Even though it’s no secret that performers are often inspired by other artists, the latest controversy to rock the music industry is centered on just how much one may be influenced by past creative works, yet still deliver an original song.

Whether it’s the Kafka-esque nature of the current *NSYNC tour or the Aldous Huxley-influenced Mekka festival, many music insiders are questioning whether today’s acts can continue to borrow from the past. In fact, not since Bob Dylan went electric or when a 1970s David Cassidy combined Claude Debussy with John Cage to create the aural masterpiece, “I Think I Love You,” has the current state of modern music been so divided over originality.

“Musicians can’t help but be influenced by past artists,” says Dr. Robert Pilatus, whose thesis tracing musical theory from the days of Mozart up through The Crystal Method is required reading at prestigious music schools such as Julliard and Interlochen. “To the average listener, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Rick Derringer’s ‘Rock & Roll Hootchie Koo’ have the exact same carbon-based infrastructure. No wonder people are confused.”

Needless to say, such confusion seems foreign to an industry that prides itself on its puritanical morals combined with a rigid work ethic. It’s well known that the honesty and integrity of music industry executives is second to none even though Spock’s Beard and the Circle Jerks have obviously incorporated elements of Bach, Stravinsky and James Ellroy in their most recent recordings.

Will the musicians of tomorrow borrow from the stars of today? Or will they, too, reach back into the eras of Mozart and William Shatner and draw upon the classics for inspiration? “Heck, if Amadeus was alive today, he’d probably be borrowing from Eminem,” remarks Pilatus. “Now, that would be the real Slim Shady.”