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Remember that time Joe Satriani was like “I wrote ’Viva La Vida’ first and I demand all the money?” And Coldplay was like “bugger off, little guitar man“? This one is better, partially because it involves the guy who wrote “Peace Train,” and partially because he must be high. Yusuf Islam told The Sun (via NME):

“There’s been this argument about Coldplay stealing this melody from Joe Satriani,” he said. “But, if you listen to it, it’s mine! It’s the [1973 song] ’Foreigner Suite’, it is!”

We’ve edited the suite to the portion at issue.

It’s too bad Cat has declared he won’t sue, because this is a perfect opportunity for Coldplay to utilize the classic legal defense of Whuuuuuut. Stevens would have a better case suing himself for ripping off Jimmy Soul’s “If You Want To Be Happy.” The big winner in all of this? Creaky Boards. Because they are an obligatory “Viva La Vida” plagiarism-post mention, which is so much more than when they are usually mentioned never.

[Photo by Jenn Perutka from Pemberton '08]

Comments (68)
  1. fuck off  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    dude, you wrote some great songs in the 70s, but shut up.

  2. Ryan  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Here We Go Again! *Rolls Eyes*

  3. Sal  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    To be fair to Cat Stevens (or Yusuf Islam) I hear the similarity but I think it just goes to show how much of popular music is recycled in general, I don’t think it was intentional on Coldplay’s part. I like his song more than their’s though.

  4. carolyn  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Uhm, there’s something called copying, and then there’ something called using the same chords. This stuff is crazy.

  5. van  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Yusuf Islam has been cat shit crazy for years — at least since he supported Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence against Salman Rushdie merely because Rusdie had parodied him in The Satanic Verses as a character called Bilal X, an American pop singer / Muslim convert. The man got off the peace train at crazy ass junction years ago.

  6. elelevato  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    It’s not the most complex melody ever, I’m sure it’s been used in about a thousand other places. While listening to the “Foreigner Suite” clip, the chorus to Weezer’s “The Good Life” started playing in my mind. So this is all nonsense and all I learned is that Joe Satriani is not happy with just having the ability to fellate himself musically.

  7. asdfasdfsdf   |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    what I mean to say is, yes they use the same chord progression but the songs are completely different.. no one can copyright a chord progression.

    as much as I dislike Coldplay, this is indeed very stupid, just wanted to clarify that I do agree with you.

  8. Two Fine People  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Well I can hear it…better call out the A-Ha guy too. Chris Martin seems to nice to be doing it intentionally…

  9. AJ Thunderfuck  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    That’s impossible. Coldplay actually stole “Viva la Vida” from ME, and my 2004 song “My Girl’s Got Smelly Melons.”

  10. LOL at Amrit’s very serious treatment of Cat’s accusation

  11. tim  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    that phrase barely counts as “melody” it’s just like six notes from a major scale, it’s incredibly common. you could probably name another 20 songs with the same three notes in that order.nobody wrote it, nobody should be able to sue anybody for it.

  12. You may as well throw in Pulp’s Razzamatazz too – same chords and structure. Gotta agree though, there’s only so many combinations that you can come up with with the limited number of notes available. Just about every song has been written already.

  13. when is stereogum gonna post about wayne coyne’s apology to the arcade fire?

  14. uglyredhonda  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    People seem to be hung up on defending Coldplay from Yusuf, but he’s actually helping them in their case against Satriani. Satriani is arguing that he wrote the progression, but if somebody else did it before he did, then Coldplay owes him nothing. (That’s why Coldplay is using the “not original” argument. People are twisting their argument to imply that Coldplay isn’t original, but, in this case, it’s the correct argument: the progression wasn’t original in Satriani’s song either.)

  15. Cathelin  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    It’s interesing that all of them accuse Coldpaly of copying, but none acuse each other.

  16. Mark  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    this isn’t even the right version of the Cat Steven’s song. Stereogum is idiotic!!

