Culture Repeats Itself: From Jeannie To Britney

I Dream of Jeannie's Barbra Eden and Britney Spears
Image Credits: FanPop (Left) Barbara Eden, E!Online (Right) Britney Spears

Music sampling is nothing new, but there’s something about this era in music that has truly defined our generation as the Remix Generation.

We’d be no where without the samples that go into producing our favorite songs. One song in particular has been a part of pop culture’s soundtrack since the 1960’s, and it made a little comeback this past year.

The theme song to the television show I Dream of Jeannie has been sampled more times than you imagine. Whomever made the first connection between the Jeannie theme, composed by Hugo Montenegro in 1966, and Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner in 1987 was a genius. The Jeannie theme first makes its subtle appearance in a Nick at Nite television commercial spot in 1994.

The promo was a hit for Nick at Nite, which caters classic television during the evening to this day.

Fast forward to 2014, and alternative rock band Fall Out Boy sample that melodic phrasing that Vega’s Tom’s Diner (“Duh duh duh da duh da”) and I Dream of Jeannie’s composition share.

About 6 months later, the much rumored about song contribution that pop superstar Britney Spears recorded with the Disco Era’s most prominent producer Giorgio Moroder leaks online April 24, 2015. For younger generations (born after about 1992) Tom’s Diner was a new cover they knew nothing about. What they will find interesting is that Spears approached Moroder with the idea of producing the cover.

Those who are familiar with Spears’ tour history, will remember how she donned a Bollywood inspired costume and dance routine (à la I Dream of Jeannie) during her Circus Tour, for her famous single “Me Against The Music.”

It’s interesting how everything seems to repeat and comes back around; through music, fashion, and all veins of culture. There are numerous theories, research, and areas of study around this concept that society goes through cycles, that all things recur. Right now we’re seeing a resurgence of the 1990’s. It would seem that culture tends to repeat itself.

What is that phrase?

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

We’ve seen some cases of imitation gone to far, where there have been blurred lines between plagiarism/copyright infringement and true original work. Still, as we see how our culture changes and conjures classics from the past into new forms of fashion, music, and other forms of expression, it’s undeniable that art inspires each subsequent generation’s creations. We should never forget the past great works, they nourish us and connect us as human beings.

This post originally appeared on Buzzfeed, written by me.


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