LISTEN: 6 Songs That Borrow From Other Songs
Did it really take five people to write Taylor Swift’s hit “Look What You Made Me Do”? Not exactly.
Swift shares a writing credit for the song with producer Jack Antonoff but there are three other names listed as songwriters: Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass, and Rob Manzoli.
The trio once known as Right Said Fred are credited because the chorus of “Look What You Made Me Do” interpolates the line “I’m too sexy for my shirt” from their 1991 hit “I’m Too Sexy.”
It’s not the first time the writers of an existing song got their names listed as co-writers of a new song. Sometimes — as in the case of “Look What You Made Me Do — it’s done voluntarily and ahead of a song’s release, but other times it’s done only after lawyers got involved.
Here are six examples:
“Secrets” - The Weeknd
This single from Starboy is credited to The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) and fellow Canadians Henry Walter and Martin McKinney as well as Dylan Wiggins. Also listed is Roland Orzabal of Tears For Fears (whose 1982 track “Pale Shelter” is sampled) and Coz Canler, Jimmy Marinos, Wally Palmarchuk, Mike Skill of The Romantics and producer Peter Solley (whose 1983 hit “Talking in your Sleep” is used).
“Stay With Me” - Sam Smith
Smith wrote his 2014 hit single with James Napier and William Phillips but credits were added for Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne due to similarities to Petty’s 1989 song “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty never alleged plagiarism and Smith called it a “coincidence” but the two sides came to terms.
“Blurred Lines” - Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell Williams
How did Robin Thicke, T.I. (aka Clifford Harris Jr.) and Pharrell Williams co-write their 2013 smash hit with Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984? They didn’t, of course, but Gaye’s estate sued to ensure he got a songwriting credit after accusations that “Blurred Lines” borrowed heavily from Gaye’s 1977 classic “Got To Give It Up.”
“Uptown Funk” - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
There are a whopping nine names listed as songwriters of this 2014 single, including Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Also listed are Ronnie Wilson, Rudy Taylor, Robert Wilson, Lonnie Simmons and Charlie Wilson, who wrote The Gap Band’s 1979 track “Oops Upside Your Head.” This came about only via a legal settlement.
“Creep” - Radiohead
This popular Radiohead song from 1992 was originally credited only to the members of the band but Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood sued, alleging that it sounded a lot like their 1972 ballad “The Air That I Breathe,” recorded by The Hollies. A deal was reached to give Hammond and Hazlewood songwriting credits and, of course, a cut of the royalties.
“Ice Ice Baby” - Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice’s 1989 mega hit samples the distinctive bass line of 1981’s “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie but was initially only credited to Ice (aka Robert Van Winkle) and DJ Earthquake (aka Floyd Brown). Eventually, Bowie and the members of Queen were added as songwriters.