Taylor Swift has found herself in musical hot water lately, over accusations that her ever-popular song “Shake It Off” rips off lyrics from a 3LW (remember them?) song called “Playas Gon’ Play.”
Because of the similarities, the songwriters behind 3LW’s 2000 hit want a 20 percent songwriting credit on “Shake It Off.” Ouch. Swift’s people are brushing the suit off as a “money grab.” But T. Swift isn’t the first person to find herself in a bit of a bind over lyrics. Did you know that these songs also sparked lawsuits?
Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”
Sorry, now you’ll have this song stuck in your head all day. Avril Lavigne’s ultra-catchy track landed the star in some trouble when a ’70s pop group called The Rubinoos accused her of copying them. Lavigne claimed she had never heard their song (called “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”) in her life, and eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”
This song caused plenty of controversy for Robin Thicke. First there was outrage over its messaging about sex and consent, then there was his scandalous performance with Miley Cyrus at the VMAs, and then there was the lawsuit from Marvin Gaye’s family. They accused Thicke of ripping off Gaye’s hit “Got To Give It Up” and successfully sued for $5.3 million, which the singer is appealing.
Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk”
Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson were slammed with a lawsuit alleging that the song rips off the 1983 Collage song “Young Girls.” Ironically, Mars also has a song by that name.
Kendrick Lamar’s “I Do This”
Lamar was sued in 2016 for using a “direct and complete copy” of the song “Don’t You Want to Stay” by Bill Withers. The suit came from Mattie Music Group, which claims to have the rights to the song.
Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”
Though Tom Petty and Sam Smith may not seem like they have much in common, Smith was accused of copying Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down.” Things ended relatively amicably, and they settled out of court. Petty now has a songwriting credit.
At least Tay Tay can take solace in the fact that she’s not alone when it comes to being sued regarding her work. With great songs come great lawsuits.
Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who has contributed to publications and websites including The Charlotte Observer, U.S. News & World Report, American Way magazine, The Huffington Post, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Thrillist, Thought Catalog, and others.