  17. I sort of hope he was joking.

  18. Coldplay could’ve just gone the Kid Rock route and openly admitted it was a new interpretation of a previously written song. Although I do question why it took so long for Cat or anybody for that matter to spot this just now?

  19. Cat Stevens is freakin’ NUTS! He decided not to sue because he’d have no case…

  20. The idea of the whole “you stole my idea ” thing to be mentioned in pop music (or any music?) is just silly. Ideas should be free anyway.

  21. Salsa Sally  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Given the Flaming Lips ‘accidentally’ borrowed from Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son”, I’m not surprised that it could happen again. But the Flaming Lips case was much more blatant. I believe that one resulted in the Lips paying Stevens royalties.

  22. I don’t want to make too big of a deal out of this, but come on. Yes, there is a lot of recycled material in popular music, but the whole game changes when the borrower makes so much money off of the material. Coldplay more money off this one song than Cat Stevens and Joe Satriani made combined for their entire careers. That is why this is a problem for me.

    • ...  |   Posted on May 5th, 2009 0

      You are aware that Cat Stevens wasn’t exactly a “cult favorite,” right? Pretty sure he made a fair amount of money in his day.

  23. maplesugar  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Cat Stevens ripped off his hit “Morning Has Broken”, it’s an Anglican hymn.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morning_Has_Broken

    • Sal  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

      Don’t you mean covered? That’s a fairly famous hymn in the UK and on my copy of Teaser And The Firecat it’s credited to Eleanor Farjeon and says only he arranged it. That’s not my definition of ripping someone off.

    • Maplesugar wrote (4/5/09) – “Cat Stevens ripped off his hit “Morning Has Broken”, it’s an Anglican hymn.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morning_Has_Broken.”

      You idiot Maplesugar – How can it be a rip off if he acknowledges the song was written by others. In his recent Melbourne Concert Yusuf acknowledged before he performed it that the song was not written by him.

  24. some of you douches need to relax. cat yusuf stevens islam doesn’t appear to be going on the war path, he just said something that was taken out of context. his way of saying, “it sounds like [insert song here], right?” i hardly think he’s made an official statement about it. grow up.

    vampire weekend sucks.

    • Cat did sue Flaming Lips for ripping off “Father and Son” for their “Fight Test.” There’s a lot of left over animosity from that incident.

    • van  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

      yes brian, Yusuf Islam is forever being misunderstood. His comment about Salman Rushdie, “He must be killed. The Qur’an makes it clear – if someone defames the prophet, then he must die.” was also taken out of context. The poor man just can’t make himself understood with his simple declarative sentences. It’s probably because all us douches tend to get tense when he uses phrases like, “He must be killed.” Oh, and Another Cup just sucks.

      • since this is a largely political site i should probably apologize for not following the abhorrent mutterings of yusuf islam… i thought we were talking about coldplay.

    • I agree about some people need to calm down. But at the same time if you hate VW keep it to yourself

      • i’m just keeping it really pete k! i can’t say it enough. and please don’t use VW for vampire weekend – it gives a bad name to quality german engineering.

  25. CantCount)  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Here is my theory…i think that its Satriani who copied Cat Stevens, and Coldplay listened to the Satrianiversion and gained inspiration from it, not necessarily copying it.

  26. Michael  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Actually, Mr. Death To Rushdie’s point is that the Satriani thing is pretty stupid – coming up with similar melodies in a “black box” situation is not only plausible, it’s usually probable, considering the millions of songs written every year.

    Until we get to the level of “My Sweet Lord”/”He’s So Fine” (PROBABILITY that the artist heard the earlier number) I don’t have a lot of sympathy for a Satriani or Creaky Boards.

    And if one of them does win, Chris Martin can do what Harrison did and just buy the damned song, problem solved.

    • Is that his point though? We’re talking about a guy who sued Flaming Lips because he thought Fight Test sounded too much like Father & Son. Stevens/Islam calling Satriani dumb for his lawsuit would be the pot calling the kettle black.

