...And Does This Nokia Commercial Rip Off The xx?

The last time out, we had a rip-off that tread into a bit of a gray area thanks to a key change, but this recent ad for Nokia in India is way more of an open-and-shut case. This is totally the same song. “VCR” by the the xx. I hope they have the best lawyers in indie rock.

And here’s the xx’s song, for the sake of comparison:

The xx is out now on Young Turks.

Comments (29)
  1. Holy fuck, if I’ve ever heard a ripoff song, it’s this one.

  2. this can’t be a ripoff, they MUST have had permission. either that or they’re really ballsy because this is the exact same song

  3. The USA show Suits also uses a pretty blatant rip-off of “Intro”

  4. There’s a million more, it drives me nuts every time I watch T.V. I’m like hey Arcade Fire song, cool! Wait. not quite?

  5. The worst rip-off I have ever heard was the opening theme for this crappy Canadian cooking show called The Main on the Canadian Food Network, it is an almost bar-for-bar copy of “I Turn My Camera On”

    I can’t post a direct link to the video but you can see it here:


    The video is called, “Aged Cheddar,” a fitting title for such unmitigated cheese.

  6. Yeah it’s a rip off but not the same: the bass line has a slightly different melody.

  7. this is wrong

  8. I just consider all of these homages.

  9. i wasnt convinced until the guitar riff kicked in and then, well, i was convinced.

  10. I’m just a musician and as such I don’t know what the legal standard is for these types of things. But I can tell you that the key (C major) is the same for both of these pieces, although that shouldn’t make a difference one way or the other. They are both based on the same two chords, C and F(maj7). There are some differences in the rhythms and the intervals, however. I quickly notated both pieces (minus the bass line because I didn’t feel like it) to demonstrate. Here’s the XX version:


    And here’s the commercial version:


    I think they’re similar enough that the commercial is taking advantage of the viewer’s familiarity with and presumed affection for the XX, which seems wrong. On the other hand, the piece is extremely simple and there’s a ton of stuff that sounds like this. But the commercial probably ought to have chosen some different tones for the instruments if they wanted to avoid sounding like they were infringing.

    As a composer I think this would be a fun job — try to evoke the sound of another piece without sounding so much like it that you incur a lawsuit. In this case I think the commercial’s composer should have done a better job.

  11. I know things are hard on Nokia with Apple and Android, but are they really so tight on cash?

  12. there’s also a tgi fridays commercial that uses a pretty direct appropriation of “under cover of darkness” by the strokes. i know soundalikes is its own thing, but it’s fun to point them out!

  13. There’s a new McDonalds ad that does their thing with “Lisztomania.” And some insurance (?) company has a blatant “1901″ rip-off. Also, has this column talked about the Chase commercials that use a “Float On” soundalike? ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAIczVWrSMo&feature=player_embedded )

  14. Do we know for a fact that this wasn’t created BY the XX? A lot of licensing deals for commercials today are alternate/instrumental versions of established songs done by the same artists that did the originals…the kids gotta eat, yo

    • like the car (i think?) commercial with the different version of Massive Attack’s “Paradise Circus”. That’s definitely still MA but I’m not sure about this XX example

  15. Shit’s going dowwwn-towwwn.

  16. sorry, but, who gives a flying fuck?

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