[Harald Krichel, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

Pop Superstar Goes On Trial Accused Of Stealing Music

Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” might be one of the most famous songs of the last fifty years. Almost anyone who listens to music can name that tune almost immediately when it hits the radio. 

Now the British pop star Ed Sheeran has been accused of ripping off Gaye’s classic with his own tune “Thinking Out Loud,” which won a Grammy.

The Wall Street Journal writes, “A federal jury in New York began considering that question Tuesday in a copyright-infringement trial that could have implications for how songwriters arrange chords to make music. 

The plaintiffs, heirs of Ed Townsend, the R&B composer and producer who co-wrote Mr. Gaye’s song, sued Mr. Sheeran in 2017, accusing him of stealing the heart of the sultry hit—its chord progression and harmonic rhythm—to create his own chart-topper, ‘Thinking Out Loud.’ 

 Mr. Gaye died in 1984. ‘Let’s Get It On,’ released 50 years ago, has become a time-honored sexual anthem, ingrained in pop culture and recognized as one of the greatest American songs of all time, Ben Crump, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told jurors during opening statements.

He said Mr. Sheeran piggybacked off the song to build a career in which he has reached a stratospheric level of fame and headlined sold-out stadium tours. Mr. Crump told jurors that Mr. Sheeran knew the two songs sounded the same and promised to show them a ‘smoking gun,’ a concert video of the pop star performing a medley of “Thinking Out Loud” seamlessly transitioning into ‘Let’s Get It On.’” 

The “smoking gun” in question was concert footage showing Sheeran flipping between the two songs. 

On the stand, Sheeran said, “If I had done what you accuse me of doing, I would be quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that.”

What do you think? Do these songs sound the same? 

A jury is expected to provide a definitive answer in about two weeks. 

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