Tool's Lateralus vs Terminator 2: Judgment Day
We've found some crazy similarities between Tool's Lateralus track and the soundtrack to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Take a listen to both—what do you think?
Written by Sherri Riggs
Released in the 80’s, the Terminator series has wielded major influence in the sci-fi world. Indeed, pop culture in general wouldn’t be the same without Arnold Schwarzenegger and his role as the Terminator. There are entire websites dedicated to The Terminator and Schwarzenegger jokes, along with other movies and series that reference The Terminator. But where does influence and inspiration cross the line? At what point are we fans, and at one point are we copycats and plagiarizers?
Today we are taking a hard look and listen to part of a score in one scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which bears similarity to a song created by the metal rock band Tool. The song, Lateralus, was released after Terminator 2: Judgment Day—which begs the question: Did Tool plagiarize the score? We’ll show you the timeline, compare the Judgment Day score and Lateralus side by side, and go over coincidences that don’t look great for Tool. At the end of this article, you’ll be able to form your own opinion of whether or not Tool’s song is original, or “inspired” by the Terminator score.
Tool's Unfortunate Coincidence
Dedicated Tool fans might say Terminator took inspiration from Tool for the score—but, unfortunately for them that is not the case. Judgment Day was released in July, 1991, whereas Lateralus made its debut a whole decade later in May, 2001. Not only that, but according to IMDB, Tool’s lead guitarist, Adam Jones actually worked on the set of Judgment Day.
Jones, a talented artist and sculptor, worked on the of many movies before his Tool days. It’s been said his Hollywood days influenced Tool’s artistic presentations, so would it be a stretch to say his Hollywood days also influenced Tool’s music?
Pictured: Adam Jones, Lead Guitarist of Tool
Credit: deep ghosh from Melbourne, VIC, Australia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Dedicated Tool fans might say Terminator took inspiration from Tool for the score—but, unfortunately for them that is not the case. Judgment Day was released in July, 1991, whereas Lateralus made its debut a whole decade later in May, 2001. Not only that, but according to IMDB, Tool’s lead guitarist, Adam Jones actually worked on the set of Judgment Day. Jones, a talented artist and sculptor, worked on the of many movies before his Tool days. It’s been said his Hollywood days influenced Tool’s artistic presentations, so would it be a stretch to say his Hollywood days also influenced Tool’s music?
In this video, we have given you two different ways to compare the score and Lateralus. First, you’ll watch and listen to the original scene, then you’ll watch and listen to the same scene with Tool’s music where we edited out the original score, and swapped in Lateralus. Second, we put the scenes side-by-side and switched between the original and Lateralus so you can hear the similarities in real time. It’s not perfect, but you will be able to hear the similarities.
After listening to the music side-by-side, you might not be totally convinced. Maybe it’s just a coincidence they sound similar… right? Maybe. But even if that was the case, it’s still too close for comfort. There are examples of modern musical plagiarism that had their day in court with less evidence, and less similarities.
Men at Work: “Down Under”
The popular Australian band Men at Work lost a case in court over their song “Down Under.” The band allegedly stole/borrowed the flute riff from a popular children's song called “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree”. Even though the flute riff is just in a few parts of the song, Men at Work still owed 5% of royalties to the company suing them. According to News.com.au, that totaled $100,000, plus legal fees added up to over $4.5 million dollars.
Robin Thicke: “Blurred Lines”
Another popular song that got wrecked in court is Robin Thicke’s and Pharell Williams’ song “Blurred Lines.” The song closely resembled the Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.” Gaye, who passed away in the mid 1980’s, did not personally sue the duo, but his family did. After battling it out in court for five years, Gaye’s family won over $5-million dollars, plus 50% of all royalties moving forward.
We’re not saying we want Tool to be sued, or that it’s even likely to happen. But there are dozens of cases similar to the ones above. So, if the creator of Terminator 2: Judgment Day score wanted to, he could have his day in court, and potentially receive a lot of cash.
The following points work in Tool’s favor:
- This specific score of this specific scene is a very small portion of the movie. If Tool did borrow some chords, melody, and bass line, it’s less than 90 seconds of a 150-minute movie. Plus, this melody is only in the very beginning of the song, and it doesn’t stretch throughout the entire thing.
- It’s been a REALLY LONG TIME since Lateralus was released, almost 20 years. If there were copyright or plagiarism worries, someone would have caught wind of it by now. This is especially true because of the connections Adam Jones has to the movie, the cast, the crew, and his band.
The jury is out on the matter—did Tool really steal this melody or is it just a happy coincidence?