In perhaps the biggest backlash against an unfamiliar artist since that whole “Who is Arcade Fire?” thing, One Direction fans took to the Web this week to defend their favorite band against The Who. Rumors swirled that the classic band wanted “Best Song Ever” banned for its similarity to “Baba O’Riley,” but The Who’s Pete Townshend stepped forward quell their fears.
Directioners were stirred into a frenzy, reportedly after Click Music wrote in July: “We find the 1D team resorting to plagiarism once again as The Who’s ’Baba O’Riley’ is sterilised and repackaged for fans who probably don’t know any better.” The author called for readers to report copyright infringement on the 1971 jam to the U.K.’s Trading Standards.
Fearful that The Who would take punitive action against “Best Song Ever,” Directioners took to Twitter to express their distress using the hashtag #donttouchbestsongever.
Some, like @karlea2001, begged with the powers that be: “#donttouchbestsongever they worked hard on it!! Don’t you dare remove it!” said. Others, like @sairaomar2, attacked The Who — who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 — implying that they are irrelevant: “then at ur funereal, nobody will show up bcuz everyone will be like the whos? who dat? #DontTouchBestSongEver.”
"The Who is trying to get BSE removed from YouTube" "The who?" "Exactly" #DontTouchBestSongEver
— Hasan Küçük (@RealHasanKucuk) August 15, 2013
But Who band member Pete Townshend put an end to the dustup, issuing the following statement:
No! I like the single. I like One Direction. The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we’ve all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don’t mean great music — not always. I’m still writing songs that sound like ’Baba O’Riley’ — or I’m trying to!
It’s a part of my life and a part of pop’s lineage. One Direction are in my business, with a million fans, and I’m happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by The Who. I’m just relieved they’re all not wearing boiler suits and Doc Martens, or Union Jack jackets. The funniest thing is that in Canada this year I met with Randy Bachman, once the leader of The Guess Who, who told me that he not only copied ’Baba O’Riley’ for [Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s] hit ’You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’, but he even called his band after us. Why would I not be happy about this kind of tribute?
After “Best Song Ever” leaked back in July, MTV News noted the song’s striking similarity to “Baba O’Riley” and reached out to producer Julian Bunetta about the track. He told us, “At a certain point we recognized it had the same type of intro where there’s a synth and a piano, but we really tried to make sure that there was no intellectual property stolen or anything like that.”
This isn’t the first time that One Direction has paid tribute to a classic band. In 2012, their song “Young” was compared to the Clash’s hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”