Nostalgia Sells Well But At What Cost?

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Nostalgia is a powerhouse tool for selling a product. This could be seen in throughout modern pop culture trend of recycling trends from a decade or two ago such as “identifying  as a 90s kid,” the increase of the classic car sales, and the astronomical prices people are willing to pay for them as well, and the trend of modern musicians recreating retro sounds in there newest albums, such as Bruno Mars, and his slew of 80s funk influence tracks ranging from Uptown Funk to Treasure, and Carly Rae Jepsen with her album Emotion, a phenomenal pop album that is a pure throw back towards the 80s with the influence from former artist such as Kate Bush, Bruce Spingsteen, and Cindy Lauper. The latest group to join this wave of nostalgia is the band Greta Van Fleet, a hard rock group with blues influence with a guitarist that plays like Jimmy Page, a vocalist that sounds exactly like Robert Plant, and a drummer who plays on the exact same drum kit as John Bonham. One major criticism of the group is that they sound exactly like the classic hard rock group Led Zeppelin where the question has become where does influence end, and where does copying begin? Even with such criticism, the band still found its way to crawl its way towards the top three on the billboard charts for five weeks. With the nostalgia wave still going strong, one has to ask, what is the cost of continuing to look back at the past? Instead of looking for new progressions, and key combinations, artist are constantly looking towards the past to reach a nostalgic moment in there listeners. This creates an issue of originality where artist are rehashing old tracks to create new. The distinction between being influence and plagiarizing is getting muddied the more, and more artist strive for music the insight nostalgia. Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke were sued for copy write by the Marvin Gaye estate over the song Blurred lines seeming too similar to the Marvin Gaye song, Got To Give it up.   Both songs sound similar but the bass, the instrument used to move the song forward is played at  down beat in an A key in Got To Give it Up, while Blurred Lines base is played at a down beat, a whole step down at G. Another differnce in the use of base is how exactly it is used Blurred Lines use of base is used exclusively for the hook throughout the song. Got To Give It Up uses base to drive the song, and to accent the vocals. While on surface the two may sound the same, they differ a lot through song structure, especially through the use of vocal. Marvin Gaye uses his vocals for the hook, the attention grabber for the song, Pharrell Williams, and Robin Thicke use their vocals for the rhythm. Even with such technical differences in the songs structures, Marvin Gaye estate was able to sue Pharrell Williams, and Robin Thicke for over 7 million dollars. Blurred Lines is not the only song that may enter legal trouble as Bruno Mars song Uptown Funk is also facing a copy write claim by multiple artist for sounding too similar to tracks such as Funk You Up, Young Girls, and Oops Upside Your Head. With artist turning towards creating songs that have an older sound for nostalgic purpose it shows that while profitable, it could be potentially at high risk for copy write infringement as there are only so many times a familiar nostalgic sound could be reinvented.

Retro styled image of boxes with vinyl turntable records on a flee market