Question 1: Straight-up stealing from other artists: genius, or laziness? Discuss.
Question 2: "Believe" by Cher: is it the single nexus of sound responsible for the nigh-hegemonic, Anteres over-pitch-corrected weirdly post-disco sound found in all top-40 music today? Discuss.
Besides that, what have we got? I find the cheesy synth, casio-keyboard beat concoction of this song to be strangely compelling--it's something I've heard literally a million times before, yet I still can't quite place all the sources. In addition to the hyper pitch correction and other robotic-vocal effects (apparently these guys have gone into interviews and pretended to be robots, in true Tracy Jordan style), there are some neat tricks, both with rhythm (e.g. landing on "never over" at the end of several phrases) and instrumentation (e.g. the portamento keyboard voice, the fingertapping electric guitar voice, both of which I assume are MIDI triggers). 30 seconds of intro with all the dynamics EQ'd out, as if we're listening to tiny, tinny speakers. But the rest of the song doesn't really have a huge dynamic range, and sounds tinny and cheesy by nature, so it doesn't really "pop" when it actually comes in. Is this purposeful/a miscalculation/indicative of the fact that these guys just throw every musical trick they've ever heard at the wall and see what sticks?
What do we learn about stealing?
- Leave a gap--the clever folks and critical darlings making music right now seem to be taking sounds from the late 70's/early 80's, so what's that--25-ish to 30 years (By that calculation we're due for a major popular resurgence of Michael Jackson's Thriller right about now)? You sound like Stevie Wonder's Inner Visions, you're a genius. You sound like the late 90's, you're a no-talent hack.
- Steal outright, whole-cloth. Do what it takes to reproduce the sound of the era at which you're aiming. Don't worry about also sounding current--you seem to get that for free.