The Who’s ‘Baba O’ Riley’ vs. One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’

Somehow a rumor got started that The Who was taking legal action against One Direction because of similarities between the boy band’s single “Best Song Ever” and 1971’s “Baba O’Riley.” Pete Townshend has put out a statement saying fans shouldn’t cry or raise their eyes.

One Direction fans were freaking out over the rumor on Twitter this week, using the hashtag #DontTouchBestSongEver to go along with their oh so dramatic 140 character (or less) messages. According to the Guardian, Directioners were worried that The Who was “trying to ‘delete’ Best Song Ever from either YouTube or singles chart consideration.”

Photo: Scott Legato /
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Mich.

Referencing a few lines from “Baba O’Riley,” The Who addressed the drama on the band’s website by saying, “It’s unlikely that die-hard Who fans will consider ‘Best Song Ever’ to be the best song ever, even if it is. Nor, though, is it likely that many will cry or raise an eye at this story. It is, after all, only Tweet Age Wasteland.”

Here’s Townshend’s full statement on the controversy:   

“No! I like the single. I like One Direction. 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. I’m still writing songs that sound like Baba O’Riley – or I’m trying to!. It’s a part of my life and a part of pop’s lineage. One Direction are in my business, with a million fans, and I’m happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by The Who. I’m just relieved they’re all not wearing boiler suits and Doc Martens, or Union Jack jackets. The funniest thing is that in Canada this year I met with Randy Bachman once the leader of GUESS WHO who told me that he not only copied Baba O Riley for their hit You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, but he even called his band after us. Why would I not be happy about this kind of tribute?”

(Sidenote. Yeah, we know “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” was actually recorded by Bachman–Turner Overdrive, but you can take that up with Pete.)

See, Directioners? Nothing to worry about.

Skip about to about 2:05 to hear One Direction’s “Best Song Ever” and then leave us a comment for your take on the similarities between the two songs. 

To refresh your memory, here’s a live version of “Baba O’Riley.”