Coldplay Writes a Response… All By Themselves

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.

11 thoughts on “Coldplay Writes a Response… All By Themselves

  1. That was great work David. A musician or writer should be flattered if someone copies his work. But getting credit for someone else’s work is plagiarism. So I don’t understand what Satriani did. I like both Satriani and Coldplay. The big Q is: what’s really the motive of JS in suing?

    1. Not for nothing, but everyone involved is looking for money. No one is denying that. It doesn’t change the fact that their is a difference between copying and citing, and stealing and inspiration. It also is relevant that Coldplay is selling tons of albums, and have been nominated for quite a few Grammys.

  2. In my eyes, it’s not so much a matter of envy as it is an issue of ownership of original material. I wish I could write like Neil Gaimon, but I can’t. If I were to copy and paste a couple of his paragraphs into my work and swap in a few synonyms in place of a some of the words, it wouldn’t make it my work.

    Coldplay is using a simplified version of Satch’s chord progression and melody, and claiming it as their own. They didn’t mimic technique or style, they copied the material itself. Fan or not, that’s not right.

  3. This isn’t stolen at all. The lyrics sync with the guitar but the instruments don’t at all. I can compare a few songs with lyrical progression that would match the guitar, but the instruments on Coldplays side don’t sound anything like Satris. I almost said stolen until I listened to it again.

    1. Opti, are we listening to the same songs? Even if you set aside the video that layers the two over each other, I’m still hearing the same chord progression.

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