Ed Sheeran and Robin Thicke aren't the only musicians accused of ripping off someone else

By Gillian Telling
March 11, 2015 01:45 PM
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Credit: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/Getty

Wait, doesn’t that sound just like ?

Ed Sheeran is just the latest musician embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, after two songwriters accused him of ripping off their song ‘Amazing,’ (which they wrote for British singer Matt Cardle), claiming the chorus for Sheeran’s hit ‘Photograph’ sounds nearly identical.

The two are suing Sheeran for more then $20 million. And they’re not totally wrong – the two songs do sound like one another. But is it coincidence, or theft?

That call completely remains up to the judge handling the case in question.

Sheeran, (who some also claim took inspiration for his ‘Thinking Out Loud’ from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’), is hardly the first artist to be accused of recording a copycat song before. From Lady Gaga and Madonna to Vanilla Ice and David Bowie, the music industry has always been rife with rip-off accusations. And, in the case of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams the judge ruled in the favor ruled in favor of the accuser to the tune of over $7 million.

(Williams told jurors during the trial that he must have just “been channeling that feeling, that late-’70s feeling,” when he wrote “Blurred Lines,” which ripped-off Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Get it On.’)

What do you think? Below, listen to comparisons of ‘Photograph’ and ‘Amazing,’ plus several other songs that hinted at plagiarism, or were actually involved in lawsuits in the past.

1. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ and Matt Cardle’s ‘Amazing’

2. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’

3. Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Get It On’

4. Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ and Tom Petty’s ‘Won’t Back Down’

In January, Tom Petty was awarded a co-writer’s credit on Sam Smith‘s smash “Stay with Me,” which Petty claimed sounded just like his 1989 song “I Won’t Back Down.”

After the decision, Petty noted on his website that he had no hard feelings about the incident.

“All my years of songwriting has shown me that these things can happen,” he said. “Most of the times you catch it before it gets out the studio door, but in this case it got by.”

Listen to ‘Stay with Me’ and ‘I Won’t Back Down.’

5. One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’ and The Who’s ‘Baba O’Reilly’

In 2013, when critics pointed out similarities between One Direction‘s “Best Song Ever” and The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” there were rumors that The Who would sue the pop band, which angered the loyal 1D fans.

Clearing up the myth, The Who’s Pete Townshend said in a statement, “The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we’ve all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don’t mean great music – not always. I’m still writing songs that sound like ‘Baba O’Riley’ – or I’m trying to!” He added, “I’m happy to think they may have been influenced a bit by The Who!”

Listen to ‘Best Song Ever’ and ‘Baba O’Riley.’

6. Avril Lavigne’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ and The Rubinoos ‘Girlfriend’

In 2007, Avril Lavigne was sued by the writers of the 1979 song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” after they claimed the chorus of her song “Girlfriend” was a direct rip-off of theirs. The two parties eventually settled out of court.

Listen to ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ and ‘Girlfriend.’

7. George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ and The Chiffons ‘He’s So Fine’

The Beatles‘ George Harrison faced his own copyright infringement suit in 1971, when the writers of The Chiffons’ 1958 hit “He’s So Fine” said Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” sounded too much like their song. He eventually had to pay them over $500,000.

Listen to ‘He’s So Fine’ and ‘My Sweet Lord.’

8. Michael Bolton’s ‘Love is a Wonderful Thing’ and the Isley Brothers ‘Love is a Wonderful Thing’

And then there’s Michael Bolton, whose 1991 hit “Love Is a Wonderful Thing” was ruled to sound way too much like the Isley Brothers’ song of the same name. After a long battle, during which he denied the accusations, Bolton had to pay $5 million to the Isley Brothers.

Listen to both songs titled ‘Love Is a Wonderful Thing.’

9. Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ and Sara Bareilles ‘Brave’

Sara Bareilles and Katy Perry had radio hits at the same time with “Brave” and “Roar,” respectively. The opening notes were so similar that the Internet immediately made mash-ups, and the media declared a feud. Bareilles denied there was any ill will between them, and the two remained friends with no lawsuits.

Listen to ‘Brave’ and ‘Roar.’