And While We're At It, Does This McDonald's Commercial Rip Off "Lisztomania"?

Alright, the latest edition of “Does [insert huge company] rip off [insert artist]?” is a little hairier — this possible invocation of Phoenix’s “Lisztomania” isn’t as cut-and-dry as our last adventure into this territory. But, admittedly, it’s pretty darn close, melodically. While I don’t have as sharp of an ear, in terms of key changes and what have you, as some who frequent the site, it seems like there’s enough distance here to avoid a lawsuit? Maybe not. Shouts out to reader Kurt for the tip.

And here’s “Lisztomania”…

Comments (21)
  1. Michael_  |   Posted on Sep 19th, 2011 +4

    Man, you guys watch a lot of commercials. Remind me to start a Kickstarter to get you a TiVo for the office…

  2. SPEAKING OF WHICH, has anyone heard the Volkswagen commercial with a song that sounds eerily similar to 11th Dimension by Julian Casablancas? Or did I dream it?

  3. You can’t copyright chord changes without an accompanying melody. Otherwise every blues song would be infringing.

    My guess is that they did, in fact, deliberately rip off Phoenix, and altered it enough knowing nobody could press it, especially without a vocal line. It happens all the time.

  4. Speaking of Phoenix, I always thought some of those Fidelity “green line” commercials sounded like the riff from “1901.” Mutual funds, baby!

    • the music doesn’t start till about 20 seconds in an end pretty quickly, but you can still get the idea… it’s a catchy tune!

      • I believe there are Production Music companies the same way there Stock Photography companies – they take trends in music and create instrumental tracks that sound like modern songs (but aren’t) which they can sell to advertisers at a lower cost than an artist would charge.

        And my guess is these companies work out very specific Sync license contracts with their clients where the royalty rates are low, but earnings per-client-fee are very high.

        • I can confirm this, I work in television and we have ginormous libraries of stock tracks that come from albums that are made to “sound” like a certain scene, and the track descriptions actually list the artist that the track is supposed to sound like. It’ll be something like ” A high-octane rock and roll blast that has a Lenny Kravitz feel to it”. They pick songs that sound like whatever’s popular now.

      • My point is, that’s why you hear so many rip-offs in ads. It’s 100% on-purpose, and 100% legit.

  5. Why is this phrased as a question??

  6. Noticed this one too (sent in the Broken Bells tip). My guess is that the honchos use popular music as placeholders in their ads and then ask marketing executives to recapture the timbre (that’s the ‘feel’ of the music, unique to the instrumentation), in a manner much cheaper than licensing would cost.

    It’s pretty easy to recapture the timbre of a song once someone else has created it – think Owl City imitating Postal Service, or the Beatles imitating Bob Dylan (You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away), or Last Dance with Mary Jane -> Dani California. But is it legit to put this reproduced timbre in people’s heads to make money, associating it with a product the original band doesn’t care about? I don’t want to unwittingly think Mickey D’s next time I hear Lizstomania. The attitude these marketers probably have towards this music kind of freaks me out too (psst – this sounds too much like the real thing – let’s move it from C to D, and make this last guitar note go up rather than down). That’s pretty dishonest.


    this domino’s commercial is ripping of Chad Vangaalen’s – Red Hot Drops.

    while we are at it.

    also a weird commercial.

  8. Ok…sooo…are we ready to stop being surprised by these sound-alikes? They happen all the time. Let’s save the article for when it’s another artist or band actually trying to pass the sound-alike off as their own creation.

  9. this short film (commercial for a bank) has a really blatant rip off of “Lovers Carvings” by Bibio..

    starts around 0:55 seconds but gets really bad around 1:14.

  10. i’m not lovin it

  11. I never realized how much that Phoenix song sounded like a McDonald’s commercial until McDonalds pointed it out.

  12. and there’s a friday’s commercial ripping off the strokes! wish i could find it on youtube though.

  13. so yeah its not Hot Red Drops in that dominos advert…its Burn 2 Ash..same album.

  14. Yes it does.. I was going to suggest this one.

  15. This does sound similar, but not so much as the Nokia commercial does to “VCR”.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2