What child alive in the 80s did not watch this show? It featured a duck with spats, a top hat and a Scottish accent who forced three indentured child servants to help him find treasures. What’s not to love?
Well, it turns out, the show’s creators desecrated the work of a brilliant comic book artist named Carl Bark. They turned his clever, well-written children’s stories into a ploy to sell as much tooth-rotting cereal and shoddy toys as possible.
In the 1950s, Barks created Uncle Scrooge and wrote hundreds of stories about his adventures. Barks got paid a meager salary for his work and the stories were always signed by Walt Disney. In the 80s when Ducktales became a big hit and fattened the pockets of all the execs at the house of mouse, Barks didn’t see a dime.
Nonetheless, I still have a soft spot for the show. I mean, at least it had a kick-ass theme song, right?
Well, actually, they ripped that off from Hall and Oates.
A week ago, I was in a bar when I heard the opening riff of “You Make My Dreams Come True.” I looked around in shock. I thought, why are they playing the theme to Ducktales in a bar? I mean, I wasn’t complaining, but it seemed a little incongruous.
“Whenever they play Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, I get down.”
Turns out the opening synthesizer riff in Ducktales is amazingly similar to the Hall and Oates song, and the chorus is similar too.
We’re not talking exact copies, but, come on! After stealing the ideas of Barks, didn’t those Disney bastards have enough money left to hire someone to write an original synth riff?
Compare the songs for yourself.
If only they’d given Scrooge Oates’ fro and mustache.
In 1976 there was a show called “Ghost Busters”, but it didn’t feature Slimer or Bill Murray. It featured two bumbling detectives and an ape. Or, rather, a guy in an ape costume. This show predates the Ghostbusters we all know by a full 8 years.
To make matters more confusing, after the success of the 1984 movie, the makers of the 70s version turned their show into a cartoon. Then a spin-off cartoon of the movie was produced, and they had to call it the Real Ghostbusters to differentiate it from the cartoon that was based on the show that predated the movie. Got all that?
Basically, it turns out that the writers of the film ripped off the name and basic premise of some shitty 1970s sitcom. Big deal. I mean, the stories are pretty different.
The real controversy here is the Ghostbusters theme song. The song is a clone of “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News. Seriously, it’s basically exactly the same, just with different lyrics.
Listen for yourself and tell me that doesn’t ruin your entire childhood.
Am I being melodramatic? Not really. I just have a profound respect for copyright law and Mr. Huey Lewis.
I know what you’re thinking. Beck is not a figure one normally associates with childhood. But when I was ten-years-old, I could sing all the lyrics to “Loser.” So, for me, his work is as much a part of my youth as Dr. Suess (after all, they both had a knack for rhyming and making up words).
I was with Beck when he went from grunge rapper to sassy funk-master to angst-ridden folk singer and back again.
So why is Beck a rip-off?
My epiphany about Beck was not unlike my epiphany about Ducktales.
I was in a Starbucks and heard what I thought were the first few bars of Beck’s “Jackass.” I began humming along cheerfully, before realizing I was actually listening to “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” a Dylan cover by Van Morrison. It featured the exact same riff as “Jackass,” 30 years before.
I know what you’re thinking and, yes, I know what a sample is. I think samples can be used to amazing creative effect. I think Beck just took a cool riff, sang some bullshit over it and called it a new song.
Also, you know the cover of Odelay? That thing that’s part mop, part shag carpet and all-parts horrible vision from my nightmares?
Turns out it’s a dog called a Komondor, a rare Hungarian breed. And Beck stole that, too.
No, he didn’t steal the actual dog, but it turns out that the band Bush used the same breed of dog in a similar pose as the inset of their album 16 Stone, a full 2 years before Odelay came out.
Okay, Beck, I know neither of these facts makes you an outright plagiarist or anything. I guess I’m being a jack-ass. You may have written some cool tunes. But I’m picking on you because you’re a scientologist. And I don’t like scientologists. You funky, melancholy bastard.