With news that British musician Paul Rose has issued a lawsuit against U2, claiming that their track 'The Fly' lifts elements from his song 'Nae Slappin', we recollect some other hits that have been accused of plagiarism over the years.
Robin Thicke: 'Blurred Lines'
One of the catchiest tunes from 2013, Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' hit No. 1 in the UK then quickly went on a downhill spiral that began with it being banned from UK universities for misogynistic lyrics that "blurred the lines" between consent and date rape, and ended with a bitter legal dispute with the family of Marvin Gaye, who claimed that the song plagiarised the soul singer's 'Got To Give It Up'. Thicke and co-singer Pharrell Williams were found liable for copyright infringement by a federal jury in March 2015, and Gaye was awarded posthumous songwriting credit based on the royalties pledged to his estate.
Vanilla Ice: 'Ice Ice Baby'
Back in 1990, Vanilla Ice gave rap its first ever No. 1. Unfortunately, his success came on the back of a song which borrowed heavily from Queen & David Bowie's track 'Under Pressure'. Vanilla Ice initially denied the connection, but the similarities are quite glaring. Listen for yourself.
Ed Sheeran: 'Photograph'
Not even the affable, universally-liked Ed Sheeran can escape the wrath of the lawsuit. Last year, it was revealed that the Suffolk singer was being sued by the writers of X-Factor winner Matt Cardle's song 'Amazing' for the grand sum of $20 million for copyright infringement. We think the connection is more than a little tenuous. Decide for yourself.
Red Hot Chilli Peppers: 'Dani California'
In 2006, the New York Post suggested that there were multiple similarities between Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Dani California’ and Tom Petty’s ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’. When it was suggested to Petty that he might take a legal action, he had this to say: “If someone took my song note for note and stole it maliciously, then maybe. But I don’t believe in lawsuits much. I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”
The Beach Boys: 'Surfin' USA'
This one is pretty indefensible. The lyrics and music of 'Surfin' USA' are a near-exact template of Chuck Berry's song 'Sweet Little Sixteen'. When the single was released, Brian Wilson had sole writing credits, although that has changed over the years to include Chuck Berry. Despite tensions with Berry over the controversy at the time, Carl Wilson said the Beach Boys "ran into Chuck Berry in Copenhagen and he told us he loves 'Surfin' U.S.A.'."
Coldplay: 'Viva La Vida'
When Coldplay released 'Viva La Vida' in 2008, everyone seemed to rush in with their plagiarism claims. American band The Creaky Boards said it sounded like their track 'The Song I Didn't Write' (they later retracted this claim). Cat Stevens compared it to his own 'Foreigner Suite'. But the one that stuck was Joe Satriani's accusation that Coldplay's track incorporates "substantial, original portions" of his instrumental track "If I Could Fly". The band has denied the allegation, saying the similarities were "entirely coincidental", but Satriani eventually took the matter to court. The case was eventually dismissed and both parties agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
Justin Bieber: 'Sorry'
Pop music's shining light Justin Bieber was accused of sampling elements from a song by independent artist White Hinterland without giving the singer credit. Casey Dienel (White Hinterland) accused the singer of borrowing a very notable vocal riff from 'Sorry' from her own song 'Ring The Bell'. She also brought her case against Skrillex and Blood, as well as the song’s co-writers Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels, all of whom deny the claims. The 'Sorry' singer also remains unapologetic...
Led Zeppelin: 'Stairway To Heaven'
Possibly the most enduring, acclaimed rock band of all time, Led Zeppelin found themselves accused of plagiarism by US band Spirit last year. Spirit claimed that the British rock band stole the opening riff of 'Stairway To Heaven' from their '60s song 'Taurus'. Led Zeppelin were ultimately cleared in the case. Have a listen here.
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