Lessons From Cee-Lo: Inspiration, Imitation, and Innovation

Published on January 5, 2012"New Years Eve" "NBC"

Being motivated by someone else’s actions is a feeling we all share.  What you do with that inspiration, though, is what defines us from each other.  The true challenge is understanding why you were so inspired, and channeling those reasons into other things that could help do the same for others. Cee-Lo did this, but in his own way, for what he believed more people would be able to relate.

Some people take the inspiration the wrong route.  Copying what has motivated you can be very tricky.  While some instances can allow for this to happen with no foul-play or consequences involved, others can lead you to a court date.  But of course, that depends on what it is.  Copying an idea for say, a charity, could never harm anyone.  The more compassion spread around the world, the better.  There are many instances where copying can be a great form of flattery for all, as long as it doesn’t hold any intellectual properties along with it.

But, copying could always be taken to the next step.  If you would instead take the idea of the charity, ask to promote the charity by using its same name and affiliation, you could take it to new heights and extensions while gaining a partnership with like-minded people.  If you’re inspired, acknowledge it first, give recognition where due, and make it so that it is rightfully an elevated idea of your own.  This is precisely what the art of sampling, remixing and remaking of songs come in to play.

There are millions of songs around the world that have been transformed and rearranged.  But, of course, these great songs will turn into great court battles if the proper recognition and paperwork is not filed for profit distribution.  Taking an idea, and making it into your own is the essence of the world.  From media to religion, there are so many different points of view because there were people who stood up in an attempt to make it better.  You can see this from Myspace to Tag, Tag to Facebook, Facebook to Twitter, Twitter to Google Plus and so on and so forth.

This past New Years Eve on NBC, Cee-Lo Green performed the famed song “Imagine” by John Lennon.  With an already unique voice, he tweaked the lyrics to his unique style and beliefs.  Instead of singing:

 “nothing to kill or die for/ and no religion too”

He sang:

“nothing to kill or die for/ and all religion’s true.”

The simple twist of words may have went over many heads, but the die hard Lennon fans found it offensive.  After tearing into Cee-Lo via Twitter, Green responded by saying “I was trying to say a world were u could believe what u wanted; that’s all.”  Why should Cee-Lo have to sing lyrics he doesn’t believe in?  And is he not, in the end, saying the same thing?  ”No religion too,” refers to Lennon’s idea of a new world that doesn’t rely on religion to divide all people, while Green’s “All religion’s true” unites all human beings in the same.  Opposite, but similar and relative; innovation.

Don’t be afraid to be inspired by someone else’s message, but always take the time to make it your own.  That way, when you’ve accomplished your own feats, you can look back and rightfully say you did it your way.  Complimentary.

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