I’ve Had The Time Of My Life & Do I Owe It All To Sandals.com Ripping Off The Beatles?

Yesterday (November 26, 2012) I posted about the Beatles, specifically, intros to Beatles songs.  I ended yesterday’s post with this:

The Beatles amped up the strong, loud and cutting intro with the song, “Getting Better” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The intro to The Beatles’ Getting Better features strong sforzando guitar and keyboard again but this time, in addition, the strings of the piano are struck with mallets to make it an even more brittle, piercing sound.  Because “Getting Better” has such a distinctive and unique intro, it could be used or imitated for special effect.

I heard (and saw) a commercial a few years ago that I knew immediately was a strong reference to the opening of The Beatles’ Getting Better.  This commercial is still running and can be heard frequently on U. S. television stations, and as of last week, I have finally been able to find it on YouTube.  Do you know the commercial to which I refer?

I’ll discuss it tomorrow.  To me, this commercial is the essence of “reference” and “referencing” music, an important practice in contemporary advertising.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Now it’s tomorrow (almost a Ringo-ism).  

The television commercial to which I have been referring is for Sandals.com.  In the commercial, young good-looking people are taking vacations in tropical locations.  (For nanosecond subliminal flashes, one also sees an elderly but healthy looking retired couple who might have escaped from their assisted living penitentiary and are also dancing on the beach.  But they don’t count as we are lead to believe that these Sandals paradises are inhabited only by the young and beautiful.)

A famous song, “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life,” recorded by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, that was featured in the finale of the 1987 film, “Dirty Dancing,” serves as the essential song of the commercial.  If one didn’t know better, however, one might assume that the Sandals.com commercial is for a song entitled, “Do It All Again,” or

perhaps a medley/mashup of three (3) songs  –

“Getting Better”

“(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”

“Do It All Again”

Listen to the introduction of both songs  –  The Beatles’ “Getting Better,” and the Sandals.com arrangement of “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.”  The forceful, repeated staccato chords.  Do you think they sound the same?  Similar?  Not similar ?  Not even remotely similar?

[PLEASE NOTE:  Today, August 17, 2013, I discovered that the Sandals link below had been removed – it was suddenly “Private.”  As of 11:30 AM Central, I found this new link of the same commercial.]

Sandals – Do It All Again    

Listen especially to the opening fifteen (15) chords.  Here it is again,

or to better fit into this context:

“Do it all again, do it all again.  Do it, do it!”

Sandals – Do It All Again

Listen to the opening eight (8) chords of  The Beatles – Getting Better.   Here it is again:

 The Beatles – Getting Better


Sandals – Do It All Again

 The Beatles – Getting Better

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Q U E S T I O N S 

Does Sandals sound like The Beatles?

Does Sandals rip off The Beatles?

Does Sandals infringe The Beatles?

Does Sandals sound too much like The Beatles?

Is the Sandals/Beatles issue a copyright problem?

Is the Sandals/Beatles issue a right of publicity problem?

Is the Sandals/Beatles issue an unfair competition problem?

Would a listener/viewer think that The Beatles are associated in any way with Sandals?

Is there a Sandals/Beatles problem?

Should Sandals have to pay The Beatles?

Should the Sandals commercial be no longer broadcast (in order to remedy The Beatles)?

Should Sandals pay The Beatles and stop broadcasting the commercial?

*  *  *  M O R E      Q U E S T I O N S *  *  *

Is this practice of sounding like/referencing well-known songs common?

Is this practice of sounding like/referencing well-known songs in commercials common?

Is this practice of sounding like/referencing well-known songs problematic?

Is this practice of sounding like/referencing well-known songs in commercials problematic?

Is this practice of sounding like/referencing well-known songs the same as “copying?”

Is this practice of sounding like/referencing well-known songs in commercials the same as “copying?”

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Instead of The Beatles and/or a famous song, substitute an unknown band signed to a small record label, and an unknown song, in all of the questions above.

Would this change any of the answers?

I have many more questions but this is enough.  As always, I look forward to your response.

7 Replies to “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life & Do I Owe It All To Sandals.com Ripping Off The Beatles?”

  1. Good points, Michael. I agree that the Sandals commercial intro is very similar to/derivative of the intro to the Beatles song “Getting Better.” My friend John DeNicola wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life together with Franke Previte on Donald Jay Markowitz for the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack. I am not sure if they wrote the mash-up that is used in the currently Sandals commercials. I might be able to find out from John.

  2. Hi Bill:

    I’d be curious as to whether your friend wrote the other parts, including the “do it all again” material, and the reference of “Getting Better.” I’d guess that there was a license for the use, and another for the change to the original and additional uses that took place in later iterations of the commercial. I seem to remember that the original “Time Of My Life” has been used by Sandals in a version much closer to the original and that the “do it all again” parts were added later and used in subsequent versions. Or so my memory goes.

    It seems as if this “do it all again” was the monster that ate the city, i.e., “Time Of My Life.” I’d guess that an ad agency or music service did all of the changes to the original song.

    Thanks for your post, Bill!

  3. I believe the sandals commercial is like the Black Eyed Peas song that rips off a portion of I’ve Had The Time Of My Life. So, let’s just blame will.i.am for the whole thing.
    Great questions posed Dr. H.! It’s definitely not infringement in relation to copyright, and I don’t think they owe Lennon/McCartney (okay, probably just McCartney in this case) anything other than gratitude for coming up with the cool intro idea (which isn’t a copyrightable element). I wouldn’t call it copying, but rather paying homage if they’re even aware that they did it. It’s like the tradition of incorporating other people’s ideas in the blues genre. No one knows who wrote it the first time. I remember a lecture you gave on that, and it shuts up the Zeppelin haters when I use that logic on them. Cheers E. Michael!

  4. HI Frank:

    Cool! I’m impressed with how well you’ve analyzed these issues.

    I think that whoever performed the Sandals.com commercial – whoever wrote/conceived/produced it – at least one person, KNEW that this was a strict copy/imitation of the Beatles.

    I’ll remain mute on some of your first points (at least for a little while).

    I strongly agree with your thoughts here:

    “It’s like the tradition of incorporating other people’s ideas in the blues genre. No one knows who wrote it the first time.”

    Thanks again for your insight here, Frank! I look forward to more of your opinions, as always!

    E. Michael

  5. Thank you, Ann! I hadn’t realized that Medley and Warnes had made claims against Sandals. I would have sided with them as well.

    That Sandals commercial I used as a motherlode of IP/right of publicity issues – the most per square second!

    It’s a shame that that Sandals video as of today (August 17, 2013), had now been made “private.” I’m glad that I have an MP3 of it so that I can still use it in classes and research.

  6. One more thing – I just found (11:30 AM Central, Saturday, August 17, 2013) another version of The Sandals commercial and replaced the link above. So, the link and my remarks now work again! 🙂

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