Coldplay sued by Joe Satriani for plagiarism

Credit: PRPhotos

Update: Here’s a comparison video

Coldplay has been sued by guitarist Joe Satriani in a copyright infringement case. Satriani claims the recent Coldplay hit “Viva La Vida” is a blatant rip off of his 2004 song “If I Could Fly.” The suit alleges that “substantial original portions” of his song were used in “Viva La Vida” and seeks profits and damages. Satriani hopes for a jury trial.

This is not the first plagiarism allegation against Coldplay for “Viva La Vida.” The band Creaky Boards accused Coldplay of lifting from their song “The Songs I Didn’t Write,” a claim Creaky Boards’ frontman later retracted, saying that both he and Martin were inspired by the “Fairy Theme” song from the Legends of Zelda video game.

If you listen to “If I Could Fly” you can definitely hear the similarities to “Viva La Vida.” MSat notes that the guitar solo sounds very similar to the chorus in “Viva La Vida,” and the rhythm guitar sounds like Coldplay’s keyboard arrangement. It’s very close, but whether it’s enough for Satriani to recoup losses or not is up to a judge, and maybe a jury, to decide.

Joe Satriani – “If I Could Fly”

Coldplay – “Viva La Vida”

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42 Responses to “Coldplay sued by Joe Satriani for plagiarism”

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  1. cara says:

    If I just heard Satriani’s without knowing his came first, I would of thought it was someone doing a Coldplay song, so that pretty much sums it up. And I now recall hearing the comparisons of the last tune he ripped off, which were even more similar. Now, I have the sheet music for some Coldplay, and I must say, the notes are rather elementary. It’s very simplistic songwriting.

    That said, I can enjoy Coldplay’s music when it’s only going through my ears, but when I have to injest them visually, that Chris Martin just destroys it all. I don’t know what it is about him that just makes my mouth taste like bile, but he brings it on.

  2. EnKay says:

    I LOVE Joe Satriani.

  3. Zoe says:

    God I can’t stand this Chris Martin tool. What a poser.

  4. abden says:

    A radio station played them together and they’re identical with the exception of maybe two notes.

  5. Codzilla says:

    Zoe: I concur. He’s a self-important twat, just like his wife.

  6. thepaper says:

    isn’t this satriani song basically just lotta love by neil young turned into a christmas song for reefer addicts?

  7. Adrienne says:

    i just find it so ridiculous when people feel the need to try and plug their own music by suing another sucessful band… this is an instrumental song… and the notes are similar, in PART of the song, but otherwise, it’s a completely different genre of music. Aside from the chorus, there is NOTHING similar about the two pieces. And I doubt that with all the songwriting talent that has been previously shown by Coldplay, that they’d need to rip off someone that nobody’s ever heard of… this lawsuit is lame.

  8. Mia says:

    Go Joe!

  9. Rio says:

    “And I doubt that with all the songwriting talent that has been previously shown by Coldplay, that they’d need to rip off someone that nobody’s ever heard of”

    Um, I beg to differ with “someone nobody’s ever heard of”. Satriani was the lead guitarist for Mick Jagger’s first solo tour in ’88, taught guitar to members of Metallica, Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows and Primus, has worked with Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple (and Spinal Tap of all bands!) and has his own signature Ibanez guitar and amplifier. The guy hardly needs to pursue frivolous lawsuits to get his name out.

  10. Kaiser says:

    The header pic of Martin – that’s the face I make when I listen to him sing or speak. 😡

  11. Holly says:

    My two cents (as a classically trained musician for fourteen years now):

    Eerily similar throughout. Yes, the genres are different but the notes and chord progressions are pretty much the same–even the intro. But I’d like to point out that the Coldplay version has the violins placing emphasis on a few higher notes to give it more “pop” (more drama, if you will), both in the intro and the chorus. The fact that they are more or less based on the same chords may have been a subconscious error on their parts. As an occasional songwriter I know that sometimes certain tunes can just find their way back into your head without you realizing you like them so much because you’ve heard them before.

    Its like having two houses with identical foundations but different architects. The basis may be the same or similar, but everything from the ground up maintains enough difference and individuality that it becomes their own. I think Coldplay really made it their own, in this case.

