Context is Everything

So today I have two pieces of music for you. The first is the background music for “Ice Cap Zone” from Sonic 3 on the Megadrive:

The second is an unreleased track called ‘Hard Times,’ written by obscure 80s New Wave act ‘The Jetzons’:

So what’s going on here? Plagiarism? Not quite – Jetzons keyboard player Brad Buxer went on to arrange music for both Sonic 3 AND the Michael Jackson album Dangerous. As Hard Times ended up on the cutting room floor, it shouldn’t surprise too much to find that Buxer wanted to recycle the incredibly catchy arrangement. As someone who writes chippy stuff, I think this does provide us with quite an interesting case study: Here we have two pieces that are musically almost identical (aside from the lyrics and some of the timbres,) yet I’d wager most people would probably think you a far cooler person if you were caught listening to the obscure new wave track then if you were caught listening to the classic chip tune.

Context changes everything, i suppose.

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