Sep 22, 2023 2 min read

Zayn Malik accused of ripping off earlier track to make his song Better

Zayn Malik has been accused of song theft, with another artist claiming that 2020’s ‘Better’ ripped off an earlier song, which the one time 1Der may have had access to via a marketing agency

Zayn Malik accused of ripping off earlier track to make his song Better

Zayn Malik is the latest artist on the receiving end of a song theft lawsuit. He is accused of ripping off a 2018 song written by Patrick Simmons, who performs as Havyn, on his 2020 track 'Better'. Maybe because stealing from the earlier work made Malik’s song, well, better.

Simmons' song is called 'Somebody Tonight', and his lawsuit doesn't go into any great detail about the similarities between his track and Malik’s. But it does say that the two songs "contain essential compositional elements so similar as to evidence the conscious copying of one in pursuit of the creation of the other".

"Resulting from this unlawful copying", it adds, "are two songs so similar that the ordinary observer can only conclude that 'Better' would not exist but for the copying of 'Somebody Tonight'".

The lawsuit does provide a more detailed theory for how Malik and his collaborators on 'Better' might have heard 'Somebody Tonight' before writing their song.

Simmons says that, in April 2020, he hired the services of Modern Music Marketing to promote one of his songs called 'People Change’. His contact at the marketing agency, Jonah Rinder, subsequently took a particular interest in 'Somebody Tonight' - the lawsuit alleges - and he asked for permission to send the track to his industry contacts.

Rinder said he'd promote the song, including within the industry, for free, on the basis that he would get a finder's fee should a label sign the track or another artist seek to record a version of it. Simmons and Rinder then corresponded about the latter's promotional efforts through to October 2020.

Then Simmons heard 'Better'. Noting the similarities, he asked Rinder about Malik’s track, which Rinder confirmed he had “worked”. When Simmons asked Rinder whether 'Better' sounded familiar, he replied "kind of". When more specifically asked whether Malik and his team might have actually based 'Better' on 'Somebody Tonight,' Rinder replied: "How would I know?"

So, the theory goes in the lawsuit, Team Malik got a copy of Simmons' track via Rinder and his marketing agency, and then the process of song theft began.

Does this kind of song theft allegation sound familiar? Kind of. Does Simmons have a viable case? How would I know?

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