Does One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’ copy Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’?

British boy band One Direction, shown during the Teen Choice Awards recently in Los Angeles, has been supported by the Who's Pete Townshend in a debate over similarities between its hit "Best Song Ever" and the Who's "Baba O'Riley."
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Twitter is blowing up today over One Direction’s hit “Best Song Ever,” with hundreds of fans posting messages to the hashtag #donttouchbestsongever -- and that’s just in the last 10 minutes.

The tweets are flooding in since a blogger in England pointed out a similarity between the opening to the 1D hit and the Who’s 1971 rock classic “Baba O’Riley” and suggested that somebody in the British government take the group to task for lifting the musical motif.

“Someone should call Trading Standards over the song title as 1D sterilise The Who‘s ‘Baba O’Riley’,” the unidentified contributor at wrote.


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“At a certain point we recognised it had the same type of intro where there’s a synth and a piano,” One Direction producer Julian Bunetta has said, “but we really tried to make sure that there was no intellectual property stolen or anything like that.”

One Direction fans, as if in the old game of “telephone,” ratcheted up a thousandfold by the Internet, quickly began protesting over what they perceived as a campaign to ban the song, others bashing the Who under the erroneous assumption that the veteran group had sued the younger band.

Now the Who’s chief songwriter and lead guitarist, Pete Townshend, has come to 1D’s defense and posted his official blessing for “Best Song Ever.” He also noted that the Who doesn’t hold ownership on the chord progression that “Best Song Ever” uses.

“No! I like the single. I like One Direction,” Townshend writes on the Who’s official website. “The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we’ve all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don’t mean great music -- not always.

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“I’m still writing songs that sound like ‘Baba O’Riley’ -- or I’m trying to!” he continued. “It’s a part of my life and a part of pop’s lineage. One Direction are in my business, with a million fans, and I’m happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by the Who. I’m just relieved they’re all not wearing boiler suits and Doc Martens, or Union Jack jackets.

“The funniest thing is that in Canada this year I met with Randy Bachman, once the leader of Guess Who, who told me that he not only copied ‘Baba O Riley’ for their hit ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,’ but he even called his band after us. Why would I not be happy about this kind of tribute?”

Maybe a new hashtag is in order: #wholikesbestsongever?

Here’s One Direction’s video, which recently set a new Vevo record for the most views in 24 hours, with 12.3 million hits:

And here’s a link to “Baba O’Riley,” with the musical theme that’s under discussion kicking in at the 42-second mark.


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Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2


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