How will the similarities between Smith's tune and Petty's hit "I Won't Back Down" affect the Grammys?

By People Staff
Updated January 27, 2015 11:40 AM
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Credit: Marcus Owen/Startraks Photo; C Flanigan/FilmMagic

Though Sam Smith inadvertently emulated Tom Petty‘s 1989 single “I Won’t Back Down” with last year’s hit “Stay With Me,” the similarities won’t lead to a change at the Grammys.

Though Petty and co-writer Jeff Lynne will begin receiving royalties for “Stay With Me” – and are now listed as co-writers on the track – they will not be considered nominees in the eyes of the Recording Academy.

“Since Lynne and Petty didn’t do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for ‘Stay With Me,’ ” Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy’s senior vice president, awards, explained to Billboard.

“Lynne and Petty will not be considered nominees nor will they be considered Grammy recipients, should the song win. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just as any other writers of sampled or interpolated work.”

The final ballots for the awards show – which airs Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. on CBS – were due Jan. 16, before the Petty issue surfaced.

On Monday, a rep for Smith told Rolling Stone that the writers for “Stay With Me” were “not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song,” but after listening to “I Won’t Back Down” they “acknowledged the similarity.”