By G. Brown
If this were a bible story, singer Katy Perry would be Goliath and Chrisitan rapper Flame is little David.
The court agrees that pop singer Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” sounds a lot like Flame’s 2008 single “Joyful Noise”.
A nine-member federal jury ruled that Perry owes Flame some of the money she made on “Dark Horse” which violated copyright infringement by stealing or plagiarizing parts of “Joyful Noise’s ” sound.
Perry’s 2013 single was a hit that sold more than 13 million copies. While Perry is credited writing the lyrics, it’s not the words but the memorable musical hook that’s in question.
Listen to both songs and see if you hear the similarities. First up, Flame and his “Joyful Noise”…
That opening high pitch beat is pretty much what the court fight is about. It’s a catchy beat that drives the song and that’s the part Flame and his team argue Perry stole.
Now, listen to Perry’s “Dark Horse”…
Perry’s lawyers argued, “They’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone,”. Not even Perry’s defense is original. Every time an artist is taken to court for plagiarizing another’s singers song we hear some variation of that “common beats” argument.
Even rapper Eve is singing along on that chorus saying on her talk show “The Table” that saying “Okay, this is a hard situation” and calling it “an unfortunate accident” before finally landing on “but it feels like a stretch to me.” Eve added she doesn’t even know if Perry’s producer (Dr. Luke who she called a “huge, huge producer”) ever even heard Flame’s song to steal from it. Yeah, that’s some serious shade from Eve who decided to side with Goliath. Another singer at the table, Carnie Wilson disagreed with Eve saying the musical hook does sound similar and is an “an integral” part of the song because it’s like a signature that keeps repeating and is what makes the song memorable.
The comment section ripped Eve to shreds as a sellout. Eve’s defense is pretty much what we heard when rocker Led Zeppelin’s 1969 hit “Whole Lotta Love” sounded a ‘whole lot’ like Muddy Waters’ 1962 song “You Need Love”; When the Beach Boys song “Surfin’ USA” sounded a lot like Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” and we all remember when Robin Thicke tried to convince us that his 2013 hit sounded nothing like Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”. There are other examples, but you get the point. In all three cases, the original artists won just like Flame in this latest battle.
People are always going to want to sample a beat or lyric, that’s the nature of music—there are only so many music notes to go around. But why not just contact the artist, get permission and go that route. When someone steals from a store or robs a house, people are quick to call the police to enforce the law. So why should people look the other way or turn a deaf ear when a celebrity steals from another artist?
Eve seemed to side with the more famous celebrity in this case which is what a lot of people will do. She even raved about how famous Perry’s producer is which is why the victory must be so sweet for Flame. He was the true dark horse in this case. Flame went up against a singer with way more fame, money and clout than he had, but just like David, the Christian rapper conquered his Goliath.