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Same Old Song? – Why Great Songs Need A Rewrite For The New Generation

“All we do as songwriters is rewrite the songs that have impressed us till we find our own voice.”

– Steve Earle

Whenever I go visit my mom & dad I take the train. It’s a great opportunity to do some research for whatever I’m working on at the moment.

Today I didn’t have anything to work on but as I was listening to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” I was thrown back to a songwriting lesson I held back in 2013.

I made a casual remark about how “Love Story” is basically a modern rewrite of Dire Strait’s “Romeo & Juliet” which back in the day was a modern take on the classic love story by Shakespeare and probably another song I don’t have a reference to.

Taylor Swift - Love Story

And they called it puppy love.

Now that I’ve finished the course The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture” I saw it through a slightly different lens.

Just as superheroes are modern versions of old myths (some of the characters are even based on gods) and stories handed down through the generations, so are songs.

At first I thought about taking a look at my old catalogue to pick out a few of my favorite examples but then I thought: “Well, why not just look at Billboard Hot 100 list and see if anything pops? (Ye, pun!)”

Here’s a list, you can check up the lyrics and see what similarities they have and how the lyrics and story are molded to fit contemporary language and audiences.

Jason Derulo “Want To Want Me” & Cheap Trick “I Want You To Want Me”
Major Lazer “Lean On” & Bill Withers “Lean On Me”
Natalie La Rose “Somebody” & Whitney Houston “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”
Sia “Elastic Heart” & Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive”
Nicki Minaj “The Night Is Still Young” & Men Without Hats “Safety Dance”
Fall Out Boy “Uma Thurman” & “The Munsters Theme”

Ok, I got a teensy bit carried away with the last two but you get my point, right?

There’s nothing wrong with updating and rehashing old themes, stories and songs. Every generation needs their own version of it to connect to.

I’m fortunate in that I can appreciate both the oldies and the newbies. In fact, I think Derulo’s “Want To Want Me” is my summer jam this year.

Do you have any favorite songs, movies, books etc you’ve noticed are either based on old ones? Or if it’s an old one then what’s the modern version of it?

Let me know in the comments and hit me up on Twitter.

Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!

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