I’ve talked about clone songs; when artists copy the style and sound of a song without using the actual notes and lyrics, for quick financial gain because of instant-recognition by the audience. Taking that up a notch is when it’s not other artists borrowing the sound, but the same artist makes nearly the same song twice.
True, most artists have a recognisable ‘sound’. You can instantly recognise a U2 song, even when Bono isn’t singing. You might notice a gradual change in that sound making it easier to discern a song from the 80’s or 90’s. But most people will argue it’s not the same songs, unless you really hate the artist.
But some times when an artist scores one hit single, the pressure is on (usually from the record company) to replicate that success and as fast as possible too. In the rush, the same song that brought success earlier is grabbed, some notes are rearranged and some new lyrics are written and hey presto the new hit single that sounds very recognisable.
A very good example of this are Technotronic, because they didn’t do it just once but twice. Technotronic is a Belgian producer Jo Bogaert and an assortment of rappers who have lended their vocals for the tracks. In 1989 the hit Pump up the Jam came out of nowhere. For the video they used a girl to lip sync over Ya Kid K‘s vocals. Interestingly though a year before in 1988 one of the grand masters of house music, Farley Jackmaster Funk, released the track, The Acid Life. Undeniably, the music from Pump up the Jam is borrowed heavily from The Acid Life and should be considered ‘The Original’.
Since Pump up the Jam did so well, a string of single was released in 1990. The first two following Pump up the Jam were Get Up! and This Beat is Technotronic. If you listen to those three songs in sequence and ignore the lyrics, you notice the instrumentation, the buildup, nearly everything is identical. So much so, that there’s a video on YouTube that is labelled as Pump up the Jam but is ‘clearly’ Get Up! . And even though This Beat is Technotronic contains a male vocalist, you can still hear a female singer sing ‘Get Up’ in the song. Confusing innit?
With the track Spin That Wheel, there finally became some variation in the music, but Technotronic was now named Hi Tek 3 (same vocalists, same producer). When they went back to using Technotronic, they finally used a totally different sounding song: Rocking over the Beat (all still in 1990!). But by now, Technotronics triumph parade was over. Technotronic has kept releasing singles well until 2005, including a Megamix and a remix of their Greatest Hits every few years. Or should I say Greatest Hit?
Still, a lot of artist are considered one hit wonders. At least Technotronic became a one hit wonder with three songs, including this one: Technotronic – Pump up the Jam: