With so many songs and tunes created, it cannot be hard to know how many different songs are out there and if any songs took melody combinations from other songs. For instance, does Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” sound similar to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down?” What about Pharrell’s “Happy” and Marvin Gaye’s “Blurred Lines?” Are unique songs really unique?
In 1976, George Harrison was sued for plagiarising “He’s So Fine” for his song “My Sweet Lord”. It can be hard to come up with a truly unique song these days and you may be surprised to find your favourite musician being accused of plagiarism.
The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar
The duo collaborated on “Pray for Me” and they are being accused by Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer for lifting a distinctive choral performance from their 2007 song “Sunrise” and altering it.
Yeasayer further added that The Weeknd and Lamar used the part numerous times on the track and is seeking all of the profits from “Pray for Me” and wants to remove it from air.
Singer-songwriter Josh Stone filed a lawsuit in New York against Ariane Grande for copying the hook, “I want it, I got it / I want it, I got it”, from his 2017 song “You Need It, I Got It,” for her song “7 Rings”. Stone said that Grande’s hit has an “identical metrical placement of the paired phrases” and is seeking profits from the sale of “7 Rings”.
A singer-songwriter from SoundCloud Steven Ronsen claimed Lady Gaga of stealing a three-note progression for her 2018 hit “Shallow”. Ronsen and his lawyer are seeking millions of dollars from Gaga in a settlement.
Gaga’s legal team has pointed out that Ronsen’s song “Almost”, released in 2012 was nothing like Gaga’s “Shallow”. They argued that note progression in question is very common and appears in numerous other songs.
Katy Perry’s 2013 single “Dark Horse” was found by the court to have copied from a Christian rap song called “Joyful Noise”, released in 2009 by musician Marcus Gray under the name Flame.
Perry and her record label have been ordered to pay Gray $2.78 million as a result. But Perry and her team filed an appeal to the verdict, requesting the courts to either overturn the verdict or to allow them to proceed with a new trial.
Carrie Underwood, the NFL, and NBC are being sued by Heidi Merrill and her team of songwriters for plagiarising “Game On”, on the theme song for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” programme.
Merrill, who wrote her version of the song in 2016, had posted it on YouTube after the song was included on a 2017 CBS broadcast of “Inside College Basketball.” Merrill claimed that she and her team had pitched their version of the song to Underwood in 2017 but the singer turned it down. However, Underwood’s version of “Game On” features a similar refrain and melody but did not credit the original songwriters.
There are numerous more cases and it may be difficult to check if the song you have written sounds similar to other songs out there. Some musicians make sure they change a few notes and chords of their songs to ensure it sounds different from already pre-existing songs to avoid plagiarism.