LLast Friday, British pop star Ed Sheeran released “Bad Habits”, the first single from his upcoming album. Less. The song, which is set to debut at No. 1 on the UK charts, is a strong contender for this year’s summer song. But the earworm has already earned Sheeran familiar charges of theft.

Lyrically and musically the song is nothing special, but “Bad Habits” marks a diversion from the acoustic repertoire of the dancehall-inspired musician to the ever-popular dance-pop genre. The simultaneous release of her music video also signaled an aesthetic change for Sheeran, who has been both admired and ridiculed for her effortless flannel and denim style over the years. The dismal, concept-based video, directed by Dave Myers, features the singer as a flying, rampaging vampire around town along with his other fanged punk peers in Bowie-esque glittery eye makeup, acrylic claws, blue contacts and a hot pink suit.

Soon after the video’s release, however, viewers on Twitter began to draw comparisons to The Weeknd’s highly cinematic film. After hours An era, in which the Canadian R & B / pop singer played an unnamed antihero in a daring red suit during his live performances, red carpet appearances and music videos.

“Shit… After Hours already have sons ?? It’s only been a year, ”one user said in response to the video.

“Absolutely devastated that I have to hear Ed Sheeran’s bad print song The Weeknd in every store and on every radio station for next year,” tweeted another.

The song’s themes of indulgence and self-destruction (“my bad habits lead to late nights on my own / conversations with a stranger I barely know / swear it will be the last, but it probably won’t be. the case ‘) set on the’ 80s dance beat also struck some as similar to The Weeknd’s hit album, including The GuardianAlexis Petridis who emphasized his “influence in his lyrical amalgamation of sex with compulsive and devastated hedonism”.

Interestingly, The Weeknd is considered a primary point of reference for Sheeran’s new work, not only because his recent music is so obviously inspired by artists before him, but because both musicians made the subject to several plagiarism prosecutions in a short period of time. the public eye. While The Weeknd’s reputation was hardly crippled by these accusations, his foray into ’80s dance-pop on After hours has been widely interpreted as self-conscious homage as opposed to theft – Sheeran’s quick legacy of copying the homework of his peers has left a stronger imprint on how his art is viewed and challenged by the public, this which made “bad habits” as another responsibility rather than a nifty transition into the updated disco sounds of the new decade.

Sheeran’s quick legacy of copying the homework of his peers has left a bigger imprint on how his art is viewed and challenged by the public …

That said, the most cheeky aspect of Sheeran’s latest offering is how it actually looks. While younger Sheeran fans may not be familiar with the origins of the ’80s synth lines that he – and The Weeknd – use so heavily on their records, several critics claim that “Bad Habits” owes a large part from its sound to the 1984 Bronski Beat hit “Smalltown Boy”, although the group is not credited. In his review for The independentAlan White called it an “unbilled but aggressively pilfered sample.” Additionally, Kylie Minogue fans might notice a strange resemblance to her 2001 record “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”.

As I hinted at earlier, Sheeran is certainly not the only major artist to be sued by musicians, young and old, for copyright infringement (or simply called online). But his astronomical rise to the rank of radio and streaming juggernaut, especially amid the massive legal battle that befell Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” led by the Marvin Gaye estate, made those allegations more catchy and seemingly important repeats in the rapidly changing music industry. It also doesn’t help that Sheeran became a superstar – while simultaneously adding elements of soul, hip hop and dancehall to his sound – as cultural theft was heavily debated on the internet, making him known as a pirate. full air.

Oddly enough, the most notable and discussed of these allegations involved no prosecution, but Sheeran accepted defeat when he credited Xscape members Kandi Burruss (also a cast member on The Real Housewives of Atlanta) and Tameka “Tiny” Harris on her hit “Shape of You” “in 2017 after social media users suggested the song’s pre-chorus sounded like TLC’s” No Scrubs, “which the couple co- Just a month after this amendment, Sheeran credited songwriters Mark Harrington and Thomas Leonard for his 2014 song “Photograph,” settling a $ 20 million lawsuit in which the couple claimed he had ripped off a song they wrote for the 2010 winner of The X factor, Matt Cardle says “Unbelievable”. And a year later, in 2018, he settled another lawsuit, with country singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, for a song he co-wrote with the duo called “The Rest of Our Life” that the musicians Australians Sean Carey and Beau Golden have claimed was a “blatant copy” of the song they wrote for artist Jasmine Rae called “When I Found You”.

But Sheeran’s legal troubles are hardly a thing of the past. Currently, his royalties for “Shape of You” are suspended by the UK High Court after an artist named Sam Chroki claimed the song borrowed the chorus from his song “Oh Why”, which he sent to Sheeran circle to try and work with. the artist. And earlier in March, a U.S. judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit from a company called Structured Asset Sales LLC, which claims it owns a third of the estate of “Let’s Get It On” co-author Ed Townsend, who is currently suing Sheeran for copyright. violation of Marvin Gaye’s track, claiming Sheeran’s hit “Thinking Out Loud” ripped him off. Considering the aforementioned media spectacle regarding the use of Gaye’s catalog, Sheeran is sure to make more headlines as this case progresses.

As “Bad Habits” takes over pop radio and Spotify playlists this summer, it will be interesting to see if the party anthem will cause one of its industry peers to cry foul. If his long legal history is any indication, that won’t stop him from producing another spinoff hit, and his unsuspecting fans eagerly consuming it.

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