Is Ariana Grande just a renovated Mariah Carey? Are Brendan Urie and Patrick Stump dating—or are they the same person? The truth is out there.
Though all music borrows in some way from other music, sometimes bands or artists just sound and/or look uncannily similar to each other.
These similarities raise pressing questions: how and why do these bands sound so alike? Could there be some dark secret behind their successes, some cloning initiative launched once music industry executives realized they could just repackage the same artist under a different name and double their profits?
Regardless of how much of the truth you're willing to see, this list exposes pairs of bands or artists that not only sound the same but also seem to occupy the same cultural purpose, performing the same symbolic and emotional roles for fans everywhere.
1. Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys
Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys are different bands. It's a proven fact. And yet are they? They both feature singers with mid-range voices and vaguely Southern drawls. They both use grungy guitars that sound like they've been filtered through a litany of overdrive pedals. They both make songs that have lyrics—but are the songs really about anything, or are they both just kind of sad attempts to fill the hole created by rock and roll's death?
Objective facts tell us that these bands are indeed different—Cage the Elephant opened for the Black Keys on several tours, and Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach produced Cage the Elephant's 2015 album and their new 2019 single. But is it so hard to believe that some rip in the fabric of the time-space continuum created a world in which two slightly different iterations of the exact same band can walk around at the same time? Even some of their biggest hits like "Gold on the Ceiling" and "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" are eerily similar, both relying on ominous bass lines and sparse, punchy guitar hits.
The Black Keys - Gold On The Ceiling [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com
Cage The Elephant - Ain't No Rest For The Wicked (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
2. Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande
They both have stratospheric ranges, prima donna pop culture royalty and/or meme status, and impressive whistle tones. Sure, Ariana's music is tailored to the ultramodern era, whereas Mariah's occupied a similar space in the late 90's and early 2000's pop canon, but they both embody the image of the magnetic, radiant, super-talented starlet with an only slightly infuriating trail of number one hits.
Mariah Carey Vs. Ariana Grande SAME AGE Vocal Battle! (UPDATED) www.youtube.com
3. America and Neil Young
If you've heard the band America's number one hit, A Horse With No Name, chances are you might have wondered if you were listening to one of Neil Young's early collaborative efforts. But Young and Dan Peek, the late lead singer of America, share little else than a slightly nasal tenor voice, a penchant for dreamy folk rock, and dozens of harmony-laden albums from the 1970s.
America - A Horse With No Name+Lyrics www.youtube.com
Neil Young - Harvest Moon www.youtube.com
4. Radiohead and Muse
They're both obsessed with technology, paranoia, apocalypses, and thematically complex concept albums. Ultimately Radiohead's breadth and range of sonic textures far outdoes Muse's, but on some of their better-known songs, Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy's desperate and wailing voices could easily be mistaken for one another, especially when they're both crying on about fear and loneliness in the digital era over dizzying layers of synthesizer. Plus, it would fit well with both of these bands' brands if they were replicants of each other.
How Much Does Muse Sound Like Radiohead: Analysing Composition, Style, and the Radiohead Zeitgeist www.youtube.com
5. Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes both have a propensity for multi-layered trippy, ambient folk. Their lead singers have high, delicate voices that sound like they're emanating from a distant cabin, wafting towards you on waves of campfire smoke. There's a whole battalion of folk bands that sound like these two, but as pillars of the genre, the similarities between indie's leading foxes and bears are difficult to ignore.
I'm Losing Myself (Feat. Ed Droste) by Robin Pecknold www.youtube.com
6. Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco
Patrick Stump and Brendon Urie both have irrationally massive vocal ranges, which they use to create passionate, angsty, climactic jams that have been giving voice to tween girls' pain for decades. They actually have collaborated several times—even on a Coke ad, which you can listen to in its full glory as each of these singers attempts to out-belt the other. Both bands formed within three years of each other (Fall Out Boy in 2001, Panic! in 2004) and occupied similar cultural spaces in their respective golden years. Fans have even shipped the two lead singers together. Plus their specific vocal styles spawned dozens of shaggy-haired copycat frontmen.
Drunk History: Fall Out Boy featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco www.youtube.com
Fall Out Boy Ft Brendon Urie from Panic! at the Disco - Don't Stop Believing cover www.youtube.com
7. Avril Lavigne Pre and Melissa Vandella
Everybody knows that Avril Lavigne died and was replaced by a clone of herself, created by deft industry people who couldn't resist the potential profits of more Sk8r Bois. Still, the clone does sound and look remarkably similar to her predecessor, despite the obvious differences (Melissa prefers dresses and skirts, while Avril favored pants; and Avril would never have married Chad from Nickelback). Very impressive, music industry executives, but we're onto you.
Conspiracies: Did Avril Lavigne Die in 2003? | Pigeons & Planes Update www.youtube.com
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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