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Guitar god: Coldplay ripped me off!

December 10, 2008 7:27:33 AM PST
Coldplay's new song "Viva La Vida" has earned them Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. It has also won them a lawsuit.Joe Satriani, a guitar virtuoso who has recorded a number of instrumental albums, claims the song contains "substantial, original portions" from "If I Could Fly," a guitar-driven instrumental Satriani wrote and released in 2004.

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Was "Viva La Vida" a rip-off? You be the judge. Click here to compare it with "If I Could Fly".

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The 52-year-old Satriani has gone so far as to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against the top-selling British act He is asking a US federal judge to order an accounting to find out how much money Coldplay owes him. Satriani, in his suit, has also suggested that the band stop using the song.

"Viva La Vida" is the title track from Coldplay's latest album. It has sold nearly two million copies in the United States. It has also been nominated for a total of seven Grammys.

Anyone listening to the two songs would admit there is an uncanny similarity to the main melodies. Satriani believes "similarity" is not strong enough of a word.

The guitarist, who has taught the likes of Steve Vai and Metallica's Kirk Hammett, told Musicradar.com earlier this month: "The second I heard, I knew... I felt like a dagger went right through my heart. It hurt so much. The second I heard it, I knew it was [my own] 'If I Could Fly'."

"Almost immediately, from the minute their song came out, my e-mail box flooded with people going, 'Have you heard this song by COLDPLAY? They ripped you off man,'" he went on to tell Musicradar.com. "I mean, I couldn't tell you how many e-mails I received.

"Everybody noticed the similarities between the songs. It's pretty obvious. It's as simple as that, when you listen to a song and you say, 'Wow, that's a real rip-off.'"

Coldplay has responded to the accusations. The band released a statement saying:

"With the greatest possible respect to Joe Satriani ... if there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him. Joe Satriani is a great musician, but he did not write the song 'Viva La Vida.' We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances of this and wish him well with all future endeavours."

Satriani's lawyer, Howard E. King, fired back by saying: "We attempted to have a dialogue on this before we went public. "We felt almost forced to file suit."

King also admits artists will draw inspiration from other songs, and even incorporating ideas a little too closely. However, King said, "It doesn't mean you don't owe something to the original composer."

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time an act has claimed Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" is plagiarism. Back in the summer, a Brooklyn indie band called Creaky Boards said Coldplay frontman Chris Martin had attended an October 2007 performance in New York, and saw them perform the song "The Songs I Didn't Write." It possesses similar melodies to the Coldplay hit.

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Click here to listen to the Creaky Boards song "The Songs I Didn't Write" and a comparison to "Viva La Vida."

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However, "Viva La Vida" had been written and demoed in March of 2007, seven months before the concert. Plus, a Coldplay spokesman says Martin was not in New York when the concert took place.

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