The lyric “not your toy” just took on a whole new meaning.
On Tuesday Good Evening with Guy Pines reported that Universal Music Corporation in Los Angeles had sent a warning letter to Doron Medalie and Stav Beger — the songwriters behind the Eurovision 2018 winning song — alleging plagiarism.
As reported by Y Net, the threatening letter claims that a portion of “Toy” is stolen from the White Stripes’ song “Seven Nation Army”. Their objections revolve around “the harmonies and pace of both songs”, rather than the melody or lyrics.
Long before this allegation became formalised in a letter, Eurofans had been whispering about similarities. You can assess for yourself in this mash-up video.
Released in 2003 as part of the rock duo’s album Elephant, “Seven Nation Army” is the band’s signature song and won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. It’s got a lot of fans — and it’s only natural they might be hyper sensitive (or super skilled?) when detecting similarities.
Y Net says that Medalie will fly to Los Angeles tomorrow to discuss the matter. The allegation and response is significant: a lawsuit could delay the release of royalties to the songwriters.
Medalie is remaining calm. In a statement quoted by Y Net, he said:
“We were surprised to receive such a letter and we are handling it, and I believe that in the next two weeks the issue will be resolved to the best of the parties’ satisfaction.”
Universal, a music publishing heavyweight, is the label behind acts like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Florence + The Machine and others.
Plagiarism allegations are part and parcel of Eurovision (see this and this as a start), and crop up every single year. These allegations usually fizzle away after sometime. Pop music is never created in a vacuum and songs frequently draw on trends, historical riffs and other inspiration available to writers — who may be influenced unknowingly. There is, of course, a fine line between building on history and stealing. Less a case of black and white and more an issue of distinguishing between greys, Medalie and Universal will have to compare notes and perspectives.
Sources close to the EBU tell Y Net that today’s letter and any potential lawsuit will not impact Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.
What do you make of all this? Do you hear similarities? Do you think they are deliberate? And are you surprised that Universal is pursuing this?