The internet has done some truly incredible things. It's allowed groups of individuals to interact with each other all across the world, traveling has become simplified with flights, hotels, and transportation available at the click of a button. It also gave rise to the popular overnight sensation movement. Suddenly people could self promote their talents on a YouTube video and reach billions of people with just one click and be instantly discovered rather than doing a more old fashioned version of open mic nights. A whole new world opened up to people trying to reach their dreams of being famous.
What happens though, if someone were made famous by taking someone else's work and making it their own? Well that's how we discover popular bands such as Walk off the Earth. "Their brilliant 5-people-playing-one-guitar interpretation of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” exploded on Youtube garnering well over 35 million views in under 2 weeks. The massive fan response quickly drew attention to their collection of innovative songs and videos spanning their last 5 years and generated an unprecedented flood of media interest" - walkofftheearth.com/about/
Where does Copyright law come into play at this point? Does one say, Walk off the Earth doesn't deserve any credit because it is not their song, or are they applauded for their ability to take an already popular song and create artistic version? What about their other videos that display clear talent and ability, but still serve as copies of songs. An infinite of cover songs have been done by this group: Can't Feel My Face, Hello, Shake It Off, I Knew You Were Trouble, etc. are all other artists work. Is it enough for Walk off the Earth to use different instruments for the song and still receive the popularity for it, even though they aren't the original artists? I think for this we can look back to The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Walter Benjamin. We live in an age of reproduction and music has joined the bandwagon to becoming the social norm in this day and age. Here's Gotye's original version, if you care to compare.
The song itself is a good example for showing incongruity in its message partnered tragic lyrics, but with a relatively intense sound to it. The song seems relatively happy causing me to nod my head and tap my feet along to the beat it provides. An interesting contradiction happens though when the singer begins on the lyrics, which then seem to give off a poetic illusion instead:
But you didn't have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn't have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don't need that though
Now you're just somebody that I used to know...
Now check out this combination- "Stevie Wonder Herbie Hancock Mashup" by Pomplamoose which combines Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" with two Herbie Hancock songs: "Watermelon Man" and "Chameleon". Three songs turned into one, how neat is that!
Some Questions for you:
A) Do you think Walk off the Earth earned popularity for their performance fairly?
B) Does Pomplamoose's remix deserve more credit for originality than Walk of the Earth? Why?
C) What's your favorite original song remake?