Ed Sheeran has revealed the emotional and creative cost of being taken to court over plagiarism claims, revealing he now films all of his songwriting sessions, just in case.
The singer-songwriter gave an interview to the BBC following his victory this week in London’s High Court, where a judge ruled in favour of Sheeran and said that he had not “deliberately or subconsciously” copied the work of artist Sami Switch for his massive 2017 hit Shape of You.
Sheeran said that his sessions with musical collaborators were now full of fear that “they might be touching someone else’s note.”
He said, “Now I just film everything, everything is on film. We’ve had claims come through on the songs and we go, ‘Well here’s the footage and you watch. You’ll see there’s nothing there.’”
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He added, “There’s the George Harrison point where he said he’s scared to touch the piano because he might be touching someone else’s note. There is definitely a feeling of that in the studio. I personally think the best feeling in the world is the euphoria around the first idea of writing a great song. That feeling has now turned into, ‘Oh wait, let’s stand back for a minute.’”
Sheeran repeated the point he made following his High Court victory, that “coincidences were bound to happen” in an industry where 22 million songs were released each year, and only 12 notes were available to songwriters.
During the trial, Sheeran demonstrated his point in the courtroom by breaking into song and humming musical scales and melodies from Blackstreet’s No Diggity and Nina Simone’s classic Feeling Good to demonstrate how common the melody that Shape of You uses is.
He told the court the song used a “basic minor pentatonic pattern” which is “entirely commonplace”.
Sheeran and his Shape of You co-writers Johnny McDaid and Steve McCutcheon had previously settled a claim made by the writers of TLC’s 90’s hit No Scrubs. Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle and producer Kevin Briggs have since 2017 appeared on American copyright website ASCAP’s listing of the song.
Shape of You, which Sheeran said he had originally thought could be performed by Rihanna or Little Mix, was a worldwide hit and the UK’s bestselling song of 2017.
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