A special brand of clones are movie theme songs. Or more precisely sequel theme songs. Often film studios exploit a sequel as “the same film but with more explosions”, likewise they give the soundtrack the same treatment for a quick cash in. And like you try to keep the characters the same, you want to keep the audio backdrop the same and recognisable. Sampling, covering, a tribute and some times blatantly stealing become justified.

The most famous and often cloned song are obviously the James Bond opening songs. Don’t confuse these with John Barry’s James Bond theme song however, since this usually precedes the opening credits. No, the big epic songs by famous musicians usually have a distinct style that not only use the same instrumentation but often roughly the same build-up. Compare You Only Live Twice (1967) by Nancy Sinatra and The World Is Not Enough (1999) by Garbage for instance. It should be noted that, though performed by a wide range of artists, all of the recent themes are the work of composer David Arnold and the Bond films are heavily formula driven.

While the first Rocky film from 1976 has a signature theme song by Bill Conti (Gonna Fly Now), the band Survivor did the theme song for Rocky III in 1982; Eye of the Tiger. When Survivor got asked to also do the music to Rocky IV in 1985, the composed a similar song in composition and feel: Burning Heart. When the job of composing the soundtrack for Rocky V in 1990 came to some one else, the first thing you notice in the track by Joey B. Ellis is the fact that it indirectly samples Eye of the Tiger again in Go For It while the style of the track is very similar to The Power also from 1990 by Snap. Snap was also on the full soundtrack of Rocky V.

Like with Rocky, theme songs often get updated to fit the current popular style of music. When the original Ghostbusters film from 1984 got a sequel in 1989 with Ghostbusters II, the theme song from the original, Ray Parker jr.’s Ghostbusters, got a hiphop treatment by Run DMC also titled simply Ghostbusters. The original Mission: Impossible theme song to the 1960’s tv-show fitted perfectly in its time with the James Bond-style spy tune. When it got made into a film in the 1996, the Mission: Impossible theme was quickly adapted by U2’s Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen to a more electronic version. When Limp Bizkit got to do it in 2000 their song Take a Look Around again borrows from the original but with a totally different spin.

The list of example is endless. Feel free to comment about the ones you know, love or despise.

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