Coldplay Accused Of Ripping Off "Viva La Vida"

Less than 48 hours after just about sweeping the 2009 Grammy nominations with seven nods, Coldplay have had the wind taken out of their sails a bit with yet another accusation of plagiarism involving Record of the Year nominated song “Viva La Vida”.

It’s not the first time (Brooklyn outfit Creaky Boards said Chris Martin saw them at CMJ and ripped off their melody), but this time rock guitarist Joe Satriani is actually suing. Satriani’s copyright infringement suit, filed Thursday in L.A. federal court according to Reuters, alleges that “Viva La Vida” features “substantial original portions” of his 2004 instrumental track “If I Could Fly”.

Satriani wants a jury trial, damages and — we’re not kidding — any and all profits attributable to the alleged infringement. On the album liner notes, the song is credited to singer Chris Martin, bassist Guy Berryman, guitarist Johnny Buckland and drummer Will Champion, and its title was apparently inspired by a Frida Kahlo painting.

Who knows what a judge will find, but until it makes it that far, you be the judge. The 50-second mark in “If I Could Fly” is where things get interesting, according to Rolling Stone.

Joe Satriani – “If I Could Fly”

Coldplay – “Viva La Vida

Joe Satriani

POSTED December 5, 2008 7:38PM IN THE TRIPWIRE Comments (45)




  1. Eduardo says:

    joe Satriani musical genius.

  2. kelli says:

    coldplay definitely ripped him off, there’s nothing original about that band

  3. bella says:

    i don’t really think that they ripped off Satriani’s song. there is only a couple of notes that sound the same and Viva La Vida and there are tons of songs that have a couple of notes in common. I personally think that If I Could Fly is nothing like Viva La Vida.

  4. Chris says:

    bella, take the cotton out of your ears, the chorus section is identical.

  5. Thom says:

    I’ll admit there are some similarities, but definitely not identical…my question is why he waited so long to bring the suit…seems a little convenient to drop it right after the Grammy nods…

  6. Jay says:

    No case there, Joe. It’s similar but it’s not like he was the first one to come up with that chord progression. Definitely seems accidental. Coldplay don’t even seem like type who would ever listen to Satriani.

  7. C says:

    No case whatsoever. I can see inspiration coming from Joe, but there are only so many combination’s that can be made on a guitar. It’s going to be an interesting (albeit biased) case.

  8. Mo$ says:

    Coldplay ripped it off…and Chris Martin is a big douche dancing in that video.

  9. God says:

    Coldplay wins. It’s plain and simple. Joe just wants in on the money. Greed gets you no where. Good music does.

  10. HOBO JOE says:

    Coldplay ripped off Kraftwerk’s song “Computer Love” too. Not that I have anything against Coldplay, but they have ripped off quite a few songs!

  11. miek says:

    What a lot of BULL! COLDPLAY RULES

  12. chris h says:

    hey ‘miek’, learn how to spell your name in ALL CAPS and then please explain why it’s ok for Panda Bear to tell the world he built ‘Bro’s’ on Cat Stevens/Tornadoes riffs/samples or Bruce Springsteen to do the same with several songs on the Rising (“Mary’s Place” is directly inspired by Sam Cooke’s “Meet Me at Mary’s Place”; “Let’s Be Friends” takes musical form from John Mellencamp’s “Cherry Bomb” and Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover”; and the gospel-like “My City of Ruins” is reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”) – but when it’s Coldplay’s turn, they just act like a bunch of pompous eff-tards??

    Awfully daft of you, ALL CAPS, awfully daft.

  13. ERIN says:

    What is our world coming to? Who cares if they did end up ripping a few chords from Satriani? Isn’t that a compliment?? GOOD LORD SATRIANI GET A LIFE

  14. luke says:

    remember when they ripped off Alizee?

  15. Embark says:

    The best compliment would have been a check! Thats way more than a few chords, the intro and bridge are damn near identical..

  16. Cinlyn says:

    Get a life Joe. Yes there are lmited similarites…but I can hear similarities in a LOT of music. Cold Play’s song is awesome…yours, while nice listening, is pretty boring. I’d never buy your CDs. I have all of Cold Play’s. How can you even think they ripped off YOUR song? NOt enough…

  17. Steve says:

    Cinlyn…. you are a moron. I actually have music from both groups… but no longer will I buy anything from coldplay… anyone with any objectivity can tell the whole underlying melody is from satriani.

    As far as ERIN….i’ll throw you into the same moron bin as Cinlyn… yeah…get a life.. how ’bout seeing how you feel once you create something, then some asshats come along and completely rip off what you created.

  18. Jerome says:

    Best song for ages. Never heard of Satriani. The songis about words and music, it is the lyrics which do it for me, definitely surreal. They are the lyrics of a dream., but what a dream!
    The arrangement is brilliant. The song is haunting me!

