Are works that consists solely of sampled vocals really songs?

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So I dipped my toe in adding writing credits to works and ran into some issues I’d like to have clarified. My first question is: what works qualify as a “song”? The definition that appears to be used on MB is:

A song is in its origin (and still in most cases) a composition for voice, with or without instruments, performed by singing. This is the most common form by far in folk and popular music, but also fairly common in a classical context ("art songs").

This definition appears to be occasionally expanded to include other vocal performances, such as rapping. My current understanding is that basically, if a work has lyrics, it is a song. In particular I am confused by tracks that rely extensively on the use of samples. One example of an offending work is “Jack to the Sound of the Underground” by Hithouse.

This work contains lyrics but since these are samples from famous early house classics, these are not readily interchangeable with other vocal performances. Case in point: the work has been covered by D.O.N.S. and uses the same samples of “You’re No Good for Me” by Kelly Charles and “Jack to the Sound of the Underground” by Fast Eddie.

This is not a lone example. When the house phenomenon reached Europe there was a whole genre of songs that consisted of a looped hook overlaid with dozens of samples from early house classics. I would like to know how to categorize these.

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Would you call them songs if you didn’t know the vocals were sampled? That’s (roughly) where I would draw the line.

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It’s pretty hard to miss the vocals are samples; they are cut up loops from over a dozen different sources :grin:

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Personally it doesn’t matter what is used to make a ‘song’ - instruments, electronic approximations of instruments, vocals, someone running kitchen appliances and banging spoons together, or (in this case) cutting up existing songs to make something new.

My thoughts!

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Yeah, I am with you. To me personally, any musical piece is a song. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the MB community standard, so we adapt :smile:.

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Huh, am I missing an edit or discussion or something where someone said something else?

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I’m guessing one of the discussions being referenced is that songs without lyrics are not songs to MB standards. They are works of “no type” with “no lyrics”. :roll_eyes:

This is why your example here is clearly a “song” with “vocals” singing “lyrics”. Just not lyrics being sung specifically for this recording.

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What @IvanDobsky said; A musical piece without lyrics is not a song by current MB standards.
See Work Type for "Instrumental" Music

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Yes, I get the impression that I can defend either choice. The sample-heavy works that I checked were set to “song” so I think I will just adopt that.

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Ah yes, true!!

Semantics is always a impossible argument, so as long as the meaning is clearly defined and consistent within MB I’m happy (I was coming from a more colloquial/everyday usage of “song” but now I understand the nuance of your question).

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The first example that comes to my mind is

in which the “lyrics” consist of bits of the same clip from an interview, repeated and played back in different ways.

That’s currently marked as a “Song” and I think that is OK. It’s not a big stretch to imagine a person singing it.

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Indeed, and I think that most electronic dance compositions that use either sampled vocals, or a short vocal item repeated over and over are also considered songs, you could for example “sing-along” with them if you so pleased.

I’ve personally switched to marking instrumental pieces as No Lyrics, no work type for the moment.

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Lovely, there appears to be consensus that anything that can be sung along to qualifies as a song :smile:
Thanks for the input, everybody.

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