A dark cloud was cast over the NME office the other day when a new song from Joss Stone played on the stereo. My stomach curdled exactly 2:07 minutes in. Why? I heard that instrumental sample from Eminem‘s ‘My Name Is..”, its boingy brilliance desecrated. It’s one of the first tracks that got me seriously into hip-hop. I remember vividly listening to it again and again on a steam train at Beamish Museum in the North East while eating toffee. Now all I could taste was sacrilege.
Anyway, I was completely wrong and it wasn’t a sample at all. Eminem sampled ‘I Got The…’ by Labi Siffre and Stone’s song is actually a cover of that 1975 groove. Cool pop fact: it features legends Chas & Dave on guitar and bass, although Siffre was keen to point out to me yesterday on Twitter that he actually played on that part too.
Still, it got me thinking: what are the worst samples ever? You know – those snippets of absolute classics lifted and placed in cow pats? The instrumentals that should have been locked up and preserved for eternity instead of getting into the mucky hands of Flo Rida? It’s time to name and shame.
1 Simply Red’s ‘Sunrise’ samples ‘I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)’ by Hall & Oates
Say you’ve got this absolutely delicious, massive Knickerbocker Glory in front of you. It’s dripping with rich cocoa chocolate sauce, maple syrup and wild strawberry coulis made by angels in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It’s studded with shards of Ferrero Rocher and edible diamonds. You’re about to tuck in when Mick Hucknall pitches up with a spoon and removes everything from the plate except a spoon of vanilla ice cream. Yeah, that.
2Devlin ft. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Watchtower’ nicks Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’
I played this with the window open and a passing flock of seagulls dropped dead.
3 Professor Green’s ‘I Need You Tonight’ pilfers INXS’ ‘Original’
Stephen Paul Manderson (Prof’s real name) is guilty here of a common sample crime: relying on someone else’s song and bringing absolutely bupkiss to the table. I suppose we can be thankful that he left ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ alone.
Even if Will Smith is a guilty pleasure of mine, this sampling is outrageous. It cheapens one of the greatest dance tracks of all time and the rocket bleeps at 2.33 are nowhere to be heard. See also: Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Wish’ in ‘Wild Wild West’.
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5Take That’s ‘Kidz’ vs The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’
If you’re going to sample, don’t choose a song by one of the greats. It’s a sunny afternoon in hell.
Yeezy’s third number one song contains a vocal sample of ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ by French house duo Daft Punk. The original is masterful, Kanye’s is just anodyne. Why mess with perfection?
7Ironik does Elton’s ‘Tiny Dancer’
I’d love to have seen Elton John’s face when he heard “Ironik’s” pilfering of his classic hit ‘Tiny Dancer’. But he must have given the Camden rapper (whose Twitter bio reads “Please don’t be offended if I don’t reply or follow you, But I Love you!”) permission which begs the question: how many flowers does a millionaire need?
It baffles me why ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’ wasn’t kept away from Flo Rida AND The Chipmunks’ dirty paws. Mr Rida changed the rhythm of the 1985 banger which is, I’m sure you agree, unforgivable.
Is nothing sacred?
10Nas ‘I Can’ goes all out on Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’
Nas is usually a don at samples. ‘Get Down”s sampling of James Brown’s ‘The Boss’ is one of the greatest. The rapper’s use of this 19th century banger is heavy-handed and cheesy.