  19. G says:

    Rubbish, all these nobodies trying to blacken a good song just becuase it sounds vaguely similar!
    you think oof all the songs out there that have ever been done, your gonna get plenty that sound the same, only Coldplay will really know if they ripped anything from anyone but i think Coldplays song is far superior to any version they were supposed to have ripped!

  20. diana says:

    I have limited knowledge about the making of songs and music. I did hear some similarities, some. But, Coldplay sounds so much much much better !! The lyrics are amazing.

  21. Dev says:

    So blatantly ripped off from Satriani one of the great guitarists. Typical commentaries from those younger generations thinking this is ok, they either don’t know their history and/or are just plain lazy and are used to plagiarizing in school anyhow and having their Momma’s come yell at the teachers for failing them and then wipe their Butts for them also.

  22. MMS says:

    Did Jerry Rivera get any of the sales revenue when Shakira sampled his horns melody from “Un Amor Como El Nuestro” for “Hips Don’t Lie” with Wyclef Jean?

    Did P. Diddy give Sting any of the proceeds from “I’ll Be Missing You”, which sampled the mega-hit “Every Breath I Take”?

  23. annie says:

    omg coldplay are the best they didnt rip anyone of , its the other way around divvvys

  24. Vin says:

    Not that they’re the pinnacle of originality, but I seriously doubt Coldplay (or anyone outside of Guitar Center) spends their time sitting around listening this trash.

    Mr. Clean is angling for a settlement.

  25. PAYOLA says:

    MMS? the answer is yes, all cases were settled amicably…there is no way in hell you could use something so obvious as “Every Breath You Take” without financial settlement. The laws were looser then as it wasnt common but that certainly wasnt for free.

  26. philsy says:

    dev it is obvious to me that you have never written music let alone verse. and yes joe can play a little but he sure as hell isn’t clapton or page and if hendrix was still alive……………….. oh well we won’t go there. i just don’t think coldplay needs to be ripping anyone off. do you really think they sat down and set out to steal notes from someone? oh that’s right those notes are floating around out there for free. i would bet if you sat down with the beatles catalog you could find something that sounds similar to something joe has done or is doing. did he rip the fab 4 off?

  27. steph says:

    To some of the people posting here, keep in mind just because you *like* an artist over another OR *like* a song over another, doesn’t make it right for an artist to steal from another. I’m not saying Coldplay did or did not steal from Joe Satriani! The fact is that you can’t say “Coldplay is a way better band therefore it’s NOT plaigarism” or “Satriani is a guitar great therefore it IS plaigarism”. Please, make intelligent assessments before passing judgement as those are irrelevant arguments!!

  28. drunkmonk says:

    u cant deny they sound the same…

  29. drunkmonk says:

    the verve were sued by the why cant this happen?

  30. tom says:

    The two songs do sound similar, but I’m pretty sure that every comment on here is completely biased. The people who say that the two songs are identical (no matter what part of the song) obviously hate Coldplay because they leave some obnoxious comment like, “there’s nothing original about that band,” or, “Chris Martin is a big douche dancing in that video.” At the same time, the people who say its probably an just accident will drop a comment trying to arouse suspicion about Joe Satriani such as, “seems a little convenient to drop it right after the Grammy nods,” and, “Rubbish, all these nobodies trying to blacken a good song just because it sounds vaguely similar!” You guys should seriously just get on with your lives and stop caring about what people you have never met think about you or a band that you like.

    The 19th century German philosopher Hegel said that intellectual property rights should be loose to encourage new art and technology. So, you should all just shut up, because you are just lowering social welfare. assholes

  31. Solly says:

    The first song; “If I could fly”, gave me nothing. All I heard was guitarplaying, and nothing else. “Viva la Vida” is one of the most magical songs I know. Coldplay made the so-called copied song become a whole different experience. The instruments, the way they built it up and the text makes me happy, and I never get enough.
    Someone likes “If I could fly” with Joe Satriani and others like “Viva la Vida” with Coldplay. Knowing that the songs fit for differnt people, doesn’t that make the songs different?

  32. catherine says:

    I had never heard of Joe Satriani until I came across this news article. I’ve since listened to his track a few times, and I can’t say that if I’d heard it before knowing about the fuss it’s creating, I would have related it in any way to Viva la Vida.
    Similar maybe but plagiarism it is not.

  33. O says:

    There is nothing original about Joe Satriani’s Chord Progression or melody in the chorus. Except maybe the tacky guitar solo sound. I have no love for Cold Play, but both the chord progression and the melody are so generic in both songs that you could just as easily claim that Joe Satriani was the one who ripped off his song from people before him. Just my 2 cents.

