Ed Sheeran is not having a good year.
In June, songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard filed a $20 million lawsuit against Sheeran, claiming that the British pop star copied their song “Amazing” almost note-for-note in his 2014 hit “Photograph.”
Earlier this week, Sheeran was again sued for copyright infringement, this time for his single “Thinking Out Loud.”
Based on their peak positions on the Billboard Top 100, these are two of Sheeran’s three biggest hits.
The suit comes from the heirs of Ed Townsend, who wrote the music and co-wrote the lyrics to Marvin Gaye’s famous romantic anthem, “Let’s Get it On.” It claims that Sheeran copied the major aspects of the melody, harmony and composition of “Let’s Get it On” for his hit “Thinking Out Loud.”
“The Defendants copied the ‘heart’ of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout ‘Thinking,’ ” the lawsuit said. “The melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of ‘Thinking’ are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of ‘Let’s.’ “
This might not shock everyone. Comparisons have frequently been drawn between the tunes.
In March 2015, a Los Angeles jury decreed that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams owed Marvin Gaye’s estate $7.3 million for copying the feel of Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.” The next day, Spin published an article titled, “‘Blurred Lines’ Isn’t Even the Biggest Marvin Gaye Ripoff This Decade.”
In it, Andrew Unterberger wrote: “Thinking Out Loud” is a very nice ballad, one whose seductive groove, sentimental lyric, and full-hearted vocal has taken it all the way to No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart. It is also an incredibly obvious successor to Marvin Gaye’s 1973 superlative slow jam “Let’s Get It On” — the gently loping four-note bass pattern and crisp ’70s soul drums absolutely smack of the Gaye classic, as do the embrace-insistent lyrics and general candlelit-bedroom feel.
And after Sheeran was sued earlier this year, several Twitter users took to the social platform to point out the exact same thing. Some even wondered why he wasn’t being sued for that song’s resemblance to “Let’s Get it On,” rather than the similarities between “Photograph” and “Amazing.”
Even Sheeran himself seemed to slyly acknowledge that the songs sound the same when he blended them - it’s almost impossible to tell when he switches songs - at a concert in Zurich in late 2014.
Sheeran’s other lawsuit is still outstanding. Neither Sheeran nor any of his representatives has responded to various media outlets’ requests for comment.
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