    • billhaverchuck  |   Posted on May 7th, 2009 0

      wasn’t the creaky boards thing revelealed to be a “prank” of sorts? the dude said in some interview he didn’t really think CP ripped him off – it was just a toungue-in-cheek video he made for his friends that got blown way out of proportion.

      • Michael  |   Posted on May 8th, 2009 0

        Oddly, “prank” or not doesn’t matter, the real end was the same: publicity for Creaky Boards.

  27. I can see it but it isnt really worth mentioning

  28. Your parents generation owns the right to melodies that resolve themselves. If you want to start a band, remember that!

  29. Nate  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    Cat, my man. You totally ripped yourself off in “Heaven/Where True Love Goes”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bw6qo0tf-g

  30. Kristen Spychalski  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    just further evidence that Coldplay have NOTHING original to offer….just regurgitated music from others

  31. faas  |   Posted on May 4th, 2009 0

    ahhh…i THOUGHT i had heard that coldplay song before!

  32. AJ Thunderfuck  |   Posted on May 5th, 2009 0

    Cat Stevens shoiuld sue Joe Satriani for plagiarizing his melody.

  33. Coldplay died long ago…

  34. I find Cat Stevens really, really boring.

  35. Why are people proud to think this song is theirs?

  36. i held the copyright to the g chord years ago…expect to hear from my lawyer

  37. If you want to hear a song that’s really got the same thing goin on, listen to the intro of Cat’s “First Cut is the Deepest,” followed by the repeated guitar phrase in Bishop Allen’s “Click Click Click Click”

  38. JBizarre  |   Posted on May 6th, 2009 0

    Veredict: Three songs suck!

    How someone can be proud of this?: “I wrote this piece of shit, but another asshole copied me and made another piece of shit as bad as mine”

  39. Only 12 notes in a scale people and only so many combinations to go around. It the tune is melodic at all there’s always going to be someone who said they came up with it first!

  40. Kirk  |   Posted on May 6th, 2009 0

    I think Satriani and Cat Stevens should work on an album together.

  41. Is it me or does Cat Stevens sound exactly like Jello Biafra? Or is it the other way around? I see the potential for more lawsuits.

  42. PeteR  |   Posted on May 7th, 2009 0

    Don’t know what Yusuf is worried about. Isn’t this a perfect opportunity for a mashup? Lol
    Nobodoy likes Coldplay, Cat Stevens or Joe Satriani now so all of this is redundant.

  43. Frank  |   Posted on May 7th, 2009 0

    They totally ripped him off; sounds like Joe did, too (as well as the Creaky Boards). Neither Coldplay or Satriani hold a candle to Yusuf in terms of song writing talent. You’d have to be ignorant of pop music history to think otherwise.

  44. dfh1979  |   Posted on May 7th, 2009 0

    I wonder why it’s perfectly fine to call Yusuf Islam Cat Stevens when it was so offensive to call Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay….

  45. Kent  |   Posted on May 8th, 2009 0

    The only song that sounds like ‘viva la vida’ is ‘after the curtain’ by beirut….and there is no denying that one!!

  46. WOW……. think this happens more than we think?

    kaytea mcintosh // xo publicity

  47. Ben  |   Posted on May 12th, 2009 0

    the Noise room did a writeup on other musicians who could sue coldplay. http://thenoiseroom.net/post/106619497/other-songs-coldplays-viva-la-vida-plagiarised

  48. wahtever  |   Posted on Nov 16th, 2009 0

    Anyone should not say something bad about a man who gives himself to others in a way that the average human could never imagine. I am ashamed for you and your humane blindeness. Cat Stevens or Yusef Islam has never struck me as a threat to humanity, but moreover as a blessing to people whom posesss compasson for others. I will hope you will see to what you can do for others rather than be a pillar for hate. To all haters.

  49. Yun Mimihuamí  |   Posted on Dec 23rd, 2009 0

    if anyone, it’s Alizee who’s being ripped off here

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=240S04eCCC0

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