R&B singer rips off Hotel California

Rising R&B singer Frank Ocean is in some hot water after releasing his single, “American Wedding,” in which he used the music from the Eagles’ 1977 mega-hit “Hotel California.” Ocean recorded his own lyrics over the original track without getting permission and although it was originally released without a label, Def Jam is preparing for its commercial release. Ocean, however, doesn’t think he did anything wrong. “[Eagles frontman] Don Henley is apparently intimidated by my rendition of ‘Hotel California.’ He threatened to sue if I perform it again. I think that’s f***** awesome,” Ocean wrote on his Tumblr page. “I didn’t make a dime off that song. I released it for free. If anything, I’m paying homage.” As it turns out, the legendary rockers don’t agree with Ocean’s take on the matter. “Frank Ocean did not merely ‘sample’ a portion of the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California,’ he took the whole master track, plus the song’s existing melody, and replaced the lyrics with his own,” the band’s rep said in a statement to the L.A. Times. “This is not creative, let alone ‘intimidating.’ It’s illegal. For the record, Don Henley has not threatened or instituted any legal action against Frank Ocean, although the Eagles are now considering whether they should.”

“American Wedding” is not available for download on iTunes and the audio has been disabled on a YouTube video of Ocean performing the song live. But watch the video below of someone doing a cover of Ocean’s track to see what all the fuss is about.

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Comments & Discussion

  1. DD • March 5, 2012 @ 12:30 PM

    Wow, hard to believe he thought he could get away with this..I hear alot now that are like old songs..Lady Gaga Born this Way, another one that starts out to the tune of a Grease song..there’s not much good out there now except James Blunt, Adele on the radio.. Am looking forward to hearing Lana Del Rey CD.

  2. nah • March 5, 2012 @ 12:58 PM

    hey don henley and the rest of you old ding dongs, it’s 2012. cultural appropriation is the name of the game and you’re reeeeally showing your age by getting salty over this. rap music, particularly the mixtape aspect of it, has for years been founded on reuse of beats or songs. if anything you should be glad that someone under the age of 80 is going to hear your stupid song (i was raised with a don henley cd in my parents house but i’m damn sure most of my contemporaries couldn’t name a single eagles jam outside of this one)

  3. Musician • March 5, 2012 @ 1:34 PM

    Dear “nah” – It doesn’t matter whether its 2012 or 1912. This kid stole a classic song without permission…that’s all it comes down to. If he had goten the rights do it then it’s fine but you can’t just take someone’s music and throw your own lyrics over it and hope no one will notice. Good music should be about making your own music, not ripping off stuff that’s already popular. And for the record, I happen to know a lot of young people that are familliar with the Eagles.

  4. selassieanwar • March 5, 2012 @ 8:12 PM

    Actually it is common practice to reuse music and melodies from other artists songs, and not just in rap/hip-hop. The practice was very popular in the heyday of Motown and is still done today in other genres like Reggae. IP rights should only apply when it comes down to money, he made the song and put it out there for people to hear but he didn’t try to make a profit off of it. The article does say that his label is preparing to release it as a single, so I’m sure they were going to make sure everything was in order before officially releasing it as not to slight the eagles. I don’t understand the reaction honestly, I would be flattered, personally, but more importantly i think this is exactly the kind of thing that kills creativity and camaraderie among artists. What is the point of creating something and sharing it with people if it can’t be reused and built upon? Selfishness will be the end of us.

  5. TheTruth • March 6, 2012 @ 12:12 AM

    I like Frank Ocean, but that is just wrong. I wonder if he even gave credit to the Eagles before he performed that live.

  6. FrankRiver • March 6, 2012 @ 4:43 PM

    Isn’t frank ocean one of those odd future guys? They are all seriously messed up. I hope the Eagles sue them. If anything, Frank Ocean should spend less time fighting the Eagles and more time in the studio coming up with original content. All of the odd future guys are very overrated in my opinion.

  7. wtf • March 8, 2012 @ 12:45 PM

    Eagles are overreacting.. its not like Frank Ocean is making money out of it.. its just like making a cover for a song.. whats wrong with that? How did Bieber get known? by doing a covers of popular songs. Plus with Frank Ocean using the Eagles song is making them more popular for the people of our generation.

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