Tame Impala - "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards"

UPDATE: Kevin Parker responds: “This is a joke, right?” And the editors of Chilean news site Rata, who made the original allegation, say it was a joke. But Ruiz is not laughing; he tells ESPN Radio Argentina he’s considering a lawsuit.

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Pablo Ruiz is an Argentine pop singer who had his greatest success as a child star in the ’80s. He is not, shall we say, a person you’d imagine to be among the top influences of Australian psych-rockers Tame Impala. But a new YouTube video that’s making the rounds makes a case that Tame Impala ripped off Ruiz’s 1989 single “Oceano” for their Lonerism jam “Feels Like We Only Backwards,” which has essentially become their signature song. It seems like a coincidence, but Tame Impala will be in Argentina later this year, so maybe Ruiz can holler at them about it. Below, check out that video along with Kevin Parker’s first “FLWOGB” demo and some newly announced Tame Impala American tour dates.


(via Faster Louder)

“Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” 1st Demo:

Tour Dates:
11/09 New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre *
11/12 Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Auditorium *
11/13 Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl *
11/15 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater *
11/20 Bogota, CO @ Royal Center
11/22 Santiago, CL @ Placina Espacio Broadway
11/24 Buenos Aires, AR @ BUE Fest
11/26 Rio de Janerio, BR @ Circo Voador
11/28 Sao Paolo, BR @ Popload Festival

* = w/ Delicate Steve

Comments (73)
  1. Not similar enough to warrant any legal action whatsoever. But to his credit, that Pablito guy knows how to rock a popped collar.

  2. Wow, Tame Impala took that cheesy ass bubble gum crap and made into an actually good song? I wish this was true, I’d be so impressed.

  3. LOL. could be a ripoff, could be coincidence.

  4. Are those tour dates for Pablo Ruiz? Asking for a friend…

  5. The only thing remotely similar here is the melody, but even if these songs weren’t juxtaposed, I’d never hear the similarities.

    • um, what else would it be other than the melody? people generally don’t get accused of stealing someone else’s hi-hat sound.

      • Well, the Impala song has different harmonies, a considerably different rhythm (The Impala track is slower, thicker sounding), almost all of the instrumentation. In fact, the harmonies on the Impala song kind of shroud the melody and conceal it. So yeah, there could be things other than the melody.

        • LOL, there are no harmonies on the Tame Impala song. You’re thinking of reverb. Fridmann’s a magician.

          • LOL, you should look up the definition of harmony.

          • You’re 100% correct that there’s no harmony on the Tame Impala track. I love it when people downvote and correct the guy who knows what he’s talking about.

          • um…

            1. The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect.

            There are harmonies because (at least in this song) there is always more than 1 note happening at the same time. I think you guys are thinking of harmonies when used colloquially to mean ‘vocal harmonies’… like Fleet Foxes or The Drifters.

          • boozm – Literally nobody ever uses the word “harmonies” to mean “all the notes happening in a song at the same time”, particularly in an argument about vocal melodies. Whatever dictionary.com tells you, there is absolutely no way that a person talking about “harmonies” in a pop song is referring to the guitar and bass playing underneath the vocal. The word simply is not used that way.

          • Cheap Suit, you and Miguelito1 are not “literally everybody.” If you don’t know much about music, then that’s fine but don’t ponitifcate about how words are employed by folks that do know what they are talking about. Also see Adam Stevenson down a couple of threads for more info.

          • Actually, ifeelpretty for the info

          • yep, cheap_suit – drums actually have pitches too. i guess these trolls are loving them drum harmonies.

          • unregistered33 – I agree with Adam Stevenson’s assessment, but he doesn’t mention anything about harmonies, so what are you talking about?

            If you can find me a single example of a musician ever using the word “harmonies” to refer to the instrumental underneath a vocal, then you will have made your point.

          • ifeelpretty’s assessment looks right too (though I haven’t grabbed a guitar to figure out the chords, I’ll take his word for it). He also doesn’t mention harmonies, because he appears to actually know something about music and recognizes that the Tame Impala track doesn’t have harmonies (at least not in the snippet featured in the Youtube video).

            Honestly, why would you log into a website just to argue with strangers about stuff you don’t understand?

          • Harmony is the sounding of simultaneous pitches. The vocal in this “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” IS somewhat shrouded by the background harmony of the chords sounded by the keyboard/synth that is playing in the same octave with similar timbre as his voice. Stick to pontificating about things you know about please.

          • The Dictionary dot com definition of Musical Harmony:

            a. any simultaneous combination of tones.
            b. the simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm.
            c. the science of the structure, relations, and practical combination of chords.

            Notice the absence of the word “Vocal”. It all relates to the related notes.

          • And I hear harmonies used all the time. Sure, it’s more common among vocalists. But the harmony I was referring to was how the notes acted together. You know…in harmony.

