An investment banker who owns the rights to Marvin Gaye’s 1973 number one hit ‘Let’s Get It On’ is trying to sue Ed Sheeran for $100 million over alleged similarities between the soul classic and Sheeran’s 2015 single ‘Thinking Out Loud’.
Previously, back in 2016, the family of Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend tried to make the same complaint, suggesting that Sheeran’s song borrows extensively from the melody, harmony, and rhythmic components of ‘Let’s Get It On’.
The new suit, by David Pullman, who is clearly a great person and invented something called “Bowie Bonds’ in 1997 as a way of enabling the Thin White Duke to milk his back catalogue by leveraging his own royalty income, similarly accuses the world’s richest ginger of copying the “melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping.”
Fair enough? Let’s listen to both tracks side by side:
I mean… the chords in the verse are basically the same.
But still, I reckon Sheehan will win this. Because despite the verses sharing a pretty standard sequence (I - iii - IV - V, fellow music theory nerds in the house holla at me) the pre-chorus is strikingly different (ii - V - I), and moreover probably the main hook of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ is that nice descending figure at the end of the chorus (“We found love / Right where we are.”)
Which, I don’t need to tell you, is the at least sufficiently original (vi - V - IV - I - ii - V - I).
Nonetheless, Sheeran had better lawyer up in his fight with Pullman's almost comically-evilly named holding company 'Structured Asset Sales'. You’ll remember how a few years back that the Gaye estate took Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to the absolute fucking cleaners to the tune of $7 million for that ‘Blurred Lines’ song.
It’s almost as if people with business degrees but zero talent feel the only way they can get ahead is by ripping off artists.