 / 16 bar sections. The percentage of this is over 99%. Starting a section in the 73rd bar is like starting that particular section in the 9th eight-bar block.
The rap section in BL is functionally similar to a traditional bridge in the so-called "one bridge modell". The parlando section in GTGIU too. The traditional placement of these non-returning bridge sections is roughly around the 2/3 of the song. The 73rd bar is probably one of the most probable starting point of Bridge section in a song using the one-bridge template and having a tempo around 120 BPM (100-140).
Note that since GTGIU is significantly longer, the timing in that song is closer to the middle.
I started a quest for the 73th bar. "Are You Lonesome Tonight" was the first song to check with its legendary parlando sectionn. It starts in the 37th bar (36 + 1). Then I started to browse among "singer feat. rapper" kind of songs. First of these was Dark Horse by Katy Perry: 77th bar. They used an extra 4-bar phrase... The second result was California Gurls (Katy Perry). The rap section starts *** drumroll *** exactly in the 73rd bar! I stopped the quest here. I think the "three attempt / 1 result" is closer to the truth than the "no other example else seen for 25 years". Unfortunately there was nobody in the courtroom to point this (and other similar points) out.

+ point:
An interesting topic of the above linked testimony was about the mash-up tests (page 172-182). Note how the GTGIU expert avoided to regret the shortage of the mash-up tests. Unfortunately again: there was no one in the courtroom to force out this admission.

+ point:
Check out another sound-alike song for BL:
Double Trouble ft Rebel Mc - Just Keep Rockin'
"The copyed elements":
- backbeat chords on "Rhodes"
- only two chords alternating,
- "hoo" vocals
- rap,
- the rhythm of cowbell in BL = the rhythm of vocal percussion in JKR.
- Melodic similarity: there is only one melodic hook in JKR. It accidentally shows
  a 3,04 similarity index with the "signature phrase" motif, higher than with GTGIU (2,83).
- On the video appears three gents as performers and a bicycling lady.

This is a constellation of elements that you won't find in any other songs.

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