Book Reviews

Tim English – Sounds Like Teen Spirit

Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Stolen Melodies, Ripped-Off Riffs, and the Secret History of Rock and Roll

tim englishIn the newest edition of Sounds Like Teen Spirit…, author Tim English, a major authority on plagiarism in pop music, examines and dissects songs that appear to have ripped off melodies from other songs. It’s no secret that many songs do pull inspiration from earlier numbers, and that a guitar riff you hear on any given day will often remind you of something that was released before. The previous edition of this book received the Independent Publisher’s Bronze Medal, so naturally it made sense to expand and include more recent music, such as Robin Thicke, Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars and Sam Smith.

Through appearances on hundreds of radio and TV programs in the US, UK and Canada, English has been able to discuss his fascinating finds. He covers topics such as how long music plagiarism has been occurring and the odd connections between certain sets of songs. His discoveries can be found in Sounds Like Teen Spirit.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit isn’t just list after list. English brings up a piece of evidence and then goes on for paragraphs at a time to plead his case. The book is broken down into various sections, covering not just borrowed lyrics, but an entire chapter on the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and even a musical family tree. The family tree section is actually very interesting and while paging through the entire book is encouraged, this is the section most worth your time. Follow sets of songs from pioneers of pop music down to more recent tunes… how do they relate? Download some mp3s and play along!

This book is quite comprehensive, and one for the collection. An avid music fan who may enjoy arguing English’s findings would certainly love this book. The topics of conversation are endless! Should artists be pleased when another band “borrows” a melody to achieve a career breakthrough or should the original artist quickly file a lawsuit? Which band has the more “plagiarized” music? Pick it up; you likely won’t put it down until the end.

– Brenda Hillegas

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