Do You Believe in Plagarism?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Plagiarism: such a vulgar word and ambiguous term when we're talking about music, especially 20th century pop. There have been numerous lawsuits against musicians (usually by other musicians or record companies) claiming that they copied a previously released song. Poor George Harrison was accused of (and later fined for) unintentionally copying the melody of The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" in his hit "My Sweet Lord." In this case, I personally don't think the two songs sound alike enough to cry plagiarism. But earlier today, I discovered two songs that have a portion so similar to each other, I had to listen to one several times in disbelief. They are an unlikely couple: Huey Lewis and the News' "Do You Believe in Love" and Electric Light Orchestra's "Sweet Talking Woman."

First of all, I want to make it clear that I love Huey Lewis and the News, and I'm in no way accusing them of plagiarism. But my discovery is kind of ironic considering Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. over his 1984 "Ghostbusters" theme, claiming that it sounded very similar to the News' "I Want a New Drug." The case was settled out of court, but according to Wikipedia, Parker later sued Lewis for talking about the case on a VH-1: Behind the Music special.

So here's what I are the opening lines in ELO's Sweet Talking Woman (which was released in 1977):
"I was searchin searchin on a one-way street,
I was hopin hopin for a chance to meet."

And here are the opening lines to Lewis' Do You Believe in Love (released in the early 80s):
"I was walking down a one way street
Just a looking for someone to meet."

Yeah, I know lyrics don't mean much; however, the melody and notes during this portion of the ELO song is clearly the same as Lewis' song. I mean, they're eerily similar. Here are some YouTube clips if you want to listen and compare them:

Let me know what you think - is it just me...or just a coincidence?


  1. Spot on!! Just stumbled across this myself. Grew up on Huey Lewis and hadn't heard the ELO song until today. At least not the part in question. Disappointing.

  2. I just assumed that Mutt Lange wrote both songs...

  3. I was an ELO fan when I was a teenager. I remember hearing the Huey Lewis song repeatedly on the radio when it first came out, and every time it bugged me that it sounded like the ELO song.

  4. Without any doubt! It also has "Do Ya" incorporated...another ELO song. It's like 2 ELO songs in one!

  5. Honestly, I couldn't agree more.

  6. Noticed it the first time I heard it.

  7. Yeah. In fact every tune I hear the Huey tune, I fill in the ELO-like backing vocals for them in the matching lines.

    "I was walking (walking) down a one way street
    Just a looking (looking) for someone to meet."

  8. It was originally a Mutt Lange song and was recorded by the band Supercharge. It was called "We Both Believe In Love" back then. You can find it on Youtube.

  9. It was originally written by Mutt Lange and called "We Both Believe In Love." Supercharge recorded it on their Body Rhythm album in 1979. It's on Youtube.

    1. sweet talking woman was released in 1977 though...

    2. sweet talkin woman was released in 1977 though...


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