The terms of this courtroom are simple. You will be presented with two songs, one by the plaintiff and one by the defendant. It is your task to decide if the defendant’s track is only coincidentally similar to the plaintiffs or, as members of the Bar Association put it, shenanigans have been pulled. You have been duly instructed.
Today’s docket: Bobby McFerrin, plaintiff vs. 4 Non Blondes, defendant
Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy from Cocktail Original Soundtrack (1988)
The complaint: Even though the key is different, the overall melody of “What’s Up?” is exactly the same as “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, an international phenomenon released four years prior, 4 Non Blondes!
4 Non Blondes – What’s Up? from Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (1992)
The defense: It is a different key but it is a song built solely on verses, no choruses. Structurally, there are bound to be similarities, but anybody with ears can hear two distinctly different tunes!
Let’s go to the videotape…