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07 Jul, 2008 – one comment

the remix versus the copycat


The Monkees — copycats — one part Beatles, one part Small Faces, one part the Mamas and the Papas, and all parts trying to capitalize on a popular meme.

I’ve been thinking a lot about copycats, cover songs, and club mixes. What’s the key difference and which is more culturally authentic? On one hand, people have been covering songs as long as someone has been writing them, but remixes seem like a different beast altogether. Copyright law itself establishes the possibility that a remix could be so entirely removed from the original to be considered a unique property. (covers not so much)

The copycat is a massively successful business model (wait for a hit, then rush to market with clones — one recent example in book publishing comes to mind), but is the remix emerging as a model too? Are the two differentiated enough to make such a case? I can think of plenty of copycat products, but what about remixes? Copycats seem to be more top-down driven, while remixing is very bottom-up (it requires less actual manufacturing and more hacking). With that said, is the remix just the 2.0 version of the copycat?

What’cha think?
I’ll provide a little entertainment while you mull it over…

The Monkees’ Porpoise Song, arguably their most derivative and yet their best.

Travis Barker puts a little elbow grease into Soulja Boy, where does his version begin and the original end?

One Comment

  1. July 8, 2008 at 3:35 am .

    For the most part, I think people recognize copycats from a mile away and in those cases, the “original” is always the most coveted. Covers and remixes are different in that the former is usually a major revamp (in style, speed, tone, etc.) and the latter is a rearrangement of the original. Covers generally incorporate more originality, whereas remixes seem to use the original material in a different way (plus or minus a different beat).

    Then again, good covers and good remixes are both celebrated in the music(and music-related) worlds. I guess a big part of culture is the ability to take existing material and contribute to it or change it in a way that makes new and exciting versions.

    What are your thoughts on music by artists like Girl Talk or E-603, who mashup numerous songs in a very original way?

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