The choruses to Imagine Dragons' song Demons (released October 22, 2013) and Madonna's hit Like a Prayer (March 3, 1989) have similar melodies (and lyrics). The opening line of LaP's chorus: "When you call my name" follows a 3-3-1-1-b7 melodic pattern, while the opening line of Demon's chorus: "When you feel my heart" follows a 3-3-5-1-b7 melodic pattern (only a single different interval, and two different words). Likewise, both melodies are sung over a I-V (or major 1-5) chord progression. LaP (key: F# major) follows a I-V-IV-I-V (or 1-5-4-1-5) progression and Demons (key: Eb major) follows a I-V-vi-IV (or 1-5-minor6-4) progression.
Honorable mention goes to the chorus to Crowded House's 1991 single Fall at Your Feet (:42), as Demons shares the same key (Eb) and exact (common) chord progression (I-V-vi-IV or 1-5-minor6-4), though melodies and tempos are distinct.
Check out the opening line of each chorus:
Like a Prayer (:42) vs Demons (:56)
Avril Lavigne's single Rock n Roll (released August 27, 2013) echos elements from Nirvana's Heart-Shaped Box (released August 30, 1993), as well as Joan Jett's version of I Love Rock 'n' Roll (released 1981) and Weezer's Beverly Hills (released March 29, 2005). Avril's track utilizes a classic rock rhythm that emphasizes eighth notes on the first and third beats of the measure (songs featuring this rhythm include: Jett's and Weezer's aforementioned tracks, Steve Miller's The Joker, Bad Company's Feel Like Making Love, Queen's We Will Rock You, the chorus to Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar On Me, just to name a few). Avril's track emulates the production of I Love Rock 'n' Roll and Beverly Hills e.g. distorted guitar chord eighth notes on first and third beats, handclaps and big snare hits on two and four, punk glee club vocals. Likewise, in the chorus of Rock n Roll, Avril's "hey" shouts fall on the second and fourth beats of the measure, and glissando from an F to a G, just like Kurt Cobain's "hey"/"wait" shouts during the chorus of Heart-Shaped Box, which also gliss a whole step (from an F# to a G#). Listen to HSB (:49) vs RnR (1:42).
The arpeggiated synth intro to Maroon 5's dance-pop single Love Somebody (released May 14, 2013) is reminiscent of the arpeggiated synth intro to the Eurythmics' Here Comes the Rain Again (released January 16, 1984). Both songs feature similar sixteenth-note patterns only a half-step apart (though chord progressions, bpms, and keys for the two songs are substantially different). HCtRA (:00) vs LS (:07) [Thanks to Steve Cohen for suggesting the one!].
The chorus for The Killers' Shot at the Night (released September 16, 2013) is very similar to the chorus for Steve Winwood's Grammy Award-winning, chart-topper Higher Love (released June 20, 1986), which features Nile Rodgers on rhythm guitar and Chaka Kahn on backing vocals. While the melodies and tempos (99bpm vs 93bpm) differ, similarities include: lyrics (SATN: "Give me a shot at the night" vs HL: "Give me a higher love"), key (both in F major), drum and bass parts (and snare sounds), and chord progressions (SATN: IV-I-vi-V or 4-1-minor6-5 vs HL: IV-I-V-vi or 4-1-5-minor6). Check out: Higher Love (:56) vs Shot at the Night (:50). [Thanks to Alphabet Omnimedia Group for suggesting this one.]
Written for the film The Bucket List, John Mayer's song Say (released November 20, 2007) bears mild resemblance to Steve Winwood's number one Adult Contemporary hit Back in the High Life Again (released June 1986). Similarities include: Say's ukulele part played at the opening and throughout, which sets the tone for the song in much the same way as BitHLA's mandolin part, tempo (168 bpm vs 169 bpm) drums (both songs feature a staggered beat with a military/march snare pattern). Likewise, the chords for Say (key: Bb) follow a I-IV-vi-V (or 1 - 4 - minor 6 - 5) progression, while BitHLA's (key: D) chords follow a I-IV-I-V (or 1 - 4 - 1 - 5) progression. Have a listen: Say (1:08) vs BitHLA (1:26).
As a musician and composer, I’m often struck by similarities between pop songs. If you’ve ever listened to a tune on the radio and thought to yourself, “this sounds really familiar,” or “what does this melody remind me of,” (or more bluntly, “this song is a rip-off of …”) then you have shared in the experience.