          • Once again, if you’re using dicitonary.com as a reference for musical terminology, it shows you really shouldn’t be participating in the conversation.

            If the word “harmony” is used to mean “literally all of the sounds playing at the same time” then there is no difference between the word “harmony” and the word “song”.

            Once again, I encourage you to link me to a single example of a musician using the word “harmonies” to refer to the entire instrumental backing track. If it’s such common usage, surely you can find one example?

          • just google pop music harmony. the burden of proof is on you since you are arguing that the literal definition is less important than your imagined colloquial definition.

          • Again, I’m not saying it’s a common usage (as I said, it tends to be a vocalist thing), but the way I was referring to it was not at all incorrect, even if uncommon. I also won’t link to it, but instrumental harmony is constantly referred to with older instrumental pieces. Classic songs like Moonlight Serenade (An instrumental piece) are completely built off of instrumental harmonies. Harmonies have nothing to do with vocals, unless you are specifically referring to vocal harmonies. I only used the dictionary definition because a) It’s the commonly and correct definition and b) IT’S WHAT I LEARNED IN MUSIC THEORY CLASS.

            Also, here’s a video explaining basic harmony. It’s explained with instruments: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/understanding-harmony/5311.html

            Also, your definition of “Song” is inherently wrong, because a song has some form of vocal singing in it. Stop arrogantly arguing something that is completely incorrect.

          • Also, here’s a cool one about Pop music specifically. It does cover typical vocal harmonies (The Beach Boys, obviously), but there’s also talk about how specific chords interact with each other in ways that clash and (because it’s pop music, more commonly) don’t clash. I found it when I googled “Pop Music Harmony”.
            http://kris.shaffermusic.com/musicianshipResources/popRockHarmony.html

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • Also, cheapsuit, if you need to “grab a guitar” in order to figure out chord structure of either of these two songs, then you clearly are not in any position to authoritatively make declarations about the colloquial definitions of musical terms.

          • OK, well sorry, I was referring to the instrument notes interacting with the vocal notes, and how that interaction was different. But seriously, all I have left to say is that there is a difference between “Harmony” and “Vocal Harmonies”. Sorry I got testy, I just don’t like being told I know nothing when I’m not even referring to that. Can we all just hug each other now?

          • unregistered33 — OK, so you don’t know what harmonies are, and you think all musicians can identify chord progressions by ear. Thanks for confirming you’re just making all of this up as you go along.

          • Cheapsuit are you for real?

            Anyone who thinks they know so much about music that they are an authority on how people should employ the term “harmony” ought to be able to identify a simple progression of 3 root chords by ear. Otherwise, in addition to looking up “harmony”, I would recommend you also look up the word “irony.”

          • Still waiting on a single example of the word “harmonies” being used in reference to the entire instrumental backing track of a rock/pop song. Send it along when you find it. Thanks!

          • Dude you’re obnoxious…I wasn’t even refering to “The entire instrumental” being a harmony (percussion can’t really harmonize properly, at least basic drums can’t). If you’re still being ignorant as shit (which you are), here is yet another example of a musician (Chilly Gonzales, who works with Daft Punk and more “Rock & Roll” musicians (Ugh)) talking about an instrumental harmony part, specifically how a bass part harmonizes with vocal part, kind of like how the reverberation of instrumentation on the Tame Impala song harmonizes with the lead vocals (He gets to talking about the harmonization at 2:50)

            http://youtu.be/dzKiVjsUEp0

            If that isn’t enough for you, there’s no saving you.

          • Hey I see people are feuding over the word Harmony. In pop music we do tend to refer to both as harmony. You’re supposed to use contextual language cues to figure out what the person means. When you re-arrange someone else’s song to put new chords underneath it but keep the original melody it’s called a reharmonization. So it’s all very close and silly to argue about.

  6. There is only the mildest of similarities between the two songs… no case here.

  7. Is this lawsuit centered around the vocal melody? That’s a hell of a stretch since they’re not even in the same time.

    • But you can hear the resemblance in the melodies right? It’s a little uncanny… not in a way that I think would be legally actionable (I doubt that anyone in Tame Impala had even heard of Pablo Ruiz before this) but just kind of a hilarious coincidence. I want a mash-up.

      • They’re not even the same – it’s only the first part of the vocal melody – the second part of the Argentinian goes to a major instead of a minor, which Impala does – the vocal melody is totally different in the second part of the verse – it’s nonsense. Besides, the vocal melody itself has been used COUNTLESS times in pop songs over the years.

    • They are both in 4/4 in the Key of F and hit some of the same notes. To me thats not much of a similarity.
      The Tame Impala song is F – C – Gm and the Argentinean one is F – Bb – C. Those might look similar on paper but the feel is totally different. Ending on that Gm (the ii of the key) gives the Tame song a beautiful sense of longing and unrest. The other one lacks that because it’s based on the 3 major chords in a key absolutely no emotional unease/conflict (can be generally a great thing too, see every Ramones song). Put one of these in a different key and the similarities would vanish.

