The Who guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend has denied speculation that One Direction's "Best Song Ever" copies the chords and riffs from the Who's "Baba O'Riley." In a statement posted on the Who's official website on Aug. 15, 2013, Townshend commented on the false rumor that the Who is angry about "Best Song Ever":
“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?”
One Direction's "Best Song Ever" (which was released worldwide on July 22, 2013) was a Top 10 hit in several countries. ("Best Song Ever" hit No. 2 on the singles chart in the U.S. and the U.K.) "Best Song Ever" is the first single from One Direction's third album, whose title and release date are to be announced. "Best Song Ever" was written by Wayne Hector, John Ryan, Julian Bunetta and Ed Drewett.
"Baba O'Riley" (written by Townshend) is from the Who's 1971 album "Who's Next." Although "Baba O'Riley" became a radio hit, it was not a hit on the singles chart in most countries. The best singles chart performance for "Baba O'Riley" was in the Netherlands, where the song reached No. 11.
This is not the first time that a One Direction song has been accused of being a ripoff of another song.
In September 2012, members of One Direction responded to accusations that the guitar intro in the One Direction song "Live While We're Young" copies the guitar intro of the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go."
Speaking to the BBC, One Direction's Harry Styles commented on the similarities in the guitar intros: "It was kind of on purpose though. It’s a great riff. It’s a bit like the first single ['What Makes You Beautiful'] where the opening riff sounds similar to a certain film,” referring to the song "Summer Nights" from the 1978 movie "Grease."
One Direction's Louis Tomlinson said: "I assume it must be quite difficult to do a unique riff now because there have been so many songs. Surely, there's only so many riffs you can pull out."
"Live While We're Young" was written by Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub, the same songwriting team behind One Direction's hit singles "What Makes You Beautiful," "One Thing" and "Kiss You." The trio also wrote non-singles tracks on One Direction's first two albums and are said to also have written songs for One Direction's third album.
The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" was originally released in 1982. The credited songwriters are the four members of the Clash at the time: Joe Strummer, Topper Headon, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon.
"Live While We're Young" was a Top 10 hit in several countries. The U.S./Canadian release date for "Live While We're Young" was Oct. 1, 2012. In other countries, the song was released on Sept. 30, 2012.
"Live While We're Young" is the first single from One Direction's second album, "Take Me Home," which was a No. 1 hit in many countries, including the U.S. and the U.K.
One Direction (which was formed on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010) is currently the biggest-selling worldwide act to emerge from "The X Factor."