Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The scent of plagiarism

I'm not sure how to categorise this: strange cultural/musical crossover, I suppose. I admit to liking a lot of Europop, and just ran into the above: "Я люблю тебя" ("Ya lyublyu tebya" = "I love you") by ГиллерА (GillerA, who I think is/are Ukrainian; the song is all over the Russian/Ukrainian videoclip circuit, but with no sign of creator details). It's a very nice track: upbeat and bright, yet rather wistful. It's accompanied, however, by a majorly incongruous SF video, about an evidently alien/superpowered woman (vital stats including ferrum, helium, uranium, hydrargyrum, cuprum and copernicium ain't normal) who gets loose in a laboratory and zaps the staff with mindcontrolling/aphrodisiac fluence from her hands.

Whatever its intrinsic merits, however, it's causing considerable annoyance to fans of the French singer Mylène Farmer. As reported in the online magazine .evous - Mylène Farmer: Le clip de ’Dégénération’ plagié par une chanteuse ukrainienne! - the video for "Я люблю тебя" is heavily derivative - shot for shot in places - of that for Farmer's "Dégénération" ("Degeneration") in which an evidently alien/superpowered woman gets loose in a laboratory and etc etc. Here's the video - it's NSFW, but far less explicit than it looks.

It's hard to take sides on this. While the video for "Я люблю тебя" is clearly based on that for "Dégénération", the song should be judged on its own merits: it's pleasant light listening, as good in its own way as "Dégénération", a far darker techno/electro piece that reached No. 1 in the French charts. I very much like both tracks. The "Dégénération" video, in addition, itself contains in one section a close visual similarity to a previous work: the scene in Luc Besson's film The Fifth Element in which Leeloo escapes after her regeneration, so its makers aren't entirely on the moral high ground about borrowing.

There is a possible book connection; at least one commentator - Erwan Chuberre, in the book Mylène Farmer: Des mots sur nos désirs - thought the "Dégénération" video also drew inspiration from Patrick Süskind's novel Perfume, in which the perfumier Grenouille escapes execution by releasing an aphrodisiac scent, sparking a whole-town orgy.

- Ray

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