It’s called sampling when a musician takes a portion – or “sample” – of a song and reuses it in a new song. In my humble opinion, it’s cheesy when an artist takes the hook from a previously popular song and uses it as the hook in their own song (like Flo Rida does in “Right Round”). But, if you’re digging through crates at garage sales and thrift stores and finding new ways to use old obscure music, then there’s an art form to it.
Daft Punk/Edwin Birdsong
Some of Daft Punk’s biggest songs are rooted in samples. Their 2001 hit “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” which Kanye West would sample in 2007, originally heavily samples the 1979 Edwin Birdsong tune “Cola Bottle Baby.”
Daft Punk – “Harder Better Faster Stronger”:
“Robot Rock,” the first single off their 2005 album Human After All samples Breakwater’s “Release the Beat.”
Daft Punk – “Robot Rock”:
On “Natural Blues,” Moby samples a folk singer name Vera Hall who made a recording in the 1930s called “Trouble So Hard.”
Moby – “Natural Blues”:
Fatboy Slim/Camille Yarbrough
Fatboy Slim samples “Take Yo Praise” by Camille Yarbrough for “Praise You” and the original has a completely different feel. Check out Camille Yarbrough’s funkier song below.
Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”:
Vampire Weekend/Souls of Mischief
Vampire Weekend didn’t so much sample as take heavy influence from Souls of Mischief on their song “Step,” one of the favorites from Modern Vampires of the City. I thought it was interesting enough to add it to this list. If you’re burnt on Vampire Weekend’s version, you’ll appreciate this.
Vampire Weekend – “Step”:
“Novocain for the Soul” has a retro feel during the verses and that’s because it speeds up a sample of Fats Domino’s 1961 song “Let the Four Winds Blow.”
Eels – “Novocain for the Soul”:
Puff Daddy/The Police
Puff Daddy didn’t even ask The Police for permission to sample “Every Breath You Take” until after it was released. They did settle afterwards, and Sting’s performed it with Diddy since.
The Police – “Every Breath You Take”:
alt-J’s drummer Thom Green remixed “4×4” by Miley Cyrus and got the bright idea to use a line of her lyrics in “Hunger of the Pine.” The two songs don’t even belong in the same genre, but it ended up enhancing their song, regardless of who it is singing.
alt-J – “Hunger of the Pine”:
Lana Del Rey/Leslie West
Lana Del Rey used a vocal sample of Leslie West’s “Long Red” for the intro of “Born to Die.” You can faintly hear his raspy voice during the intro.
Lana Del Rey – “Born to Die”:
The Verve/The Rolling Stones
The Verve were irritated they had to give up song writing credits to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards after they sampled an orchestral version of a Rolling Stones song from the 60s.
The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony”: