19 Musicians Who Were Accused of Ripping Off Other Famous Artists
It’s really hard to come up with original, creative music for the span of an entire music career (unless you’re Taylor Swift, of course, because she’s Queen). We don’t specifically have much experience on that front, but we’re just inferring, based on the fact that musicians can’t stop ripping off one another. They say that styles are recycled over time, which explains why you even considered buying a scrunchie the size of your head the last time that you stepped foot into an American Apparel. And that must be especially true when it comes to music styles. In fact, we’ll go a little further and say that it’s even true for individual songs.
As a bonus, musicians have stopped waiting very long at all for said recycling to happen organically. They’re straight-up remaking famous songs with no shame and they’re being called out on it. And, boy, is it entertaining every single time. Whether they were full-out sued in a court of law, or just powered through raised eyebrows and “these sound alike, am I wrong?” questions, these 19 musicians know a thing or two about having their originality questioned:
1. One Direction vs. Everyone — We may love them to pieces, but we’ve got a feeling that the long, long list of artists that the band has been accused of stealing music from includes some very P.O.’d people. Hayley Williams has called them out on copying New Found Glory‘s “It’s Not Your Fault” (which, coincidentally, copies Journey) in the beginning of “Steal My Girl”. They’ve also been in the hot seat for allegedly ~borrowing~ from The Who‘s “Baba O’Riley” for “Best Song Ever”. And let us not forget about the time that the guys were under fire for the similarities between “Midnight Memories” and Def Leppard‘s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Among others, of course, because this is constant.
2. Demi Lovato vs. Katy Perry & Jessie J — Demi’s recently changed up her sound, choosing to go more electro-pop and less heartfelt-ballad. In the midst of that change, though, she managed to pick up some criticism that she’d gotten HEAVY inspiration for her summer banger, “Cool for the Summer,” from Katy’s debut single “I Kissed A Girl” and Jessie’s “Domino.” And “heavy inspiration” is always just code for stealing.
3. Katy Perry vs. Sara Bareilles — Katy became the butt of many, many jokes when everyone’s ears began picking up on the fact that Katy’s “Roar” is pretty much the exact same song as Sara’s earlier-released “Brave.” Not only do the songs have twin melodies, but they also have the same message: take charge and be proud of who you are. Unless who you are is a backwards-Robin Hood when it comes to music stealing.
4. Lady Gaga vs. Madonna — Lady Gaga’s long withstood comparisons to Madonna, especially pertaining to her “eff the mainstream” image. But those comparisons couldn’t have been helped by the fact that Gaga’s “Born this Way” and Madonna’s “Express Yourself” sound as if they could have been made by the same person.
5. Robin Thicke & Pharrell vs. Marvin Gaye — Although they lost, Marvin Gaye’s estate fought long and hard to bring Robin and Pharrell to justice for having, as they claimed, stolen the melody from Marvin’s “Got to Give it Up.” While the similarities between the two songs could be purely coincidental, it also isn’t completely out of the question that the duo could have gotten some inspiration from the classic.
6. Fifth Harmony vs. JoJo — JoJo’s song, “My Time Is Money,” didn’t receive even half of the popularity that 5H’s “BO$$” enjoyed. But sharp-eared fans made the connection between the two upbeat anthems.
7. Iggy Azalea vs. Kendrick Lamar — Remember when you couldn’t go five minutes on the Internet without stumbling upon either a video of Iggy’s fail freestyle or a joke about said video? Well, it turns out that, while it turned out horribly for her, landing her promptly at the butt of many a joke, it started out as a perfectly normal Kendrick Lamar song called, “Look Out for Detox.” Aren’t freestyles supposed to be on the fly, anyway?
8. Sam Smith vs. Tom Petty — Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” so closely resembles Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down,” that if you focused just right, you’d be able to sing Sam’s song to the melody of Tom’s. And we weren’t the only ones who heard the similarities. After Sam, himself, pretty admirably agreed to give Tom songwriting credit for the gaffe, Tom totally excused him because “these things happen.”
