Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Exclusive: Alicia Keys Settled “Girl On Fire” Suit with “Lonely Girl” Songwriters


So: last December I told you that Alicia Keys et al. were sued by songwriter Earl Shuman. He and his songwriting partner had written the classic hit “Hey There Lonely Girl,” which was a big hit for Eddie Holman in 1969-70. Toward the end of “Girl on Fire,” Alicia sings a couplet from the chorus of “Hey There Lonely Girl.” It’s the melody and the lyrics. They’re not credited or cleared, and Shuman and his late partner weren’t paid.

I did wonder what happened. The situation is a lot like the Nirvana sample in Jay Z and Justin Timberlake’s “Holy Grail.” Only they paid for it and credited the group when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” pops up for no reason in their song.

Now I see that Keys et al. quietly settled with Shuman back in April and the lawsuit filed in the Central District Court of California was withdrawn. I had heard that Keys et al. had paid Shuman. It’s unknown whether Shuman will get his name added to the credits.

Keys is a prolific sampler and borrower of music. Her biggest hits are all based on pre-existing songs. “Empire State of Mind” comes from The Moments’ “Love on a Two Way Street.” “You Don’t Know My Name” comes from an obscure song by The Main Ingredient. And so on. In “Girl On Fire,” Keys also samples a drum riff from Billy Squiers. She had already used it once before in 2007 for another song.

Nevertheless “Girl on Fire” remains a track that’s held up for almost a year. It should be nominated for Record of the Year because the idea is original. I just wish Keys, who is so talented, would stop all the sampling. It undermines her legacy as a composer. She doesn’t need it.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
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.

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