It Sounds Like Someone Else’s Song (From a Long Time Ago)

Posted December 1st, 2007 by Kevin Langston · 5 Comments

Paste Magazine got some attention on the interwebs this week for naming The National‘s Boxer the best record of 2007, but contributing editor Jeff Leven got in on the list making with “The Greatest Riffs of the 21st Century (So Far)”.

“To make its way into the canon of great riffs alongside, say, ‘Purple Haze’ or ‘Smoke on the Water,’ a riff has to be more than just acrobatic, fierce or played at high volume,” Leven says. “It has to become ubiquitous, a touchstone, a shared reference point for guitar freaks and casual fans alike.”

And what reference points does Leven offer?

  1. “Seven Nation Army” ~ The White Stripes
  2. “Take Me Out” ~ Franz Ferdinand
  3. “No One Knows” ~ Queens of the Stone Age
  4. “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” ~ Jet
  5. “Float On” ~ Modest Mouse
  6. “American Idiot” ~ Green Day
  7. “Talk” ~ Coldplay
  8. “Last Resort” ~ Papa Roach
  9. “Hate to Say I Told You So” ~ The Hives
  10. “Circle of Cysquatch” ~ Mastodon

Ignoring the fact that Leven says “Float On” has a “feel good riff for the ages,” I am bugged by the idea that he openly acknowledges in his notes that Coldplay “borrowed” their riff for “Talk” from Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love.”

I suppose we can’t call it “ganking” so long as Mr. Paltrow & Co. admit to their theft in the X&Y liner notes. But beyond that, Jon Buckland has never struck me as a particularly skilled guitarist — at least not on the level of Jack White, Josh Homme or some of the others on this list. I mean not to pick on the poor man, but his playing is the antithesis of everything Leven says a good riff should be. Besides, there’s a lot to be said for the fact that Buckland’s only on this already shaky list because his band had the good sense to lift a riff from a relatively obscure group that isn’t exactly praised for its innovative guitar work.

Tags: lists

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sara // Dec 1, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    and correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t Jet totally steal the riff in that song DIRECTLY from “Lust for Life”?! this list is bogus X 100.

  • 2 Tara // Dec 1, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    I’ve always thought that Jet riff sounded like the one in the White Stripes song ‘Screwdriver’. Not exact, but close.

  • 3 Rachel // Dec 2, 2007 at 2:44 am

    and i always thought “Lust for Life” was a rip off of “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

    hm.

  • 4 Joachim // Jun 16, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    The base line and drums in Jet’s “Are you gonna be my girl” are similar to “Lust for Life”, which in this respect is also similar to “You can’t hurry love”.

    But the prominent guitar riff in “Are you gonna be my girl” is almost 1:1 the same as in the White Stripes’ “Screwdriver” on their 2001 self-titled album. Since the Jet album is from 2003, you could call it a rip-off, I guess. But then again the two riffs may have been invented independently from each other, who knows.

    But anyway, if the list is only about guitar riffs in the 21st century, it should feature the earlier (but admittedly rather unknown) “Screwdriver” instead of Jet’s hit single, just to be fair.

  • 5 ft // Aug 22, 2008 at 7:18 am

    I stumbled onto this blog because I’ve been searching for a song. I think it was from the 80’s and that it was in Fast Times (but not on the soundtrack).

    Anyways, the riff from this song sounds a lot like the riff from QotSA’s No One Knows. Only a little faster.

    Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.