Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” the trop-pop song written with Rihanna in mind, is a musical juggernaut. It’s become one of the most dominant No.1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the last 25 years; assisted, as the lead single, in making Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) album 2017s biggest-selling after just one week; and shot the singer to the top of Billboard’s Artist 100 list (which measures metrics of music consumption, album and track sales, radio airplay, and streaming and social media fan interaction).
But, despite its omnipresence, there’s still something about the song that remained unknown until recently.
On Friday (March 17), Kandi Burruss (of XSCAPE and Real Housewives of Atlanta fame) posted a video to her Instagram account of a child dancing to Sheeran’s hit and thanked the singer “for allowing [Tameka “Tiny” Harris] & I to share in the success of #ShapeOfYou.”
(Harris, née Cottle, T.I.’s wife, is also a former member of XSCAPE.)
The ASCAP site also now credits Burruss and Cottle as songwriters to the track, and though neither of entertainers has mentioned in what capacity the duo contributed to the song, many Twitter users recognized upon the release of “Shape of You” that it sounded eerily similar to TLC’s “No Scrubs,” which Burruss and Cottle did write.
The chords in question are Sheeran’s “Shape of You” pre-chorus…
“Girl, you know I want your love / Your love was handmade for somebody like me / Come on now, follow my lead / I may be crazy, don’t mind me.”
…which sounds similar in rhythm to the chorus of “No Scrubs”:
“I don’t want no scrubs / A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me / Hangin’ out the passenger side / Of his best friend’s ride / Trying to holla at me.”
Hear the similarities below at the :36 mark:
And the :40 mark:
Idolator noted that even singer and former Girl Meets World star Sabrina Carpenter took notice of the resemblance and got behind the piano to sing a mash-up of the two:
But Sheeran isn’t the only singer who’s had to likely pony up credits or cash after eager ears call them out. Here are five other acts who have found themselves in the same boat.
Mark Ronson, “Uptown Funk” vs. The Gap Band, “Oops Upside Your Head”
In 2015, the songwriting credits to Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” were adjusted to include the five writers behind The Gap Band’s 1979 hit “Oops Upside Your Head” after they advanced a claim, via YouTube’s rights management system, citing similarities between the two tracks. Upon listening, featured guest vocalist Bruno Mars’ “Up-town / funk you up” boasts the same rhythm as the band’s “Oops! Up / side your head!”
The Chainsmokers, “Closer” vs. The Fray, “Over My Head (Cable Car)”
Last year, the Fray’s Isaac Slade and Joe King retroactively received co-writing credits on the Chainsmokers’ hit after it was discovered that the EDM song’s synth line boasted a resemblance to the piano line of the 12-year-old pop-rock track.
Sam Smith, “Stay With Me” vs. Tom Petty, “I Won’t Back Down”
In 2015, Sam Smith agreed to pay songwriting royalties to Tom Petty and his co-writer of their classic “I Won’t Back Down” after listeners noticed that Smith’s “Stay With Me” chorus bore similarity to the driving melody of the 1989 track.
Kelly Clarkson, “Heartbeat Song” vs. Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle”
In 2015, Clarkson admitted to Rolling Stone that she didn’t initially catch the comparisons between her Piece by Piece lead single and the 14-year-old Jimmy Eat World hit. But by the time the 2016 ASCAP Pop Music Awards rolled around, the alt-rock band appeared on the song’s writer credits.
Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines” vs. Marvin Gaye, “Got To Give It Up”
This infamous battle could likely be credited as the reason so many artists soon thereafter settled privately and courteously when challenged about song similarities. In fact, in the wake of the “Blurred Lines” verdict, in which Thicke and producer Pharrell were ordered to pay the Gaye estate $7.3 million for copyright infringement, Danny Zook—the manager of Trinidad James, who also received writing credit on the aforementioned “Uptown Funk” after it was discovered that “portions” of his “All Gold Everything” were “embedded” in Ronson’s song—said:
“Everyone is being a little more cautious. Nobody wants to be involved in a lawsuit. Once a copyright dispute goes to a trial, [if a jury is used], it is subject to be decided by public opinion — and no longer resolved based entirely on copyright law.”
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