  34. doc says:

    the melody was stolen from satriani no doubt and as for the rest of the record, good job coldplay for making every song sound like a loop with guitar solos that are the same riff over and over, great way to make a record.

  35. david says:

    yeah, i like coldplay but that is a shameless rip… not as shameless as massive attack’s “black milk” pinching manfred mann’s “tribute”… but that instrumental has the melody that they use for the chorus… plain and simple…

  36. ride fan says:

    Coldplay rips off everyone. The ones from the top of my head are:
    In My Place is a rip of Ride’s Dreams Burn Down
    Talk is a rip of Computer Love by Kraftwerk
    This Satriani track is a clear rip (at least the intro chords and chorus)

    There are others, but I can’t recall them all at this moment…

  37. ride fan says:

    @drunkmonk Verve got sued by the Stones because there was a sample in the song that wasn’t cleared…the law is different with samples versus covering a song versus pretending you wrote a song that someone else wrote…

    You can pay for samples (though you need permission to use them) and you can pay a fixed “mechanical royalty” per record sold for a cover (but you don’t need permission for a cover). The only way you can get away with stealing a song is playing it in a different key or something. I think that’s how ppl that make commercial music are able to copy a song but not have to pay the original writer.

  38. Dandelion says:

    This can’t be a coincidence…

    it’s IDENTICAL


    also… lol at young kids who don’t know who Satriani is

  39. Lee says:

    Both songs are pretty weak and generic. I haven’t heard either one before today, but Satriani’s seems to have a lot more oomph to it with the guitar instead of the keyboards & weak strings.

    Maybe it’s like patents — Coldplay didn’t rip Satriani off, but he got there first, so they should compensate him.

  40. norf says:

    that’s a pretty ridiculous claim, given the nature of music – especially popular music – which is one of imitation, emulation and development … all vital aspects that got us where we are today and will continue for as long as there’s music being made. there’s no arguing that satriani’s a great player, but for him to claim that he’s the only one allowed to use that simple riff [which isn't even "identical" between songs] is absurd. copyrighting chord changes is pretty hard to do, so that’s not really the issue here. but think of all the blues artists who play similar riffs. think of all the dance music with similar themes. i just find this kind of thing really petty :/

  41. lee says:

    lets say for the moment coldplay did take a few strings from him. i think coldplay played it off better, Satriani plays the guitar well infact very well. but i think viva la vida is better, infact the whole album is just great. i went and sampled somne of Satriani music. must admit i never heard of him untill this court action came up. but i bet now more and more people like me will start buy his music. COLDPLAY,Satriani keep the good music going guys ?
    Probably wont be liked for saying this by the Satriani fans. but everyone to there own…

  42. Will says:

    Check out Alan Cross’ (Canadian DJ and an expert on all things rock n roll) 2 part radio episode of his series The Ongoing History of New Music called Plagiarism or Unfortunate Sonic Coincidence, interesting stories on bands like Oasis, Nine Inch Nails, etc. Satriani may consider suing Ocean Colour Scene for their song Up on the down side, or Ocean Colour Scene should consider suing Coldplay depending on when exactly these songs were written (I know OCS pre-dates Coldplay, don’t know about Satriani). Check it out.

  43. Rifall says:

    Cinlyn said:
    Get a life Joe. Yes there are lmited similarites…but I can hear similarities in a LOT of music. Cold Play’s song is awesome…yours, while nice listening, is pretty boring. I’d never buy your CDs. I have all of Cold Play’s. How can you even think they ripped off YOUR song? NOt enough…

    I COMPLETELY AGREE. Before this suit, I never heard of Joe Satriani! But EVERYONE I know here has heard of Coldplay. So, I cannot see how Coldplay would hear of Satriani. Plus, there are so many songs that share the same common elements that are being sued over. Check Youtube, there are a million videos on the subject.

    I cannot believe people calling Satriani a legend even though little to no people have even heard of him.

    Coldplay wins.

  44. puddleshark says:

    I’m with commenter ‘O’ – I also thought the similar tune section is so generic and unoriginal it may well sound similar out of sheer co-incidence rather than actual copying. That probably doesn’t say much for Coldplay’s songwriting (me-ow).

    And part of me is pleased they are getting sued as it seems they have ripped off many people’s ideas. The one I noticed was ‘Til Kingdom Come’ on the X & Y album being an unbelievably weak but obviously deliberate and knowing copy of what Johnny Cash was doing on his late-ish album ‘The Man Comes Around’. The sounds used, the guitar rhythm, the feel of the lyrics – have they no shame, don’t they realise people listen to and adore Johhny Cash? I was hugely offended by this and Coldplay fell even lower in my estimation – as until then I’d just considered them a very boring and overrated act.