Yoko Kanno = Plagiarism?

So I was going to play some Civ 4 with Nico and the gang today and I heard a familiar song coming from his room. I was like “oh hey, you’re playing Hooverphonic.” and Nico was like “zuh.”
Turns out the song he was listening to was Cyberbird from Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex (2002). I listened for a little bit and I was pretty freaking astounded. This was exactly like Battersea, from Blue Wonder Power Milk (1998). It had the same instruments, same tempo, same drum beat, same key, same kind of singing… so after I listened to THAT SONG, I connected to my library through iTunes and played Battersea. Everyone was like “you are totally playing the same song Jeffrey you must be joking.”
But man. I mean, the songs are different enough… but in terms of style, Yoko Kanno’s got some serious steeeeeaaaaling going on. Take a look for yourself:

edit I was totally beaten by a lot.


    1. Check out the sample comparisons on that thread. She must copy like all of her music.
      I wouldn’t call it plagiarism. She does compose her own stuff. It’s just, the style is SO amazingly similar that it tests the limits of intellectual property. Makes me lose a lot of respect for her.

  1. Wow, awesome find. Not exactly DEPRESSING, but yikes…sad that she completely jacked Hyperballad.
    Interesting this should come up today, too…Felix sent me this earlier (not quite the same, but some of the reactions are pretty similar).

    1. Yeah, but that’s SAMPLING, not copping the groove. It’s really obvious that Daft Punk remixed things like for HBFS… that’s why the album’s called “Discovery,” anyway. It’s a discovery of stuff they listened to as kids.

  2. even though they’re the same, they’re still very different.
    the only 2 things that are really the same are the drum beat and the key. the tempo, instruments, chords, melodies, voices, words, and moods, are all different.
    and they’re not different in the sense that they’re exactly the same with one minor difference. it’s like Yoko Kanno created everything from scratch using Battersea as a guide, rather than using battersea as a template; and so while everything is very similar, everything is still very different.

    1. Dude I can safely say that the tempo, instruments, chords, melodies, voice, and mood are very similar. They were made to sound like Battersea. I don’t really know what you’re talking about otherwise.

      1. the point i’m making is that they’re very similar, but not the same. they are different enough to be called different songs.
        Cyberbird’s tempo is 5-10 bpm faster. Cyberbird’s chords and melodies go up when Battersea’s go down. Battersea’s vocals are highlighted sad, while Cyberbird’s are highlighted energetic. a couple of cyberbird’s instruments are completely different from Battersea’s, while the rest are mildly different. Cyberbird even has a couple minutes of stuff that has nothing to do with Battersea, other than the placement of those couple minutes (when there’s no vocals)
        meaning, it’s not copying, and it’s not plagiarism, but you’re definitely right that it’s stealing (since she doesn’t credit the original songs).
        but also, by simply being aware of the fact that her songs are based off of other people’s songs, you can see that she still has her own style.
        basically, if she credited the original songs, there would be nothing wrong with it, and she would still be considered a good composer.
        but… she doesn’t. so… yeah.

        1. Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m getting at. I just remembered while walking to class today that I still mentioned “plagiarism” in this blog, and yeah, it’s not that. Later in my vlog I just mentioned it’s unoriginality and that’s sort of sad.

        2. in escaflowne there’s a song with the same chords bed that HOtel california the super well knwon song, i mean is as if a girl is singing another thing over the backing tracks of Hotel california
          in Arjuna we can find Edward Scissorhands
          in Loddoss war, Adieums
          and so forth
          i actually like some of her staff quite a lot, but i agree she should credit better her sources

  3. This thread is ancient, but I just found it.
    It’s little depressing, similar to when I became aware that Led Zeppelin did a lot of uncredited borrowing.
    I’ve read in interviews with film music composers that many times they’re given (by the director?) a ‘temp’ score of other composers’ music, and asked to do something similar.
    But wow, the examples (from the forum link, and youtube) are way beyond similar. Maybe her workload is too much!
    Now that I think of it, I also recall a web page devoted to listing all of the times Keith Emerson had borrowed/riffed on classical melodies, etc. A VERY long list, ha! Many his influences are in the public domain, tho.