    I say this having been a huge fan of both Satriani and Coldplay. If they’ve even heard Satriani’s song before, I would think their copying is more on a subconscious level than a deliberate one. Just my 2 cents though.

  12. Nicole says:

    I agree with Holly 100%…though I have no musical background except my own ears. 😉 I think this happens a lot. Especially now as there are so MANY bands, musicians, groups, garage punk kids…it’s inevitable that music is going to start overlapping.

  13. Christina says:

    wow, you’re kidding me right? i don’t notice much similarity…

    what’s with all the bouncing in martin’s video though… he looks like a bobble head… good song though

  14. Tom says:

    Similarities? Yes.
    Ripoff? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

    “Substantial original portions”?
    Try about 4 bars, and even that’s pushing it.

    The chord progression is very common, and the melody is very natural with that progression. I’ve written 3 songs myself with similar progressions.
    In fact, the chord progressions are NOT the same, just similar. Satriani’s progression has quite a bit more color to it, as you’d expect.

    And that YouTube video juxtaposing both songs? That’s a common DJ trick, but it’s interesting to listen to. But the songs are in different keys and tempos, so you tweak one to fit the other. It makes for a good argument until you really listen closely.

    The way I see it, there are three possibilities:
    1) Martin heard Satch’s song, and deliberately ripped it off.
    2) Martin heard the song, and some time later wrote Viva, that medody somewhere in his head.
    3) Martin never heard the song, and wrote Viva naturally.

    Of the three, the first is by far the LEAST likely.

    And it doesn’t matter if you think Satch is a god. He’s amazing, I’ll grant you.

    And it doesn’t matter if you think Coldplay sucks, or Martin’s a poser. That’s all irrelevant. It may score you points with your friends, but that’s about it.

    It’s just two songs with similar ideas, simple progressions, simple melodies.

    It happens.

    All the time.

    Joe will get some publicity out of this, and good for him, but shouldn’t win the case.

  15. Listerino says:

    Chris Martin is a classic case of gone crazy from success. Look at the way he carries on in the music videos these days compared to the first coldplay album. He’s losing it.

    I can hear the similarities in the songs but not that much that I would sue over it myself. But then celebrities will do anything for that extra buck.

  16. ronnie says:

    @ Adrienne

    You’ve NEVER heard of Joe Satriani? Really?

  17. Dubdub2000 says:

    I always thoght Coldplay were way over rated. Their music is soupy pop at its worst they are like a very very bad cover band level mixture of Radiohead and U2. And God to they take themselves seriously: Chris Martin in particular is a completely douchebag and fits really well with his vastly over rated douchebag of a wife.

    And this plagiarism thing is just the straw that broke the camel’s back: it is very clear that they totally ripped off Satriani, now that might have been unconcious (maybe they heard the song before and forgot about it, after all it’s an instrumental) but goodness listen to that mash up. It’s as if PDiddy had claimed that his tribute to Biggy’s passing was actually written by him rather than The Police!

  18. Sickitten says:

    I couldn’t put my finger on it but that is where I heard the song.

    I think it is really named ‘Cemeteries of London’. I love this coldplay song but I don’t like their other work.

    Like Malmsteen, Joe Satriani is a brilliant, gifted musician. He is literally the Antonio Vivaldi or Johann Sebastian Bach of this generation.

    He is better known in the world of people who play at Lincoln Center. Any fine classical musician of a string instrument is in awe of him. The elite regal him as a fine artist. Anyone who isn’t aware of Satriani probably never goes to see violinist or pianist in concert. He is THAT good. This piece on the vid is no representation of his finer works. An utter genius.

  19. Sickitten says:

    Ya know what, I should do a video of lip synching this song for Martin and show him how it’s done. No sex appeal. He just ruined one of my fav songs. Gonna put ‘Christmas Cannon’ on my MySpace now. Oy.

  20. GrnMtGirl says:

    I don’t know if Coldplay ripped off Joe Satriani or not, but I do know that I don’t get what people see in them. The only song I Like of theirs is Sparks from the Wedding Crashers Soundtrack. It is probably the most musically pleasant song they have IMO. Otherwise, I just find them to be rather pompous and unoriginal.

  21. Zoso says:

    Joe Satriani is an absolute genius.