9. Ed Sheeran vs. Marvin Gaye — We’re not really sure where these two songs overlap, but that hasn’t stopped quite a few people from pointing out that Ed’s sweet “Thinking Out Loud” sounds a lot like Marvin’s “Let’s Get it On.” Although, Ed HAS admitted that soul and R&B has had a huge influence on him musically. Poor Marvin Gaye can’t catch a break when it comes to artists borrowing from his music, apparently.
10. Chris Brown vs. Calvin Harris — Calvin credits himself with the increase in electronic sounds in pop music, having introduced to music this brand of sonic fusion a pretty long time ago. And, while he was willing to let go of the fact that he wasn’t often given his due for this innovation, he at some point decided that he had enough of Chris Brown, specifically, getting credit for this sound.
11. Jonas Brothers vs. Jason Mraz — The JoBro song, which was only technically sung by Nick Jonas and his fancy little acoustic guitar, appeared in the second installment of Camp Rock. But before then, Jason Mraz released what is probably the sweetest love song of our generation, “I’m Yours.” So, yeah, Jason used, what sounds like, exclusively a ukelele to make this song. But you can’t deny that you recognize the latter in the former.
12. Mac Miller vs. Aquarian Dream — There’s no denying that Mac stole a sample from the ’70s funk band’s song, “Yesterday,” for a song on his mixtape, Therapy. That’s because, after he was hit with a $150,000 lawsuit claiming just that, it was revealed that, although he tried to get permission to use their music, when he didn’t hear back from them with the OK, he just used it anyway.
13. Ariana Grande vs. The Jimmy Castor Bunch — The voice-over in the beginning of Ari’s “The Way” appears as if it’s been recorded directly from JCB’s “Troglodyte.” Seriously, word-for-word. They didn’t go on to sing about how in love they are with their boyfriend, though. So we guess that makes one difference.
14. Ariana Grande vs. Mariah Carey — If you just plugged up your ears and played, individually, audio of Mariah singing, followed by audio of Ariana, you might not even be able to tell the difference. Ari probably can’t go one day without hearing that comparison, which has got to be nothing but a compliment to her. However, Mariah probably doesn’t feel as honored, seeing as how she’s being replaced and all.
15. Rihanna vs. Just Brittany — Okay, Just Brittany isn’t actually all that famous. But she won her spot on this list fair and square, because have you HEARD that chorus? Her song, which came out before Rihanna’s, features the very same lyric that you’ve been singing along to for months now, only with Rih’s voice in your head. And the titles are literally one word apart!
16. Taylor Swift vs. Lana Del Rey — Tay’s “Wildest Dreams” is certainly off-brand for her normal pop-y hits (“Bad Blood”) or lovelorn ballads (“Come Back, Be Here”). And if the breath-y, dream-y sounds of the song remind you of Lana, you aren’t alone. Taylor’s received criticism that she completely and unapologetically lifted Lana’s style for the song. But she’s still a lyrical genius; at least give her credit for that.
17. Selena Gomez vs. Luce — Not only did Luce claim that Sel had used an almost identical melody in her chorus as the one in the group’s “Buy a Dog,” but the band demanded that she pay up for the offense. How much, you ask? 1 million whole dollars, is how much. Note to self: do not mess with Luce.
18. Miley Cyrus vs. Iggy Azalea — Iggy accused Miley of stealing twerking from her, claiming that she had incorporated the dance into her performances way before Miley had. The absolute best part of it all is that twerking has its origins in African dance, in which Iggy can stake no claims.
19. 5 Seconds of Summer vs. Fall Out Boy — 5SOS’ “Social Casualty” gets off on such a similar foot to FOB’s classic “Sugar, We’re Going Down” that it began raising eyebrows almost immediately following its release. 5SOS never officially shouted out FOB, stating that they had been inspired by the song, but anyone with ears can clearly hear it.