It seems impossible to imagine that a hit single by Disney teen star Miley Cyrus would have plagiarized a long-ago song by Raleigh punk band Th' Cigaretz. But as compared and contrasted by Comboland Radio's Mike Smith, hearing is believing. So take a listen and see what you think.
I have no idea how this would hold up in court, or what the chances are that any of the Cyrus song's four credited co-writers ever heard Th' Cigaretz. Still, there's no denying that there are some eerie similarities between the two.
UPDATE (12/2/08): Today I caught up with Byron McCay from Th' Cigaretz, and he professed to be stunned about having this fall out of the sky. But McCay actually remembers the night the band wrote the song in question, "Apartmental Living," 30-some years ago at their rehearsal space near the campus of NC State.
"Jerry Williams came up with that particular riff," McCay says. "I wrote the words, and the change that goes with the B chord -- 'I gotta go, I gotta move, I gotta find a new place to stay.' There are a lot of gray holes in my memory from back then. But for some reason, I remember that song pretty well."
"Apartmental Living" appeared on Cigaretz' self-released album "Tuff Kids." While it wasn't a big hit, McCay says "Tuff Kids" sold about 1,500 copies, mostly in Raleigh and New York -- a decent sum for a DIY album in the late '70s.
Of course, that's a tiny fraction of the million-plus sales Miley Cyrus has rung up for "Breakout," her album with "Fly on the Wall." Royalties for having a song on a platinum album would run into the mid-five figures, which doesn't include money for radio and television airplay. So McCay is going to contact his old Cigaretz bandmates; maybe they'll hire a lawyer.
"It's rather ironic," McCay says. "I'm writing country songs now. I've got one that would be perfect for Billy Ray Cyrus."
Perhaps Miley's dad can record that song as part of a settlement.