Billie Eilish ‘s “Bad Guy” and The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” Share More Than a Riff
Billie Eilish, known for her unique and innovative approach to music, has managed to create captivating tracks by subverting the old into something new. Her hit song “Bad Guy” is a prime example of this artistry. With just a baseline and a couple of notes, the song’s simplicity and forward-thinking production make it both catchy and refreshing.
The riff in “Bad Guy” bears a striking resemblance to the iconic 1965 song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones. Both songs use a similar rhythm pattern where two notes are played in harmony with the beat, followed by an off-beat section of the riff. This creates a melodic call-and-response effect that adds to the catchiness of the songs.
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Despite the initial similarity, Eilish takes the riff in her own direction. She incorporates syncopation to keep the listener engaged, even introducing a lazy humming in a slightly different key to add an element of surprise. The absence of a traditional chorus in “Bad Guy” and the focus on sound production rather than conventional music structure highlight Eilish’s modern approach to songwriting.
Eilish‘s ability to seamlessly blend timeless musical sensibilities with her own innovative twists showcases her prowess as an artist. Like many great musicians before her, she borrows from the old while injecting her unique creativity, resulting in tracks that are both nostalgic and cutting-edge. As Nick Cave aptly put it, contemporary music thrives on the “devil-may-care attitude toward appropriation,” leading to the continuous advancement of the art form.
Whether intentional or not, Eilish’s connection to a classic riff underscores her understanding of music’s foundations, enabling her to effortlessly merge the basics with her trailblazing innovations.