Queen B of the music industry Taylor Swift is facing a $42 million lawsuit over allegations she stole some of the lyrics to her 2014 hit Shake It Off.
The suit is brought by US singer Jesse Braham who claims Swift stole the hook for the track from his 2013 song Haters Gone Hate and seeks to have his name added as a writer to the track as well as monetary compensation. Swift’s lawyers have yet to comment officially on the case.
Topping charts around the world upon its release, the video for Shake It Off has been watched more the 1.1 billion times on YouTube. The song’s chorus is what has landed Taylor in hot water however, with Brahamm, who also goes by the stage name Jesse Graham, claiming he has copyright ownership of the phrases “haters gone hate” and “playas gone play” which both appear in the hook for Swift’s song.
While this may sound like blatant profiteering, comparing the lyrics of Mr Braham’s chorus “Haters gone hate, playas gone play/ Watch out for them fakers, they’ll fake you everyday,” to those of Shake It Off, “cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” with an alternate chorus later in the song reading “and the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake,” the similarities are pretty clear.
However apart from the lyrics, the songs are very different musically.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Mr Braham says that there is “no way” Swift could have written Shake It Off independently of Haters Gone Hate. “Her hook is the same hook as mine. If I didn’t write the song Haters Gone Hate, there wouldn’t be a song called Shake It Off,” he said.
Originally only asking to be given a writing credit on the song and to take a selfie with the pop star, Swift’s label Big Machine dismissed him repeatedly, telling him his claim had no merit. “At first I was going to let it go, but this song is my song all the way,” he said.
The similarities aside though, this reporter wonders if there might be another artist with a valid claim against Swift… Dave Chappelle. And while his 2003 R Kelly parody Piss On You might not have all the lyrics from the chorus, it prominently features the line “haters gone hate”… but I’ll leave that to you and the courts to decide.
You can revisit the video for Shake It Off here, alongside Jesse Graham’s Haters Gone Hate, below.
Watch: Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Listen: Haters Gone Hate – Jesse Graham