If you love to nitpick at the similarities between songs — think of the ongoing battle between Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”— you would enjoy poking around Montclair resident Steve Nathanson’s new website, www.samethattune.com.
Weeks before news broke in August of the lawsuit Thicke filed against Gaye’s estate, Nathanson had drawn the comparison between the tunes on his recently launched site. In fact, he credits the “Blurred Lines” buzz with drawing traffic to SameThatTune, which is getting about 20,000 unique visitors a month and growing.
SameThatTune lets users post clips of songs side-by-side as well as add notes and observations. Other users can then vote on whether they think there’s no similarity, it’s just a tribute or a coincidence or whether the likenesses are dubious.
“Anyone can play. There’s no real barrier to entry,” Nathanson, 46, said. “Anyone can say either, ‘I hear it or I don’t hear it.’”
Nathanson, founder of Further Lane Music, an independent publishing company and production house, built the website himself, combining his two passions and areas of expertise, music and technology.
Some of the other comparisons which have been posted on SameThatTune include:
- Baba O'Riley (The Who) - VS - Best Song Ever (One Direction)
- Lady Madonna (The Beatles) - VS - What I Got (Sublime)
- The Flame (Cheap Trick) - VS - She Will Be Loved (Maroon 5)
Which brings him to the point: "There are really only so many progressions, so many patterns. In Western music you have only 12 notes to work with," he said, adding that Blues is even more limited with its 1-4-5 pattern.
Unfortunately for creative-types, you can be too talented or too clever for your own good, Nathanson said.
"All hit songs are indebted to the past. Part of the reason that we like a song is because it does remind us of something, either a melody or a chord progression."
If a musician wants to write a contemporary hit, he said, it serves him or her well to model it after other hit songs.
Perhaps he should have heeded to his own advice?
The drummer, guitar and bass player said when he was younger he had a habit of telling his bandmates their riffs reminded him of other works.
“I don’t think they appreciated it that much,” he laughed.