Did The Offspring Rip-Off The Foo Fighters?

No. The answer is no (in case you’re only here to scroll down to the bottom).

Now let’s discuss why…

There are a lot of accusations thrown around concerning one musician or another ripping-off somebody else’s song. And while this certainly happens sometimes (looking at you, Black Eyed Peas), most of the time it’s simply a case of reasonable overlap.

There are only seven basic notes/chords (A through G) and their sharps and flats (and since sharps are other chords’ flats (ex: A# is Bb) that’s still not as many as you’d think). Sure you can do all sorts of bendy stuff, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, distortion and awesome windmills to distract people from the fact that you've never really studied music, but you’re still only left with A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G and G#.

That’s it. Twelve basic notes.

Yes, yes – when it comes to guitar/piano chords there are also fifths, sevenths, minors and things diminished, but we’re talking about rock stars here, not scientists (and I’m neither, so I’m not going to count all those for you). The point is that they’re finite.

A finite (1000?) amount of chords and chord progressions for the endless amount of music mankind has, is and will eventually make. That's one small, highly efficient well we've been drawing from.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t pick up my guitar, strum a few random D-chords and hear some old song in the rhythm… At which point I run to my girlfriend, yell “Look what I can play!” and jam one loud D while her and the cats stare at each other, asking “Why do we still hang out with this guy?”

Now…

I’ve heard quite a bit about how Green Day’s “Brain Stew” supposedly swipes the riff from Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4”.

What’s going on here, though, is that the progression is a simple walk down the fretboard: A, G, F#, F, E minor. Using conventional punk power-chords, you’re literally playing every fret except the fourth on your way down – 5th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st and open Emin. And I guarantee you that every single person who has ever picked up a guitar for more than a day has randomly played that without thinking once about Chicago (the band OR the city).

What makes the two songs different is obvious: a pause here, an emphasis there, plenty of horns and two generations worth of different drugs.

The latest case of Did They Swipe the Song? is Offspring vs. Foo Fighters (battled in the YouTube comments section between the people who think the song was stolen and people who think those people are mentally deficient, born of ugly mothers and should cease to exist in a plethora of either slow and painful or ridiculously explosive ways (their words, not mine)).

Apparently The Offspring’s new single “Days Go By” sounds a bit like the Foo’s “Times Like These”.

Do they? Meh… A little.

The newer “Days Go By” (basically E/D/A/E with a D/A/E/B chorus) contains a few similar chords to the Foo track (D/Am7/C/Em7 with a C/Em7/D chorus). Basically they are booth centered around A, D and E (key of A).

If you think they sound alike, what you’re probably hearing is the gentle production of a reflective pop-rock song and a guy who usually screams holding back just a little. When it comes to radio rock, the "wall-of-sound" production (turning down certain instruments and blending them) is going to make a few of the verse/chorus/verse songs sound the same. Especially if they have similar chords. (Not hating on either song. I dig both just fine.)

But The Offspring’s chord progression is so simple (I had it figured out by the time the first chorus came around), I can't begin to wrap my mind around why a band that has made so much money in the biz would now need to steal E/D/A/E. They already knew about that.

There are certain chords that just fit together well and are used over and over and over in music -- like how the Pachelbel's Canon progression is used here, a little slower here and in the chorus here. See how different that can sound? Weird. You'll hear E and A paired everywhere (CCR's entire catalog might be in G).

So there you go.

Oh, and stop trolling YouTube. Nobody likes that.

[ Here’s a website that has a whole bunch of these, in case you wanna find a real one: http://www.thatsongsoundslike.com/ ]

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    Try the intro on The Donnas "Fall Behind Me" (2004) along with these as well
    http://www.thatsongsoundslike.com/2010/10/26/foo-fighters-vs-the-donnas/

  • In reply to Keith Hopkin:

    That's an excellent example of what i'm talking about bro. Both soloists are obviously noodling around on the middle two strings (G and D -- gold for soloing) of their guitar. They are both probably around the tenth fret, too, from what I can tell. The differences are in the rhythms and breaks. They're definitely similar, but simple enough that I wouldn't begin to think that Dave Grohl swiped that riff.

  • "At which point I run to my girlfriend, yell “Look what I can play!” and jam one loud D while her and the cats stare at each other, asking “Why do we still hang out with this guy?”
    I love this quote! Totally cracked me up!
    Sound like they are trying something new actually, for The Offspring.

  • In reply to radstarr:

    Haha... You know what I'm talkin bout, then!?

    Yeah, this does sound different from the Offspring that i recall. But not ridiculously so. Man, I dug those dudes as a punk-ass teenager.

  • fb_avatar

    You want to talk about rip offs? go listen to anything by Bob Mould, and then go and listen to the Foo Fighters. They ripped their entire sound off of Mr Mould. And really, nobody on this planet would know or care about the Foo Fighters if Dave hadn't drummed for Nirvana. I enjoyed your article, stick with the guitar and soon enough those cats will be falling at your feet when you strum that D chord.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUf1sObmhr8

  • In reply to Matthew Connolly:

    Not a bad catch there, Matthew. I dig that Sugar sound. Hadn't listened to them much yet.

    Rock is always progressively building off the past, imo. If you wanna rock out, people are gonna compare you to the Shakespeare's of the past because we've all got the same basic amps and guitars. Makes it inevitable. Your FF point isn't untrue, but i still respect anyone's ability to write that many catchy hooks and lyrics throughout the years (except for the boy bands).

    The only way to stand out is to do something truly weird, like my favorite Grohl song ever right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGpRD2bLxY0 .... ;-)

    And thanks, bro. I love D. It's .... flexible.

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