  22. KatyAlia says:

    Don’t panic.

  23. Best of British says:

    What Tom said.. totally agree.

  24. chris says:

    it is. it is exactly the same. it is joe’s. but- coldplay did it better 🙂

  25. chris says:

    shame on joe satriani
    he’s out of money?
    I don’t think martin has heard his song and sometimes songs sound like others.
    Paul McCartney could very well sue every band since the beatles for how would that help?
    stop the american bullshit of sueing people

  26. Anonymous says:

    Holly is absolutely right. I am a trained musician as well, and she got it right on the nose. Chris Martin didn’t actively try and rip off someone else’s music. You would be shocked at how many popular songs have the same chord progression.

  27. MiCHAEL says:

    Joe Satriani is a great artist, that being said.

    HE IS NOT the Johann Sebastian Bach OR Vivaldi of this generation. Are you out of your mind?!?! I am a traiend classical musician and as much as I love Satriani that statement is a joke. There are other classical composers out there who are the bach of our generation. The reason you don’t know about them is the same reason that Bach and Vivaldi were not known in their time. The true greats are almost always never given credit while they are alive.

  28. RaraAvis says:

    thepaper said, “reefer addicts”. Hahahahahaha!

  29. Kim says:

    Say what you will, Chris Martin is very talented. Yeah he has a crazy on stage persona, but that is his style and I think it’s rockin’. So put me down for a Coldplay fan – people only diss them because they are sheep and want to act cool…well guess what? It makes all of ya look like assholes. So suck that!

    I am sure if Joe Satriani looks hard enough, he can find other people to sue – oh wait, they are not making as much many as Coldplay, never mind.

  30. Anne says:

    I can sort of hear it but I think Creaky Board’s song sounds more like Cold Play’s.

    I’ll leave it to the musician’s though if they say the chords are the same they are and Joe Satriani would also know. I would rather listen to Joe any day above CP, god, that whiny Chris Martin can fade away any day now….

  31. vdantev says:

    Coldplay blows anyway.

  32. Mairead says:

    God I’m so out of the loop. I thought they were supposed to have borrowed from Alizée’s “J’en ai Marre” (damn fine little song btw)

    I don’t diss Coldplay because I’m a sheep trying to look cool, because I’m past all that. I diss them because their music bores the effin’ hell out of me.

    Except for that one Viva la Vida song, oddly enough.

  33. sweetzy says:

    I would say it’s a coincidence, it’s no way they would make a stupid move by plagiarism Joe’s song… it’s only the chorus sounds similar. I love Coldpaly’s versions more.

  34. Sickitten says:

    Micheal, I get what you are saying but I am speaking in a Baroque sense, the chord progression, the trills. I’m not comparing him to today’s classical or even contemporary composers, in that sense.

    Bach and Vivaldi were well known in their time. They performed for the royal concert halls and had vast wealth. Viv died penniless do to alcoholism.

    I’ve had friends who have played at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and I’d borrow their cars and babysit their pets while they toured the world.

    It’s not a joke. I know, Satch is big.

  35. daisy424 says:

    Martin looks like his is crapping out a fist size hemorrhoid in that header photo.

  36. No doubt Coldplagiarism happened here. Coldplay’s arrogance will bite them in the ass here. Get the shirt!!

  37. joesucks says:

    man Joe Satriani you suck… you can’t make money with talent so you have to sue people who sell? have fun bro you still suck and never was famous for anything haha it will be interesting to see where Joe Satriani’s music career will go after this? o wait i already know NO WHERE!!! haha what loser he should just sing at kids birthday parties and local venues what a loser!

  38. Can’t it simply be a co-incidence?

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  40. dave daltrey says:

    well, it’s not a particularly original chord sequence doesn’t matter what key you’re in but it’s a basic kind of ‘c; d; g; e minor’ thing which has been kicked around for ages in virtually every shape or form with a few variants and some related chords thrown in and changed around a bit for good limits what one would choose for a melody by definition, as all the chords are derived from the same major scale..practically any musician could write some sort of tune around this chord sequence, and there are many examples if one cares to listen to enough music, and, yes, they’re all similar..a fuss about nothing really!

  41. DampWe This is the first time i’ve heard of an Seo camp. Really interesting and i will be attending.