Coldplay finally decided that this whole plagiarism lawsuit against them might actually be a problem. As I wrote a few days ago, guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani has filed suit against Coldplay for stealing one of his riffs and using it in their hit song Viva La Vida.
Their response on their web site reads (Thank you Jackie V for emailing this to me):
“With the greatest possible respect to Joe Satriani, we have now unfortunately found it necessary to respond publicly to his allegations. 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 or have any influence on the song Viva La Vida. We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances of this and wish him well with all future endeavours. Coldplay.”
I have a few thoughts here.
First, from a social media/ business perspective, this response took them way too long. When bloggers and twitterers get bent out of shape over something, response times should be measured in hours, not days.
The YouTube video that I had posted earlier, (and will repost because I like it so much) has had 1,611,590 views as of (7:07 EST on 12/9). That’s a lot of views and I’ve seen plenty of other posts and articles about the issue. My father tells me he even heard Satriani interviewed on NPR. This will be yet another case-study in poor reputation management.
My other point has to do with the age-old practice of major artists ripping off lesser-known innovators.
For decades black blues pioneers were ripped off by their producers, and the musicians that they influenced. This isn’t something unique to bands that I don’t like such as Coldplay, even Led Zeppelin (who I really like) pulled this bullshit.
While Satriani isn’t a black bluesman, and he clearly has earned a healthy living off of his music, it doesn’t change the fact that Coldplay is a huge pop act that has ripped off a lesser-known innovator.
The similarities between Viva La Vida and If I Could Fly are just too substantive to simply brush off and ignore.