Friday, April 13, 2012

Ain't No One Can Fake It - Best of the Bruce Rip-Offs

When a musician breaks through, the money starts piling in.  And, as in any industry, once people start to see there is money to be made, they all start thinking "How can I get me a piece of that?"  So, they examine the successful musician, and see how they can replicate that formula.

This may sound cynical, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing.  For example, the success of The Beatles led to the "British Invasion", which paved the way for acts like The Rolling Stones and The Who to find their audiences.  As the saying goes, a rising tide floats all boats.  However, The Beatles phenomenon also created The Monkees, a campy cash grab assembled for the sole purpose of getting in on the scene.  

So, with the appropriate amount of respect a minor blog can offer these rich musicians, I'm going to take a look at some of the Springsteen-inspired knock-offs throughout the years.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band - Specifically, the above hit "On The Dark Side", which was written for the movie Eddie and the Cruisers.  Yes, the band is from New Jersey in the movie.  Yes, the band has a charming black saxophonist.   Yes, you are seeing the word "Spring" over Tom Berenger's head as he lip-syncs this song.  It is a catchy song, but clearly borrows a lot from "She's the One".

John Mellencamp - Before writing this entry, I tossed out the idea to the other Legends of Springsteen editors, to get their opinion on other artists who rip-off the Boss.  OB immediately responded, "Anything and everything John Mellencamp has said or done."  Fair enough.  Personally, I don't see him as a total Springsteen copycat, but rather as an exaggeration of one specific aspect of Springsteen's personality.  It is like someone took Springsteen and dialed up his working man roots to 11, and then removed the rest of the politics, anger, and sadness.  

Bon Jovi's "Joey" - Another suggestion from editor OB.  While a lot of people associate Bruce and Bon Jovi due to their Jersey roots, they don't really share many similarities artistically.  However, this song owes a lot to the Born to Run album, as the piano sounds like a mix between "Thunder Road" and "Jungleland". 

The Killer's Sam's Town album - More and more young artists are getting influenced by the Boss.  Springsteen's name has been frequently dropped in interviews with Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and Win Butler of Arcade Fire.  However, there's a fine line between drawing inspiration from and going out of your way to mimic your heroes.  In the Killer's sophomore effort, Brandon Flowers did his best Bruce impersonation, telling stories about rivers and being wild.  I highly enjoy the album, but do often wonder what it would be like to hear the E Street Band play some of the songs.

Let us know what other artists you think owe a bit of their paychecks to the Boss in the comments!


  1. Nah, you're totally wrong with Mellencamp and The Killers.

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