I have to confess, as mean as it sounds, i find this personally gratifying on a couple of levels. My daughter (Todzilla) is a tyrant, and will only have certain radio stations on when we’re pootling about in the car (Capital, mostly.) This means i’ve heard much more of Sam Smith’s stultifying warbling than i would ever care to have listened to if left to my own devices ( I don’t have anything against the guy personally, but CHRIST ON A BIKE, is his music dreary and stale.)
On the flip side, I have to listen to Absolute Radio when I’m at work, and part of their questionable ‘No repeat guarantee’ seems to involve a legal requirement to play Petty’s track every single bloody day. This means I’ve had that bothersome “this sounds like something else, but i can’t quite picture it” feeling for quite sometime now.*
As tempting as it is to put the boot in, as a musician i would advise against presuming that this was a deliberate act of theft. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been super-chuffed with a melody line I’ve ‘created’ only to realise 24 hours (or so) later that it is in fact a slightly modulated version of something written by Masato Nakamura or Peter Hook. It really doesn’t seem beyond reason that Smith’s brain may have borrowed some distantly remembered music overheard in a shopping centre or break room without him consciously realising it.
Mind you, once a track like this has gone beyond the artist, you do have to wonder how it can get past entire teams of production and marketing people (etc) without anyone noticing that it’s dangerously similar to something else. Hmm…
*If i’m honest, the issue I have with both songs is the ridiculously repetitive nature of radio play listing, but that’s another story altogether!