  8. Surprisingly close. But yeah, not quite enough to be convincing. Possible cryptomnesia at most.

  9. Hell, I’m not even sure the video is claiming Plagiarism. There’s a similarity there in the melody, but that’s about it.

  10. Nothing to write to your mother, as we say in french…

  11. You can tell that Tampe Imapla inspired all their act out of these lyrics too. “The wind blows hard over the beach, my house is in the sky, near the sun, the water is green coloured, and i have fallen in love with you”. So beautiful

  12. THIS IS UNCONSCIONABLE. lol jk, wait, wouldn’t Elephant be the band’s signature song? Or even Mind Mischief?

    • Elephant is probably they’re most universally popular song (I hear it in advertisements, in grocery stores). Feels Like We Only Go Backwards is probably the most popular song among Tame Impala fans.

      • I’m not so certain. I consider myself a self confessed fan and when Lonerism came out both those songs were pretty nice but not the ones I gravitated towards. I think Solitude is Bliss or Half Full Glass of Wine would be Fan songs.

  13. This thread is a direct rip off of a thread I did last year on my blog. Absolute plagiarism. Check it out on my blog….argentinianpopdudeisjustmadcuztheylosttheworldcup.

  14. Is this a joke?

    • Pretty much. As a person belonging to the Spanish-speaking world, I can testify that anything involving Pablito Ruiz is always a joke.

  15. How hard would it be to find another pop song in the last 100 years that uses the same 5 note melody and say that Pablo Ruiz ripped it off? Everytime I see one of these plagiarism cases in pop music I just want to smack these people upside their head and say, “You didn’t invent this. You borrowed it for your own 15 minutes of fame. Now let it go and write something we actually care about now.”

  16. When I hear cases like this not only do I feel like it’s not similar enough to make case for, but it really just makes me think, “Man I know there’s a song out there that can make a better case for getting ripped off by this song” is that a weird reaction?

  17. Am I the only ones who likes “Backwards” less than at least five or six other songs on that album? Pitchfork goes crazy over that song (one of the top 20 songs of the last five years, apparently), but I’d take “Apocalypse Dreams,” “Elephant,” “Keep on Lying” and my personal fav “Mind Mischief” over it any day.

    • When the album came out it was one of my favorites but the more live videos of them playing it I’ve seen, the more I don’t care for it. He just can’t seem to do the song justice live vocally. His voice often breaks and just sounds flat other times, it sadly kind of ruined that song for me. Love Tame Impala and both albums though, just a nitpick. Not all songs were meant to sound great live.

      • Whaaaaaat!? The song sounds excellent live, it has this added sense of melancholy and sounds even lazier and more defeated. I’m pretty sure the slightly askew (flat) vocal notes are done on purpose to add to this sense of slovenliness (that word doesn’t look right). Check this, even the synth at the end sounds lazy. It’s awesome.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8syAkm5x3s

  18. I mean they’ve only got 12 notes to choose from. And only 7 if you consider that they’re writing the melody in a given key.

    There’s no chance that the melody won’t bear a resemblance to another song recorded at some point in the past (in a different decade in a different country…). The similarities between these songs are coincidental at best.

  19. Funny coincidence, but I’d be shocked if that was intentional.

  20. The vocal melody is similar but that’s it. It’s a far cry from a rip-off.

  21. not a chance. not the same timing. at all.

  22. Tame Impala taking a break from listening to 60s psych records to find melodies to rip off from crappy Argentine pop music. Real plausible, sure.

  23. I just want to meet the person who listens to both Tame Impala and Pablo Ruiz.

  24. The only thing that’s similar here is that the two tracks have been recorded. The vocal melody doesn’t come close enough on the two tracks to even be considered an interpolation (very common style Diddy is known for that cost $$$). Interpolations are clear and credited homages paid out. Dancing vocal tones around a rhythm on coincidences isn’t enough in this case. Plus they are speaking Australian and he’s speaking kid Spanish. He couldn’t possibly be saying anything close to what I heard in the lyrics.

  25. this is hilarious!! Im from Argentina, I really like Tame Impala, and Pablito Ruiz has not had a hit in years and has been out of business a long time….you do the match. Some forgotten pop idol trying to have another minute of fame.

  26. it’s about as close to oceano as it is to…

    well shake it up baby nowww!! (shake it up baby)
    twist and shoooout! (twist and shout)

    it’s a super poppy chord progression that begs for these similar melodic changes. i’m gonna go with funny joke here

  27. Hey! Everyone debating whether or not it’s plagiarism, noting the similarities, etc. IN the article it states: “And the editors of Chilean news site Rata, who made the original allegation, say it was a joke.” C’mon, man!

  28. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGx5thIPgic Check this version from Pablito Impala!

  29. Sure, the song’s great but nothing is as great as reading the “who has the bigger dick” competition about melodies.

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