I don’t know who still hasn’t heard this hit by British singer Sam Smith. It’s made him a star in the USA. It’s just a really catchy song.
But did he steal it? According to a settlement that has just come to light, he will have to share songwriting royalties with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, the writers of the 1989 hit, I Won’t Back Down. But did he knowingly copy the song?
Sam Smith is losing credit and losing money as the writer of a hit pop song.
When I listen to I Won’t Back Down and compare it to Stay With Me…well, yes, there are some major similarities. But enough for 12.5% of the royalties? Now how is Sam Smith going to eat?
It’s good for the proper songwriters to get paid, but it should depend on the actual intention of Sam Smith and collaborator Jimmy Napes. Were they indeed thinking of Petty’s song at the time of writing? They’ve stated they had not previously heard the song. There are such coincidences in the world of music.
The change in songwriting credit now disqualifies Smith and Lynne from a Grammy award, at least not the full award they were set to receive. But if it’s all a coincidence, why should the consequences reach so deep?