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?”
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)).
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/ ]