I talked about clone songs a while back. There is yet another example from Dutch pop music that illustrates this point well.
Around 1998/1999 car-brand Mitsubishi aired a TV-commercial that featured music by a temporarily formed duo called City to City. The band name references to the fact that both band members (Maarten van Praag and Sandro van Breemen) have a city in their last name. Not only is their band name quite appropriate for a car commercial, so is their first and only hit single: The Road Ahead (Miles of the Unknown).
But if you listen to the song, the feeling creeps up on you, that you’ve heard this music before. Even the references to roads and cars somehow strike familiar. And you would be right. You might remember a video that (ironically) does not have a wide open road, but a traffic jam as its setting: R.E.M.‘s Everybody Hurts from 1993. Listen to both songs and you’ll notice: same instruments (especially the use of strings and percussion on the opening), same build-up, same mood, even almost the same melodies.
The single The Road Ahead topped the Dutch charts for 4 weeks and was #4 of best sold singles in 1999. The band City to City won the Edison (Dutch equivalent of a Grammy) for Best National Newcomer for that year. They released two more singles which failed to achieve any similar result, before City to City effectively split in 2002 when one of the two members left the band. The song The Road Ahead still shows up in the annual Top 2000 (best songs of all time list, compiled with votes from the listeners of Radio 2), usually somewhere between #500 and #900.
Here’s City to City – The Road Ahead:
And just for comparison, here’s R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts: