|FRIDAY 18 MARCH 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The ongoing song theft dispute in London's high court over Ed Sheeran's hit 'Shape Of You' got to the musicologist stage this week. Both sides in the dispute had expert musicologists analyse the similarities between Sheeran's song and Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue's earlier track 'Oh Why'. And who'd have thought it possible, but Sheeran's musicologist reckons the similarities between the two songs are coincidental, while Chokri's expert says that's highly unlikely... [READ MORE]|
Musicologists conclude that Shape Of You rips off Oh Why - or doesn't - as Ed Sheeran song-theft case proceeds
Chokri reckons that Sheeran got a copy of his 2015 track 'Oh Why' through mutual friends or industry connections, not least because he'd tried very hard to get his song in front of the star. Then, the theory goes, when Sheeran and his songwriting pals got together in late 2016 to write 'Shape Of You', Sheeran either consciously or subconsciously utilised a key element of the earlier song within his hit.
But Sheeran and his collaborators deny having ever heard 'Oh Why' before writing 'Shape Of You'. Meanwhile, they argue, the elements that are shared by the two songs are pretty commonplace in pop music, which means it's not entirely unlikely that two separate songwriters would separately write songs that sound similar in that way.
Song theft disputes of this kind always require the input of at least two musicologists to muse on the extent to which the two songs at the centre of the dispute are the same.
One musicologist will say that they are so similar that the newer track must have copied the older track. The other musicologist will then dispute that point. And then everyone in court has a little ponder about how 'musicologist' can even be a real job. Which is to say, this section never seems to achieve much, but is a requirement nonetheless.
Actually, according to the BBC, the Sheeran-appointed expert Anthony Ricigliano and Chokri-hired musicologist Christian Siddell did agree on some things in relation to similar segment of the two songs - which is the "oh why, oh why, oh why, oh" line in 'Oh Why' and the "oh I, oh I, oh I, oh I" line in 'Shape Of You'.
"When heard in the context of their respective works, the words 'oh why' and 'oh I' may be phonetically indistinguishable from each other to the casual listener", the two experts conceded in a joint written statement, while both musicologists also confirmed that they hadn't found "the same combination" of phonetic sounds, pitch and rhythm "in any other compositions".
However, Ricigliano insists, "the overall design and musical development of the melodic, harmonic and lyrical content in the relevant phrase in 'Shape Of You' are distinctively different from that utilised in 'Oh Why'". Therefore the similarities were likely "coincidental" and not the "result from copying".
In court, Chokri's lawyer Andrew Sutcliffe honed in on the fact Ricigliano hadn't found any other songs with the same combination of phonetic sounds, adding: "Do you not find this extraordinary?" But no, Ricigliano did not find that extraordinary at all.
After all, he concurred with Sheeran's argument that the "oh I" melody is a "basic minor pentatonic pattern", which is pretty common in pop music.
Backing up Sheeran's point, Ricigliano paraphrased legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, who once said something to the effect of "the pentatonic scale is humanity's favourite scale and is so well known that one can find examples of it from all corners of the Earth".
But, of course, Siddell argued that the similarities between the key segments of the two songs were "so numerous and striking that the possibility of independent creation is … highly improbable".
After all, they are "nearly identical in respect of their rhythm and pitch" and "musically indistinguishable to the ear". To Siddell these similarities seemed "unlikely to be the consequence of coincidence".
Earlier in the week as the song-theft dispute continued to go through the motions, we also got statements from Chokri's former management firm Artists & Company which backed up his testimony regarding all the various attempts to get a copy of 'Oh Why' into the hands of Sheeran back in 2015.
The management company also confirmed that - once 'Shape Of You' was released and Chokri's team initially approached Sheeran's team about the similarities between the new track and 'Oh Why' - they were basically told to "get lost", which only made Chokri and his managers feel more cheated.
The case continues.
Nat King Cole estate sell musician's later recordings to Universal Music
Cole had a career-long relationship with Capitol Records, which was acquired by Universal when it bought the EMI record company back in 2012. However, in the latter part of his career a by then famous Cole negotiated a deal with Capitol that allowed him to retain the rights in his later recordings, which he then licensed back to the label.
According to Forbes, the estate sold those rights to Universal in a deal worth somewhere between $10 million and $20 million. It means all of Cole's recordings catalogue of around 400 tracks now belongs to the major.
The estate's deal with the Iconic Artists Group does give that company an interest in Cole's music rights too, though that's presumably a royalty right on the recordings side, allowing it to collect any artist royalties due on the Universal controlled recordings. Iconic will also manage Cole's image and legacy.
Back at Universal, it has also announced the release of a new Cole rarities collection which includes five recordings that have never been available to stream before, including 'The Magic Tree', 'Early American', 'The Day Isn't Long Enough', 'My First And My Last Love' and 'Easter Sunday Morning'.
Universal UK merges its EMI and Capitol labels
Universal acquired both the Capitol and EMI brands as part of its acquisition of the old EMI major record company back in 2012, the UK-based EMI having bought the US-based Capitol Records all the way back in 1955.
