August 1, 2008

Music ; Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flatery?


The history of rock 'n' roll is the history of mainstream stars stealing from smarter, artier outsiders. Elvis made black r & b and Southern honky-tonk palatable for white teenagers; Coldplay's Chris Martin lifted everything he could from Radiohead's Thom Yorke.

Because we don't like singling one guy out for a beating, we've compiled a list of some of Martin's light-fingered peers and the artists they got famous imitating.

** The Monkees and the Beatles: Um, yeah. We're guessing you may already be up on this one. But did you know that Michael Nesmith started the whole "pop stars dating avant-garde Japanese artists and alienating their fellow band members" trend? Now you know why Nesmith refused to take part in the 1987 reunion - he wanted HIS Yoko to sing backup.

** KISS and Alice Cooper: You think maybe Paul and Gene were taking notes when Alice Cooper came to town? KISS was founded on Cooper's formula of simple pop metal ("School's Out,""No More Mr. Nice Guy") plus gruesome, theatrical stage antics. All they added was sex appeal (note: not everyone is guaranteed to find Paul Stanley's chest hair sexy).

** Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen: "Tommy used to work on the docks/Union's been on strike/He's down on his luck/It's tough, so tough." Sure Jon, we believe you, you don't even OWN "Born in the U.S.A."

** Poison and Motley Crue: It's shocking to think the Crue was original enough to rip off. But Poison took it all - from the hairspray and mascara to the one big, corny ballad per album. Oh, and the stage names: Rikki Rocket is only slightly less ridiculous than Nikki Sixx.

** The Melvins and Nirvana: Kurt Cobain grew up in the Melvins' hometown, roadied for them occasionally and even auditioned for the band. Thankfully he was rejected and went on to form Nirvana. Cobain dug lots of bands, from the Pixies to Meat Puppets, but he pilfered his best stuff from the Melvins.

** Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam: STP fans - and there are plenty of them - angrily assert the band has its own style and singer Scott Weiland can't help it if his voice is a carbon copy of Eddie Vedder's. But c'mon: Have you listened to "Plush" lately? 'Nuff said.

Originally published by By JED GOTTLIEB.

(c) 2008 Boston Herald. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.