Friday, February 01, 2013

Neil McCormick files Observer piece for The Telegraph

Neil McCormick, friend of Bono, has given Telegraph readers a crash course in Kraftwerk.

Some readers got an uncanny sense of deja-vu. Didn't McCormick's piece, "Kraftwerk: the most influential group in pop history?" have more than a passing similarity to Jude Roger's "Why Kraftwerk are still the world's most influential band" that appeared a few days earlier in The Observer.

When challenged about this on Twitter by @theboylightning, McCormick invented a new irregular verb:

It's called sampling. It's the modern way. (I'll give you 2 sentences out of 1200 words on exactly the same story)
I sample, you lift, he/she plagiarises.

McCormick put his hands up to lifting a line from Rogers about a Melody Maker review. By this point, Jude had joined the conversation and pointed out that a big chunk of her research had turned up in his bit:
The huddling together of facts about Afrika Bambaataa, Uranium and The Model also rang a few bells. Ding dong.
McCormick claimed you can't write a Kraftwerk article without throwing those bits in. Which might be true, but it's the way they're folded in. Here's Jude in The Observer:
Afrika Bambaataa fused the melody of Trans-Europe Express and the rhythm of 1981's Numbers to create Planet Rock, one of hip-hop's pioneering tracks. Trailblazing electro group Cybotron used a loop from 1977's Hall of Mirrors; its founder, Juan Atkins, would create techno, and from there came modern dance culture.

Back in Britain, New Order would sample Uranium on Blue Monday, while synth-pop inspired by albums such as 1978's The Man-Machine would set the decade's pop mood. Kraftwerk would even get a No 1 single, The Model, in February 1982, four years after its first release. It was if the world was finally catching up with them.
And here's Neil's scamper through the history:
Afrika Bambaataa’s groundbreaking 1982 hip-hop dance smash Planet Rock was built around Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express. The same year, Kraftwerk’s The Model hit No1 in Britain, four years after its first release. In 1983, New Order sampled Kraftwerk for their breakthrough dance rock hit Blue Monday. By the end of the Eighties, a whole new dance scene was emerging.
It could be coincidence, but it doesn't half read like a precis.

McCormick then offered an even more bizarre defence:
I figured, who actually reads both the Guardian & The Telegraph (apart from me obviously)
I'm sure Neil didn't mean to make that sound like "I didn't think I'd get caught", (and interesting that he doesn't appear to know what paper the article was originally in) but it does sound a bit like that. In much the same way his Telegraph piece sounds a bit like Jude Rogers in The Observer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I believe Neil McCormick, or at least his superior, should be immediately sacked for allowing such an unoriginal feature idea to get to the ink stage, I also believe Jude Rogers should not be so precious about her copy. The subject matter here is an established musical entity of some 40 years, and many of the facts offered to us humble little readers of pop history who know absolutely nothing, is already well and truly out in the public consciousness. I am not a huge fan of Kraftwerk, or even hip-hop but was already completely aware of Trans-Europe Express being extensively sampled in Planet Rock. Rogers is a great writer and makes a brilliant point in referencing the Melody Maker's 1975 review. Maybe she was the first to make this particular point, maybe not, but I believe it be fair game in the business of newspaper hackery for McCormick to use such a point, and indeed quote it. Hmmm..yes..maybe he should have referenced Jude too, but it's not a professional nor legal requirement.

I'm glad Jude Rogers has brought the Telegraph man to task, but feel it could have been handled a little better. I followed the twitter trail, initially, with some amusement. But alas I now feel it has become something that is more akin to a 6th form common-room power struggle, tedious and a tad embarrassing. And it hasn't helped that Rogers' "journo" allies, especially those from the supposed left-field publications who we all know were bullied at school, have waded in too. For me it seems such a display of pseudo-righteousness comes from a dark and unhealthy dislike, even hatred for McCormack because of his oft-documented allegiances to his friends U2 more than anything to do with a supposed plagiarism. Weird!

Let us not forget, yesterday's Kraftwerk feature whether it be in the Telegraph or Guardian, is today's toilet paper. Well, in my local pub it is.

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