In a complaint filed in a Los Angeles federal court last week (March 4), songwriters Jordan Vincent, Christopher Miranda and Rosco Banlaoi allege that the pair’s song has the “same” title, chorus and composition as a song they wrote. The song in question was published on Vincent’s YouTube and Spotify channels back in 2017.
The complaint, which was obtained by Rolling Stone, read: “The hook/chorus in both songs — the most significant part and artistic aspect of these works — contains the lyrics ‘dancing with a stranger’ being sung over a nearly identical melody and musical composition.”
The lawsuit goes on to show a side-by-side comparison of the two songs and further alleges that the track’s accompanying videos are also similar.
It claims that “both videos consist of a girl performing interpretive dance alone in a minimalist studio, interspersed with shots of the male vocalist.”
It adds: “A girl dancing alone is not an obvious visual theme for a music video titled ‘Dancing With a Stranger,’ tending to dispel any notion that this similarity is a coincidence…When the extraordinary musical similarity between the songs is also factored in, it becomes even more apparent that it is impossible that the infringing composition and
sound recording were independently created.”
The filing goes on to allege that Smith, Normani and their respective teams had access to the song through record label ‘Thrive Records’ who they claim had been “extremely interested in using plaintiff’s song for another artist,” though “the deal never went through.”
It continues: “Another suspicious coincidence is that the call sheet for plaintiff’s music video specifically mentioned using the visual concept of mannequins coming to life.
“Although this concept was not ultimately utilised in plaintiff’s music video, Normani and the director of defendants’ music video gave an interview in 2019 discussing how defendants wanted to use porcelain statues coming to life for their music video…The odds that such a unique but highly similar idea would have come independently to defendants are astronomical, especially considering the other shared similarities.”
The song has been certified platinum in over 10 countries and has been streamed more than three billion times.
The lawsuit further alleges: “As a result of defendants’ exploitation of plaintiff’s song without permission, they obtained a massive international hit single which generated significant revenue and profits.”
“Defendants’ representatives were contacted in November 2020 about the similarities. Defendants were given every chance to come up with an innocent explanation, but, despite assurances that a response was coming including a musicological analysis and report, the defendants never issued a response. This suit is being filed as a last resort,” the lawsuit adds.
NME has reached out to representatives of Smith and Normani for comment.
Sam Smith released their latest album ‘Love Goes’ last October. Giving the album a three-star review, NME wrote: “Sam Smith is no stranger to crafting a soundtrack about the highest highs and lowest lows of love.
“After all, the singer was the one to give us 2014’s ‘Stay With Me’, a pitch-perfect wedding song schmaltzer, and ‘Too Good at Goodbyes’, a pile-up of frustration about being perpetually dumped. With their third album ‘Love Goes’, Smith leans further into the lowest lows of love: losing it.”
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