Lana Del Rey and Radiohead’s War in Their Minds

Radiohead (or publisher Warner/Chappell) may or may not be suing Lana Del Rey. She says they are and posted as such on Twitter and made comments from the stage in Denver that the Karma Police were coming after her and that she might just remove “Get Free,” the song in question, from the album Lust for Life.

Sure, the first time you heard “Get Free” you may have, even subconsciously, hummed “Creep” in your head. “Creep” comes from a time when Radiohead could have been a one-hit wonder, a fact that probably caused no end of neurosis in Yorke and company and may have caused them to retreat into impressionistic electro prog out of fear that they might one day again write another song that plays on the radio (especially after their near brush with the top 40 with the Clueless-featured “Fake Plastic Trees”).

But even the lawsuit, er, dispute here is borrowed.

In fact, Radiohead themselves faced charges of lifting the same chord progression and vocal melody Del Rey borrowed from them by songwriters Mike Hazlewood and Albert Hammond (Dad to The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr) from the 1974 Hollies hit the pair wrote. Radiohead ended up agreeing and settling with Hazlewood and Hammond, giving them a shout-out in the liner notes to Pablo Honey and a piece of the profits. The Hollies version bears the most striking resemblance to “Creep,” but the Hammond original—in which the chord progression likeness is less obvious but the vocal melody similarity is definitely still there—is worth a listen for its bitchin’ guitar breakdown and choral coda.

Which brings us from 1972 to today. And Del Rey’s confusion at the allegation.

Lizzie has always been an artist of collage and pistache—from portmanteauing her name from an Old Hollywood glamor icon and a beachy LA enclave to dropping bits of Lolita and J. Alfred Prufrock in her lyrics. She rolls down a pop culture landscape and gathers lots of moss, picking up bits and pieces of imagery, iconography, lyrics and sounds as she gains momentum.

Abert Hammond could not be reached for comment.

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