Jul 8, 2010

Chosen Words: Q is for Queen

Fat Roland's A-Z guide to the most important words or phrases in electronica and their associated "facts"

Yes, that Queen. The prancing dead bloke with the moustache and the chest. The asteroid-explosion-haired guitarist. Yeah, Queen.

Because Queen started something. Or rather, Vanilla Ice started it when he stole *that* bassline from Queen and Bowie's Under Pressure for his 1990 hit Ice Ice Baby.

The age of the sampler truly arrived with that record. It used to be the preserve of novelty acts or one-hit wonders (MARRS, Jive Bunny, Black Box). Subsequent massive hits by Enigma and the KLF dragged the technology kicking and st-st-stuttering into the trendy mainstream.

The subsequent controversy over Vanilla Ice blatantly stealing his sample was a spooky omen of many troubled arguments about what can be nicked and what counts as digital theft and "what, is that Loleatta Holloway, AGAIN?!"

When a doctor asks you for a urine sample, use the container provided: weeing into your Akai will not impress the NHS. Take heed 'cause I'm a lyrical poet.

Top five examples of sampling going too far:

- Jive Bunny
- funky drummer / amen break
- Scooter (pot) sampling the KLF (kettle)
- advertisers using cut-up techniques because it's "urban" or "street"
- every Puff Daddy and Kanye West chorus ever

For more Chosen Words, click the tag at the bottom of this post.


Anonymous said...

Although not electronica related this kinda follows similar lines in the pop culture.

In 1972 the first use of the phrase "mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ko-ma-ko-ssa" was originally used by Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango in his song "Soul Makossa." In 1983 Michael Jackson borrowed the line without Dibango's permission for his hit "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and reworded it to "mama-se mama-sa ma-ma-ko-ssa" and tried to originally claim it was Swahilli. Jackson then admitted he got the phrase idea from Dibango and they made an out-of-court settlement. Then in 2007 Rihanna got permission from Jackson and used his version of the phrase in her song "Can't Stop The Music", so Dibango sued them both.

The phrase was also used in the Bloodhound Gang's 1994 hit "Mama Say", Dirty Beatnicks used it in their 1997 dance track "Latinhead", and a variation of it was used in A Tribe Called Quest's 1990 hit "Rhythm (Devoted To The Art Of Moving Butts)", but no mention to whether they got sued for "copyright infringement" aswell.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, another sampling by Queen I've been hearing here and there is the beat from "Another One Bites The Dust", usually to some crappy rappy.

Fat Roland said...

Ha ha! Go, Dibango! That's pretty awful legal clearance from Rihanna's people, to be honest.

I've heard some pretty obvious steals before now, but the artists who have their work nicked are often flattered and not that bothered - especially if the offending musician isn't terribly well known and doesn't have much money to be grabbed in an expensive legal case!

Unlike melody, beats can be sampled legally in most cases, I believe. Unless you're in Germany, where you can't steal beats thanks to a nasty bit of litigation carried out - and won - by Kraftwerk against some poor, thieving musician (not sure who - just relying on memory).