Pete Townshend Reacted to the Similarity Between One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’ and The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’

When One Direction released “Best Song Ever,” some fans felt it was similar to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” Pete Townsend of The Who reacted to the similarity. Notably, one of the two songs was a much bigger hit than the other.

One Direction's Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Zayn Malik with a book
One Direction | Karwai Tang/WireImage

A One Direction producer didn’t want to break the law

During an interview with MTV News, producer Julian Bunetta discussed the similarity between “Best Song Ever” and “Baba O’Riley.” “Well I mean it starts with a synth and ‘Baba O’Riley’ starts with a synth,” Bunetta said. “I mean that’s a huge compliment because if that can evoke that same excitement than that’s amazing but that was not the … we weren’t saying ‘OK, let’s rip off ‘Baba O’Riley.'”

Bunetta said he wasn’t sure what inspired “Best Song Ever,” but that it wasn’t “Baba O’Riley.” He said he realized “Best Song Ever” sounded like “Baba O’Riley.” He tried to make sure “Best Song Ever” didn’t infringe on anyone’s copyright.

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The Who’s Pete Townshend compared One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’ to songs by these famous artists

According to Rolling Stone, Townshend had no issue with “Best Song Ever.” “I like the single,” he said. “I like One Direction.” He denied the online rumor that he wanted to pursue legal action over “Best Song Ever.”

Townshend dismissed the idea that the chords in the songs were too similar. “The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we’ve all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don’t mean great music – not always,” he said. “I’m still writing songs that sound like ‘Baba O’Riley’ – or I’m trying to!”

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Furthermore, Townshend liked the idea that he might have inspired One Direction. “I’m happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by The Who,” he said. “I’m just relieved they’re not all wearing boiler suits and Doc Martens, or Union Jack jackets.” Townshend was referencing some iconic outfits members of The Who wore during their heyday.

How the world reacted to ‘Baba O’Riley’ and ‘Best Song Ever’

Although “Baba O’Riley” was released as a single, it was not a hit. It did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. According to The Official Charts Company, it did not chart in the United Kingdom either.

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“Best Song Ever” was far more successful. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the charts for 21 weeks. It was One Direction’s highest-charting single in the United States. The Official Charts Company reports it was a success in the U.K. as well. It reached No. 2 in the U.K., saying on the chart for 28 weeks. “Best Song Ever” was a bona fide hit — regardless of whether it sounded like “Baba O’Riley.”