Home Uncategorized “Hey There Lonely Girl” Writer Files Suit Against Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is a Girl in Trouble today. Earl Shuman, the co-songwriter (with the late Leon Carr) of “Hey There Lonely Girl,” has filed suit against her in Los Angeles for copyright infringement. Some of the suit is based on my reporting. Hopefully musicologists will be called in, etc., experts who can testify about Keys’s use of two lines from the chorus of “Hey There Lonely Girl” in “Girl on Fire.” (The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner reported the suit as well, mentioning my inclusion. But for some reason people at that dreadful website don’t pick up the phone and call people they’re writing about.)

Anyway, anyone who listens to “Girl on Fire” can hear Alicia sing “she’s a lonely girl/in a lonely world” about her burning subject. Why Keys or someone with her didn’t just clear this sample is beyond me. Keys is a sampling queen, with loads of history in this department. What makes it disturbing is that if someone had done the same thing to Keys–like take her “If I Ain’t Got You” or her new song “Brand New Me”– and done the same thing, she’d be the Girl on Fire indeed.



Hey There Lonely Girl:


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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
5 replies to this post
  1. “Nobody knows that she’s a lonely girl
    And it’s a lonely world” Alicia Keys
    The ONLY similiarity is the use of “lonely girl”

    “Oh, my lonely girl, lonely girl
    Don’t you know this lonely girl loves you
    Oh my lonely girl, lonely girl
    Don’t you know this lonely boy loves you” Shuman’s chorus.

    Paul Anka wrote “Lonely Boy” in 1956 I think it was. if Schuman has a case against Keys, then Anka can sue Shuman

  2. Roger’s use of the term “sample” confuses me. “anyone who listens to “Girl on Fire” can hear Alicia sing” and then refers to that as a sample. If it was a sample, wouldn’t they be hearing Eddie Holman singing it?

  3. Rev. Keith A. Gordon-

    I beg to differ. Mariah Carey quoted lines from Bobby Womack song “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” & Babyface written tune “Two Occasions” from his earlier R&B group The Deele in her huge hit “We Belong Together” and she shared writing credits and royalties with both artists. What say you now?

  4. Good luck to Mr. Shuman in his lawsuit, as I don’t personally think that he has a leg to stand on. From what I’m reading, Keys didn’t “sample” a previous recording in the conventional sense but rather quoted two lines in the middle of her original composition.

    This sort of use has a long tradition in folk, blues, and jazz music and is more of an homage than copyright infringement. It’s unlikely that anybody will be confused by Keys use of the lines and mistake her song for Shuman’s. Anything is possible in court, but Keys will probably settle out of court for a small sum just to make the songwriter go away…

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