  4. Hey Jeff,
    I accidentally read your posts on that forum while browsing the net for the truth about the whole plagiarism thing.
    Some of your comparisons does work its arguments however I have to fully disagree with the Hyperballad and Where Does the Ocean Goes? part. 90% is way too much. In my opinion it’s even less than 10% similarities.
    I’m a big fan of Bjork and Yoko for years and memorize their songs. I don’t find big similarities in those two.
    They used the ‘tapping’ sound but the sound is different in both songs. (Gah, I just wish I know the correct musical terms to help explain yself better.)
    Also, I ‘feel’ the music when listening to them and gotta say that the feelings emitted from those two song are different. Hyperballad is uplifting while Ocean is more mellow.
    Just giving my two cents here.
    I love Yoko Kanno and this news is really bothering me.
    I can only cross my fingers for her….

    1. Re: …
      I agree that it’s disappointing. But I don’t agree that it’s shocking and actually “stealing”. It is moral hypocrisy to be so nitpicking about it, or else you wouldn’t link to Youtube for legally uncovered samples or offer whole mp3s for download to compare. That’s just pathetic, but this bigotry can be found all over the net. A mob has found a victim for accusations and because the accused one is talented, everything is made more shocking and terrible than it usually would be.
      I think she is still a great composer who has done dozens of pieces and songs by herself and I also think that this plagiarism is actually covered either by some agreements or “rules”.

  5. Cyber Bird
    I believe that everyone regardless of what arts industry they are in has to have some inspiration or influences. Although I was surprised by the very similar tunes Kanno’s being the faster of the 2 songs, maybe it was just her take on the song.
    Either way if it was outright plagerism that would be very sad. I did like both songs though.
    Do you offer opinions on Bjork’s Hyper Ballad and Where does the Ocean go? Also another Kanno track.

    1. I stumbled across Bjork randomly and I really like her music and style. Dangerously cute when she was younger. But then I heard Hyperballad and three minutes later, I’m posting this comment on this random page. Yoko DEFINITELY stole it. Battersea also stolen. I wouldn’t mind at all if they were credited as remixes. But to leave no reference seems dishonest.

  6. Gah, I love Yoko Kanno, this is somewhat depressing. I don’t think anything groundbreakingly bad will happen to her though. Watch some of Kill Bill, especially the inside looks Quentin says in the DVD. He obviously just sort of took stuff from things he was influenced by. Well, he stole them and used them in his movie frankly. But he’s not being sued and nobody really seems to care all that much. If Quentin Tarantino is unfazed, then I doubt Kanno would be either.
    Different songs, but you can tell she was influenced. Hopefully she doesn’t do that sort of thing too often…

  7. In this case 0952 is actually newer than Rakuen. And I wouldn’t call this case plagiarism either, and I don’t think Rakuen was even an inspirational source for 0952

      1. hey, Im a Yoko kanno fan since I can remember… ive been researching about YK and came across this thread. I always had a kind of expectation towards YK, but when I think about it, most of the songs I heard from her gave me this feeling of familiarity,,, as if I heard it from somewhere else, I thought one time that that must be the reason why I like her so much because I heard her songs somewhere before or the structure of the melody is somewhat universal….. acutally the hyperballad from Bjork (not a fan) VS where does this ocean go?, gave me the creeps, like, ughh, what is this?.. Guess I should be careful when listening i guess. True enough YKs style and feel is unique,, but I dont know, something is just wrong, I dont know if its with her or with people not liking her, Im just saying maybe theres something that I dont know.

  8. Certainly not a dead thread 🙂 I came across the similarities just this week, although I have been a huge YK-fan because of her ‘diversity’.
    Like someone else put it on another site, I still am a fan, but because of her lack of originality I can’t just openly listen to her music anymore.
    And that’s a shame, because it’s like all the popmusic these days, you don’t do something REALLY different with the song (like sampling or covering), it just won’t be fun to listen to. I admired her immense range as a composer, but it’s just a wide range of musical interest.
    It’s not cool to find out her her major hits are blatent ripoffs of older material. Then again, it does solve the mystery of how she can switch styles so easily no?
    Suprised I don’t see any fanboy reacting on this thread..

  9. You’re complaining about plagiarism while illegally sharing mp3s to the world?
    Anyway, I’ve been looking for Cyberbird as it reminds me of Battersea, and it’s not in Spotify, so thank you for this ^^. I don’t care if they copy eachother, I wish more did

  10. the song you posted sounds like every drum and bass song with female vocals. She used a drum and bass beat to make the song sound modern. Of course they sound similar. However the chord progression and melody are completely different. This is not plagiarism. It’s not even ripping off the style. It’s a drum and bass influence purposefully invoked to establish a mood and setting, and I doubt she even heard this song.

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