I was thinking about songs that use samples on my walk home from work the other night and how my opinion on them has evolved. At first, I found them terribly lazy and considered them as nothing more than just looking for a familiar hook to sell their otherwise unremarkable song. But in the end, I finally acquiesced and accepted them as part of the musical landscape. I decided to write a “7 songs” post of songs with samples and honestly, this was a much harder post to write than I initially thought. Since samples are primarily the domain of rap and R&B – two genres I don’t listen to much – rather than straight up pop music, it was difficult to find examples. Difficult, but not impossible.
1. Madonna / “Hung Up” – song sampled: ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
This is a very obvious choice coming from me, but I have to hand it to Madonna (or probably more accurately, her producers) because this is just an effortless use of a sample. It accomplished something that’s nearly impossible in sampling – I’ve almost completely forgotten it’s a sample. Whenever I hear the ABBA song, I have to stop and remind myself that Madonna sampled ABBA, not vice versa. It wasn’t the first time Madonna used a sample, but it is still my favorite instance of her doing so.
2. Destiny’s Child / “Bootylicious” – song sampled: Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen”
At first, I didn’t think this sample worked at all. But the more I listened to it, the guitar riff from “Edge of Seventeen” fits right in on this song. Getting Stevie herself to appear in the video was nothing short of a coup, but I kind of think that she’d be all over it, considering how much money she probably made from their use of her song. Rediscovering this song put me on a (very brief) Destiny’s Child kick. I don’t care what you say “Independent Women” still kicks serious ass. (confidential to you know who: I still don’t think it was embarrassing that you were busted with this song on your work drive, although it is a great story!)
3. Eminem / “Sing For The Moment” – song sampled: Aerosmith’s “Dream On”
Now we’re getting into the most familiar territory for sampling – rap. I can’t handle most rap, but rather inexplicably, I actually like a little bit of Eminem now and then. Samples abound in his music – perhaps the best one is the Dido sample of “Thank You” in “Stan.” However, since that song got used in the “7 Songs: Tell Me A Story” post, I picked a different one. Sampling the classic Aerosmith track “Dream On”, “Sing For The Moment” was one of my favorite songs of the summer of 2003 which is, amazingly, almost 10 years ago.
4. Simply Red / “Sunrise” – song sampled: Hall & Oates “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”
This little known (in the U.S.) song shows how subtly a sample can be used. The Hall & Oates sample just kind of floats nondescript in the background. It’s not quite as “out there” as the ABBA sample in “Hung Up”, but I think it’s just as effortless.
5. Janet Jackson / “If” – song sampled: The Supremes’ “Someday We’ll Be Together”
Dear God, if anyone is the reigning queen of samples, it has to be Janet Jackson. Starting with the Janet. album in 1993, I’m pretty sure that more songs have samples than don’t. At first, this kind of pissed me off. But not surprisingly, I came around to it and have embraced the samples in Janet’s music with gusto. Can you imagine “If” without The Supremes sampled into it? (although demerits for using The Supremes twice on one album since “You Want This” samples “Love Child.”) I also have to give honorable mention to “Someone To Call My Lover” – fantastic.
6. De Souza & Shena / “Guilty” – song sampled: Barbra Streisand’s “Make It Like A Memory”
Probably the least well-known song with the least familiar sample, I couldn’t bear to leave this song off the list because the sample totally makes the song. Honestly I wouldn’t have been interested in “Guilty” had it not been for the absolutely brilliant use of the disco-y part of the last song on Barbra Streisand’s Guilty album, “Make It Like A
Mammary Memory.” Listen to it here. The sampled part starts at 5:40. What a crazy song to sample! However, it turns an otherwise generic dance song into something I’m still listening to 4 years after its initial release. Oh, and the video is insane, but in a very very good way.
7. Celine Dion / “I’m Alive” (Wakeup Mix) – song sampled: Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”
Adding a Blondie sample to this Celine Dion song is just thing it needed. “Heart of Glass” gives this song a kick in the pants and I like this version so much that every time the album version comes on, I’m a little bit disappointed. (Yeah, I really do kinda like that A New Day Has Come album. F***ing sue me.) Even admitting to liking a Celine Dion song or two is the guiltiest of all pleasures for guys, but hey, what can I say? She can sing the hell out songs, and when she kicks it into second gear and gets away from boring ballads, I almost have to like it.