Fiona Sturges: Copy or not, Gorillaz's song is inferior to Eddy's

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The Independent Online

There is, it has to be said, a certain similarity in the synthesised melody of "Time Warp" to that of Gorillaz's "Stylo". But singer Eddy Grant's request for full credit for the song is pushing it, since in every other respect the two tracks are very different. "Time Warp", which originally appeared in 1982 as a double-A side with Grant's No 1 hit "Electric Avenue", is a quietly mesmerising piece supported by a single, immutable disco beat that itself owes a debt to the dance-floor supremo Giorgio Moroder.

Gorillaz's song is a far more three-dimensional affair, one that takes in 70s disco, 80s synth-pop and 90s dance music, reconfiguring them for a new generation. In contrast to Grant's minimalist approach, "Stylo" has been give the bells and whistles, laden as it is with effects as well as vocal contributions from the US rapper Mos Def and R&B singer Bobby Womack.

Plagiarism has long been one of pop's thornier issues, rearing its head regularly in the era of sampling. While musicians are required to seek the permission of the original artist when sampling or utilising portions of their work (thus ensuring that the original artist gets royalties), there are inevitably times the parties in question fall out. George Harrison, Bee Gees, Nirvana, Mariah Carey and Madonna have all stood accused of profiting from other people's tunes. More recently the guitarist Joe Satriani filed a lawsuit against Coldplay, claiming that their song "Viva La Vida" ripped off his 2004 instrumental track "If I Could Fly".

Whether or not the Grant Vs Gorillaz case becomes a courtroom showdown, it's essentially a win-win situation for Grant who is suddenly a familiar name among Gorillaz's fans. And were it simply a battle to decide which song is better, few could deny that Grant wins hands-down.