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Music Blog: Old vs. New

Instead of following “out with the old and in with the new,” the music world has decided that the old can actually make the new. There is a new and growing trend for popular music artists to take background music and choruses from famous older songs. Some of these combinations work, by doing justice to the original songs, while others are a poor imitation of what was once great. Are we living in a musical era of unoriginality or are artists simply improving already great classics? Here I examine four examples of this musical phenomenon.

New Song: “Young Forever” by Jay-Z
Old Song: “Forever Young” by Alphaville

Giving this 80s classic a hip-hop twist worked amazingly well, but you can’t expect much less from a legend like Jay-Z. He uses the original music, as well as the chorus from “Forever Young” by Alphaville. It may seem like his method lacks creativity, but in reality, it adds more than a popularized radio beat could. Jay-Z is also amazing to listen to because of his lyrical originality and rap expertise.

New Song: “The Time (Dirty Bit)” by The Black Eyed Peas
Old Song: “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
Trying to turn this timeless Dirty Dancing hit in a Black Eyed Peas single was probably one of the worst things to happen to radio recently. Not only are the lyrics downright dumb, the beat is a clubbing disaster. I would rather not listen to Fergie singing about how she has had a really great time, when I could be watching Jennifer Grey actually having the time of her life with Patrick Swayze. With this song The Black Eyed Peas have turned the five minutes spent listening to it into the worst time of my life.
New Song: “Sugar – feat. Wynter” by Flo Rida
Old Song: “I’m Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65
The original song, “I’m Blue (Da Ba Dee),” is not quite a classic, but we did grow up with it. Everyone remembers “if I were green I would die,” and other lyrical improvisations. Flo Rida uses the chorus of this song in his version, “Sugar,” but I don’t really understand why. His song is about someone being “sweet like sugar,” yet nowhere in the lines, “I’m blue da ba dee da ba di” does anything about sugar appear. The Flo Rida song would be fine without that chorus, but with the inclusion of it, it feels as though it is just an exploitation of a song we used to love.

New Song: “Otis” by Kanye West & Jay-Z
Old Song: “Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding
These two hip-hop elites came together to create this tribute to Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness.” Kanye & Jay-Z use Redding’s original singing for the chorus and incorporate their creative rap lyrics flawlessly to make quite a dance-worthy beat. If you’re going to re-do a famous old song, follow Kanye and Jay-Z’s lead by creating a song that actually honors the original singer!
I say let’s not tarnish any more classics; unless you’re a hip-hop god like Jay-Z, stick with creating original songs.

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