With Universal's purchase of its record company and Sony's acquisition of its music publishing business, EMI ceased to exist as a standalone major music company, of course, but the EMI brand lived on in various ways.
One way the brand was kept alive was through the creation of a Universal UK division called Virgin EMI in 2013 - which brought together the catalogues of Universal's existing Mercury Records division and the Virgin Records label it acquired as part of the EMI deal. That division then dropped the Virgin part of its name in 2020.
Over in the US, where Capitol had always been EMI's flagship brand, Universal put most of the assets it had acquired as part of the EMI deal under the Capitol Music Group banner. Meanwhile, back in the UK, just for giggles I think, Universal decided to rebrand its London Records label as Capitol Records UK.
I'm providing this short history lesson, in case you wondered, because Universal says that - by merging its EMI and Capitol teams and rosters - it is "reuniting two historic labels whose partnership goes back almost 70 years". Which is almost sort of true. And now you know why. You're welcome.
Not only that, but the merger will - adds Universal - "give Capitol's artists access to EMI's industry-leading teams and expertise in what is gearing up to be a busy year for both labels". Which sounds lovely. Game changing? No. Unless it's a pretty lacklustre game you're playing. Though, turns out, as you will see, that's a pretty controversial opinion I just expressed there.
Until January this year the Capitol UK label was headed up by co-Presidents Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington. Following Raphael's departure at the start of the year it was thought that Charrington would drop the "co" part of her job title, but alas no. Though she is now co-President of a bigger label, alongside existing EMI President Rebecca Allen.
"This is a game changing moment for EMI", reckons Universal Music UK boss David Joseph. "Becky and Jo make an exceptional team with a united vision for what a modern record label should be. Becky's leadership together with Jo's unrivalled A&R track record sets up what promises to be an exciting new era for EMI and their artists".
Charrington adds: "I'm honoured to be joining Becky and the outstanding EMI team at what is an incredibly exciting time for the label. It really does feel like the stars have aligned for us both. For a label steeped in history and culture, our ambition and vision is simple. We want to develop and nurture the very best talent from across the world. Talent whose artistry will no doubt write the next chapter of EMI's legacy as the UK's most celebrated record label".
And Allen says: "I'm delighted to begin this journey with Jo and to welcome the brilliant Capitol team to EMI. Jo is someone who I have always admired and respected, both as a friend and as an outstanding executive. We've built a fantastic relationship over the years and we will be running a label that is both innovative and forward thinking with our artists and their music always at the heart".
Team appointed to run new central London venues at Outernet
The bigger Outernet venue is hoping to fill the gap left by the closure of the old London Astoria venue back in 2009, which was situated across the road from where the new development is based before being demolished as part of the Crossrail development.
Meanwhile, having a smaller venue based on and sharing its name with the old 12 Bar Club is basically an effort to placate those who see developments like Outernet in central London as damaging the cultural fabric of the capital, especially around Denmark Street with its long-standing connections with the music industry. Although using the 12 Bar Club name did then result in a bit of trademark dispute with the venue's original owner.
The two new Outernet venues will be headed up by Robert Butters and Karrie Goldberg and their company Green Light Development. Butters previously worked for the Really Useful Group and Live Nation forerunner SFX (the original SFX) before setting up his own business. Goldberg is also founder of booking agency The Kagency.
A senior management team has also been appointed, including Tristan Hoffman as Chief Operating Officer, Leo Green as Artistic Director, Octavia Harwood as Operations Manager, and Shannon Tebay at Beverage Director.
Confirming their involvement, Butters and Goldberg say in a joint statement: "We have two amazing venues that sit at the heart of London's first music, media and culture district. Launching Outernet Live is going to be very special as we combine a world class venue with the power of the wider Outernet campus".
Arcade Fire announce new album We
The first single - 'Lightning I, II' - was recorded in El Paso, Texas "in the shadow of the Mexican border wall, which lay unfinished at the edge of the property", as the results of the 2020 US presidential election came in, recalls frontman Win Butler.
"It was peak COVID", he goes on. "El Paso was the epicentre in the US at that time, they were using prison inmates to move bodies to the overfull morgues, because the healthcare system was completely overwhelmed".
"I'll never forget finishing the take and walking straight to our outdoor communal space where we had screwed a television into a tree so we could watch election results outside, to see the news that Trump had lost the election", he continues.
"The emotion in the vocal was inspired by the Haitian immigrants that were amassing on the US border, after boarding ships from Haiti and walking from as far as Brazil for a chance at freedom, only to be met with whips and dogs and officers on horseback".
"I was lyrically inspired by the optimism I see in my child living in paradise 'beneath a poison sky'", he concludes. "But mostly we wanted to play the song so fast and hard that you can't breathe when it's over… with the realisation that you can't win them all, even when you give it all".
