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Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Monday: Be Careful What You Sample...

Truth Hurts is an American R&B singer and songwriter named Shari Watson.  Her one top ten hit came off her 2002 album Truthfully Speaking, a track with title Addictive.  An amazing piece of music in its own right, Addictive would have been one of very few chart-topping hip-hop tracks with South Asian influences.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTjPmgN98H8

Wilson's Addictive was though a remake of Kaliyon Ka Chaman Jab Banta Hain by UMI10 and featuring Indian actress Meghna Naidu.  The track in fact borrowed so heavily from the 2000 song that even the video was a close simile.  While Kaliyon Ka Chaman Jab Banta Hain was itself a fabulous track and wildly popular among South Asian youth, the absence of an English language version prevented crossover to the American market.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTPz7_AW5zk

Unfortunately for Wilson though, her production of the track contained an uncleared sample of the song Thoda Resham Lagta Hai, originally performed twenty years previously by record-breaking by Hindi artist Lata Mangeshkar.  Copyright holder Saregama India Limited filed an infringement lawsuit against Wilson's record company, requesting US$500 million in damages.  Eventually a judge ruled that Wilson's record was not to be sold without proper attribution to Mangeshkar.

The producer on Wilson's track, DJ Quik, claims to have stumbled on the melody one night on a Hindi station on television, most likely the video of Kaliyon Ka Chaman Jab Banta Hain.  What he probably didn't know or realise at the time was that the performance he saw did indeed sample one of the over 30,000 songs that Lata Mangeshkar is purported to have recorded.

According to her Wikipedia entry, Lata Mangeshkar, born September 28, 1929, is one of the best-known playback singers in the Hindi film industry.  Her career started in 1942 and has spanned over six and a half decades.  She sang in over a thousand Bollywood movies and has performed songs in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and foreign languages, primarily in Hindi.  She is the elder sister of the equally accomplished singer Asha Bhosle and lesser-known singers, brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar and sisters Usha Mangeshkar and Meena Mangeshkar.  Lata is the second vocalist ever to have received the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.

Mangeshkar was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records from 1974 to 1991 for having made the most recordings in the world.  The claim then was that she had recorded no less than 25,000 solo, duet, and chorus-backed songs in 20 Indian languages between 1948 to 1974.  That record was eventually challenged by Mohammed Rafi who claimed to have sung around 28,000 songs.  After Rafi's death, in the 1984 edition, the Guinness Book of World Records stated Lata Mangeshkar's name for the "Most Recordings", but also cited Rafi's claim. Later editions of the Guinness Book continued to state though that Lata Mangeshkar had sung no fewer than 30,000 songs between 1948 and 1987.  Interestingly enough, Mangeshkar herself has no idea from whence Guinness got their numbers, saying too that she keeps no record of the number of songs that she has recorded.

No matter the official number, Mangeshkar's original song Thoda Resham Lagta Hai is itself a very beautiful piece of music.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCcXHGVDLdc

Have a fantastic Music Monday all!

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