According to billboard.com, Closer by Chainsmoker has topped the billboard for 12 weeks, making its way to most popular song in 2016 (Trust, 2016). Trust added “Closer” remains the top-selling, most-streamed and most-heard radio song in the U.S. It has been played on the radio repeatedly for the past three months, and people are still obsessed over it. The reason why it has been so popular is, according to Lucas Sachs, content and social media manager at dance music publication at youredm.com, “It was just a perfect storm of capitalising on trends and doing stuff a little bit differently than other people have” (usatoday.com). However, there were a significant viral debate online whether Chainsmoker’s Closer sounds similar to rapper Fetty Wap’s song called 679, which is produced in 2015.
“The beginning of the chorus is replaceable by the beginning of innumerable other choruses” (Adorno, 1941: 303). If you listen closely to the lyrics of Closer and 679, they basically sound exactly the same. genius.com actually made a video comparing the two songs, saying the only difference is that Closer is in A-flat major and 679 is in D major, with the same notes. They then played the two songs together and it sounded like a remix of some sort. There is a link below to prove how extremely similar those two songs are. The problem is some people refuse to acknowledge the differences, saying that it is totally different. Lucas Sachs claimed that “It’s a really catchy melody, it’s not too complex, but at the same time, it’s something new that people really haven’t heard before”.
Simon Frith (1996:9) on Performing Rites: On the Popular Music expressed that most people when identified as fans, claimed to listen to music in a different way than “ordinary” or “passive”. However, Frith (1996:6) also pointed out that pop listeners constantly changed their minds on what is good and what is bad according to how successful the record is, or what other listeners it involved, in a way, they determined a good song based on the social value of it, not the actual song. In this case, Fetty Wap fans have expressed themselves on multiple media platforms, that Closer is a “ripoff” because it sounded exactly the same as another successful pop songs. On reddit.com, people accepted that pop music is “bound to sound the same”, because it is what makes it catchy. Similar comments on the original article on genius.com that they were not surprised on how repeated pop songs are, that this was not the first case, plus provided several other examples of artists “copying” each other.
On the whole, I think it is debatable how “active” or “passive” when it comes to listening to music. It is true that some famous songs are extremely similar with the same tunes, yet people still recognised the similarities, some even creatively made a mash up between songs. Fiske (1987:20) does not believe that “the people are cultural dopes, they are not a passive, helpless mass …”. The issue is raised that whether popular music repeats itself over time is because the relationship between production and consumption of popular music is very complicated, that most authors have undervalued the importance of the consumption in the creation of musical meaning (Longhurst, 2007: 256).
Adorno, T. (1941) On Popular Music, Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, New York: Institute of Social Research, IX, 17-48
Fiske, J. (1987) Television Culture, Methuen.
Frith, S. (1996) Performance Rites: On the Value of Popular Music, Harvard University Press
Longhurst, B. (2007) Popular Music and Society, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Devoe, N. (2016) The Internet Thinks the Chainsmokers Stole Their Hit “Closer” from Fetty Wap http://www.seventeen.com/celebrity/music/news/a42998/the-internet-thinks-the-chainsmokers-stole-their-hit-closer-from-fetty-wap/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2016]
Nostro, L. (2016) Did the Chainsmokers copy a Fetty Wap’s song on their #1 hit “Closer”.
Available at: http://genius.com/a/did-the-chainsmokers-copy-a-fetty-wap-song-on-their-1-hit-closer [Accessed 9 Nov. 2016]
Ryan, P. (2016) Why The Chainsmokers’ ‘Closer’ is the biggest song of 2016.
Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2016/11/02/chainsmokers-halsey-closer/93111416/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2016]
Trust, G. (2016) The Chainsmokers’ ‘Closer’ Tops Hot 100 for 12th Week, Rae Sremmurd & Drake Hit Top 10. Available at: http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/7565848/chainsmokers-halsey-closer-hot-100-drake-rae-sremmurd [Accessed 9 Nov. 2016]
Did The Chainsmokers plagarize Fetty Wap’s “679” melody? Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/hiphopheads/comments/4vwa1j/did_the_chainsmokers_plagarize_fetty_waps_679/
[Accessed 9 Nov. 2016]