Produced by Butler, Régine Chassagne and Nigel Godrich, 'We' will be released on 6 May. Watch the video for 'Lightning I, II' here.
Moonchild Sanelly announces new album, Phases
"This song means so much to me", she says of the single. "Especially as the people being entertained in the strip club are the ones condemning these women in the outside world. This is my love letter to the hustlers, the strippers and the twerkers - a celebration of the continuously judged. These people are doing what they need to for their hustle, and whenever there's a woman fighting for survival I'm going to celebrate her and make her voice heard".
"I want to change the narrative of [strip] clubs being perceived as foul spaces, and turn them into a space of liberation - to teach respectful culture, and tell people to come correct to witness the beauty and the hustle of the underrepresented", she adds.
Of the album as a whole, she goes on: "I want people to relate to the stories I'm telling. Liberation for women, in the bedroom, in the boardroom, knowing your power… I need to be heard by a lot of people. I think that, with this album, I've managed to piece all the different parts of me together, because I'm known for different things in different parts of the world. I think you get to know me better with 'Phases' - all the different sides of me".
'Phases' is set for release on 10 Jun. Ahead of that, she will play some UK shows, with a performance at Village Underground in London on 10 May and two shows at The Great Escape festival in Brighton on 12-13 May.
Peaceville Records has signed Sigh to release their twelfth studio album later this year. "I've been following Peaceville's history from the very beginning", says Sigh's Mirai Kawashima. "So when Sigh needed a new home for the new album, Peaceville was an obvious choice. I am very happy to work with them and really cannot wait for the new album to come out through them later this year!"
Jason Derulo has released new single 'Ayo Girl (Fayahh Beat)', with Robinson and Rema.
After teaming up with Ed Sheeran, Bring Me The Horizon have now released a collaboration with Machine Gun Kelly. Here it is - 'Maybe'.
Muse will release new album 'Will Of The People' on 26 Aug. Here's new single 'Compliance'.
Tool have released their first music video for fifteen years, for their new version of 'Opiate'.
Warpaint have released the video for their latest single 'Champion'.
Radiohead offshoot The Smile have released new single 'Skrting On The Surface'.
Tones & I has released new single 'Eyes Don't Lie'. She is also set to play shows in London, Dublin and Glasgow in July.
New Kids On The Block have released new single 'Bring Back The Time', for which they have enlisted Salt N Pepa, Rick Astley and En Vogue. Yeah, you never dared dream it would happen, and now it has.
Def Leppard will release new album 'Diamond Star Halos' on 27 May. From it, this is new single 'Kick'.
Lights has released new single 'In My Head', featuring Josh Dun.
Sudan Archives has released new single 'Home Maker'.
Saya Gray has released new single 'If There's No Seat In The Sky (Will You Forgive Me???)'. Her debut album, '19 Masters', is out on 2 Jun.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Dolly Parton still up for Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction, whether she likes it or not
In a statement at the beginning of this week, while she sat in fourth position in the Hall Of Fame's fan vote, Parton said: "Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, I don't feel that I have earned that right. I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out".
She added that the nomination had convinced her that she should record a rock n roll album, after which she hoped that she might be considered again. Although, of course, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame museum considers entire careers when deciding who to include, rather than individual albums, so I'm not sure that would help to tip the balance. Plus, as everyone except Parton seems to know, the Hall has quite a broad definition of rock n roll.
Actually, by Thursday, she had learned more about that, but nevertheless said in an interview on Fox & Friends that she still felt the same as she had on Monday, explaining: "I just feel like that's more for the people in rock music. I've been educated since then, saying that it's more than that, but I still didn't feel right about it. It kind of would be like putting AC/DC in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. That just felt a little out of place for me".
So, Dolly doesn't want in. But that doesn't mean she's out. With voting well under way, almost 300,000 votes have been cast for her on the fan ballot, and because of that the Hall is not about to pull her out of the running.
"All of us in the music community have seen Dolly Parton's thoughtful note expressing her feeling that she has not earned the right to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame", organisers said in a statement yesterday. "In addition to her incredible talent as an artist, her humility is another reason Dolly is a beloved icon by millions of fans around the world".
"From its inception, rock n roll has had deep roots in rhythm & blues and country music", they go on. "It is not defined by any one genre, rather a sound that moves youth culture. Dolly Parton's music impacted a generation of young fans and influenced countless artists that followed. Her nomination to be considered for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame followed the same process as all other artists who have been considered".
"Dolly's nomination, along with the other sixteen for the class of 2022, was sent out earlier this month to our 1200 general ballot voters, the majority of whom are artists themselves, for consideration for induction at our ceremony", the statement concludes. "We are in awe of Dolly's brilliant talent and pioneering spirit and are proud to have nominated her for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame".
So, if the fan vote reflects the broader feeling of those general ballot voters, it looks like Parton will be inducted into the Hall later this year whether she likes it or not. And she wouldn't be the first in the "or not" camp. Although she's possibly the first to go around telling everyone she simply doesn't deserve the honour of induction.