Musicians Accused of Ripping Off Other Musicians: Bruno, Ariana, & More
Nothing succeeds like success, so it’s no surprise some musicians might want to bank off the commercial or critical success of others and rip off those artists’ well-received songs!
Keep reading to see 13 famous pop stars who have been accused of ripping off (or at least singing ripped-off) melodies and lyrics by other musicians — in accusations of varying merit!
Don’t forget, boys and girls: Plagiarism is a no-no.
In a lawsuit obtained by Pitchfork, a band called Collage states that “many of the main instrumental attributes and themes of “Uptown Funk,” Bruno’s 2014 hit with Mark Ronson, are “deliberately and clearly copied” from their 1983 song “Young Girls.”
Bruno Mars (again)
Back in February, old school hip hop group The Sequence — aka Angie Stone, Cheryl Cook, and Gwendolyn Chisholm — said Bruno Mars stole the hook from the 1979 song "Funk You Up" for his hit with Mark Ronson, "Uptown Funk." The Trio never filed a lawsuit, however.
Songwriter Alex Greggs — who has penned tracks for Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Jackson — sued the writers of the pint-sized pop star's 2014 track "One Last Time," saying it rips off a track he wrote for lesser-known pop star Syke Stevens, 2011's "Takes All Night."
Alex says Ariana's song duplicates the chorus... and the lyric "takes you home" in Ariana's song apes the "taking you home" lyric in Skye's song. He suied for a cut of the "One Last Time" profits, according to TMZ.
Songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard filed a suit against the Scottish singer, saying his song "Photograph" rips off "Amazing," a song they wrote for X Factor Season 7 winner Matt Cardle.
They sought $20 million in damages, TMZ reports, and they hired the same attorneys who won a plagiarism lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell regarding the song "Blurred Lines."
Popular performing trouple Cirque du Soleil sued JT, as TMZ reports — claiming the track "Don't Hold the Wall" from his 2013 album The 20/20 Experience copies the song "Steel Dreams" from their 1996 show Quidam, which recently finished its 20-year run.
Grammy-nominated songwriter Linda Perry — who has penned hit songs like Pink's "Get the Party Started" and Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" — tweeted that Lady Gaga didn't deserve an Oscar nomination for the documentary The Hunting Ground's song "'Til It Happens to You."
In fact, she accused Gaga of taking credit for what she says was mostly the work of co-writer Diane Warren, alleging Gaga only changed one line, per Billboard.
She later apologized, tweeting, "I made a mistake to comment. I wasn't in the room when the #TIHTY was being written ... More importantly, I wish the focus to remain on the great importance of the song and the message of the film."
Indie rock band Sleigh Bells publicly accused Demi of ripping off two of the songs from their 2010 album, Treats, in her new song “Stars.” The Confident singer has yet to respond.
.@ddlovato Demi Lovato flattered you guys sampled Infinity Guitars & Riot Rhythm for "Stars" but we were not contacted. Gotta clear those.SLEIGH BELLS (@sleighbells) November 2, 2015
In 2015, Jessie Braham filed a $42 million suit accusing the 1989 singer of stealing lyrics for “Shake It Off” from his 2013 single “Haters Gonna Hate” (which he recorded under the name Jesse Graham).
Then again, T.Swift might be protected under fair use...
When this Prism star’s hit single “Roar” came out in 2013, many a Sara Bareilles fan called out its similarities to Sara’s hit “Brave,” especially because Katy had tweeted her love for “Brave” just three months prior. But Sara took the high road on Twitter:
All love, everybody. All love.Sara Bareilles (@SaraBareilles) August 10, 2013
This piano-playing star settled a lawsuit with Earl Shulman in 2013 after he claimed her song “Girl on Fire” copied aspects of “Hey There Lonely Girl,” a track he co-wrote for Eddie Holman in 1969.
Similarly, this Brit rock band reportedly settled a lawsuit with guitarist Joe Satriani in 2009 after Joe accused the band of stealing his instrumental track “If I Could Fly” for their hit “Viva La Vida.”
Robin Thicke and Pharrell
In March, after a lengthy court battle, a federal jury deemed Robin Thicke and Pharrell liable for copyright infringement for the similarities between their 2013 song “Blurred Lines” and Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up,” awarding Marvin’s family $7.3 million in damages.
Lady Gaga (again)
Many fans have accused Mama Monster’s 2011 track “Born This Way” of being too similar to Madonna’s 1989 song “Express Yourself.”
Plus, in 2012 Madge threw shade at Gaga, calling her music “reductive.”
Tom Petty noticed this British singer’s song “Stay With Me” sounded a lot like his song “I Won’t Back Down” — and now Tom and co-writer Jeff Lynne are both getting royalties and songwriting credit for “Stay With Me.”
Originality is a virtue in the music biz… and perhaps a rarity!