Lady Gaga accused of copying parts of her song ‘Shallow’ from another artist

91st Academy Awards (Oscars 2019)

I feel like we’re going through an odd cycle where lots of high-profile musical artists are getting sued for copyright infringement. Katy Perry was just successfully sued over “Dark Horse.” Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were successfully sued for that terrible song too. Sam Smith settled out of court with Tom Petty. And on and on. So, now someone’s suing Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson over the Oscar-winning song “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born. Gaga is not backing down:

Lady Gaga is being threatened with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by an unknown songwriter who claims the melody of her Oscar-winning song “Shallow” from her hit movie “A Star Is Born” was stolen from a song he released in 2012. The nine-time Grammy-winning artist has been hit with a legal threat by songwriter Steve Ronsen who claims just a few notes — specifically, a three-note progression — in “Shallow” is based on his song “Almost,” which appears to have fewer than 300 streams on SoundCloud as of this writing. The three notes — G, A, B — correspond to the hook of “Shallow.”

Ronsen and his attorney Mark D. Shirian are asking for “millions and millions” of dollars in a settlement, we’re told, while threatening to go public with their claims, in a move that Gaga’s team is branding as a “brazen shakedown.” Gaga, 33, has hired NYC power attorney Orin Snyder, who says the superstar will not back down.

Snyder said, “Mr. Ronsen and his lawyer are trying to make easy money off the back of a successful artist. It is shameful and wrong. I applaud Lady Gaga for having the courage and integrity to stand up on behalf of successful artists who find themselves on the receiving end of such [claims]. Should Mr. Shirian proceed with this case, Lady Gaga will fight it vigorously and will prevail.”

“Almost” songwriter Ronsen appears to be a prolific working musician who had a solo album released in 2012, and now is the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for a touring Nashville band. He could not immediately be reached. When contacted by Page Six on Thursday, Ronsen’s attorney Shirian provided the following statement: “In an effort to amicably resolve this matter months ago, my office provided Lady Gaga’s legal team, at their request, with an official report from a renowned and respected musicologist and professor who determined that there are significant tempo, melodic, rhythmic and harmonic similarities between the two ‘hooks’ of the songs at issue. Lady Gaga’s team has yet to provide my office with an opposing musicologist report, which we have requested multiple times.”

[From Page Six]

Before I listened to the Steve Ronsen’s song, I just read Gaga’s statement about fighting all of this and it sounded like a nuisance lawsuit, or some barely-known artist trying to tie himself to a massively popular song/artist. But then I listened to his song “Almost” and WOW, Gaga really copied that sh-t, right? I’ll admit to having sort of tin ear about this stuff – most of the time, I can’t hear many similarities in these kinds of cases. But I definitely hear it here.

91st Academy Awards (Oscars 2019)

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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32 Responses to “Lady Gaga accused of copying parts of her song ‘Shallow’ from another artist”

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  1. Nev says:

    I believe it.

    • Bella Bella says:

      I don’t know. It’s a 3-note progression, that’s it. With all these lawsuits soon people won’t be able to use notes in a certain order anymore.

  2. MachineElf says:

    Wow at first I thought this guy was up to no good, but, he has a point. The similarity between the songs is quite blatant. Is there a chance it was accidental? Like she heard the song once, forgot, and then thought the hook was some stroke of inspiration?

    • savu says:

      That’s what I struggle with when it comes to all these lawsuits. Some are super-popular songs like the Marvin Gaye/Blurred Lines one. At what point are similarities in music expected, when ANYBODY can make music and put it online? Is it possible two people write songs 6ish years apart and there’s a similar 3-note progression? If I had heard that song somewhere random (where I was not playing music, it was on at the grocery store or whatever) would I even remember hearing it? I think this guy would have to prove it’s possible Gaga heard it, like how the guy who sued Katy Perry had to prove it was played at events she attended. That song was way more popular. I find it hard to believe Gaga was somehow exposed to it.
      Note: I’m not saying she did or didn’t copy it, just exploring this whole concept.

      • Scotchy says:

        @ Savu I agree with you.
        All pop songs are essentially copies. Almost all progressions have been influenced by another somewhere and to be honest this guys song isn’t original, either. As a songwriter, these suits are getting tiresome.
        Gaga may not have even been responsible for writing that progression. When you are at that level of music making ideas are brought to you and in this case there were 4 other writers. They may or may not have heard this song. Honestly I think this guy is trying to raise his profile. I am a songwriter myself and have heard variations of songs I have written being done. I am not out here trying to sue. I know how it works and to be honest don’t presume they would have actually heard my track.

  3. Rhys says:

    It does sound similar but I don’t think it’ll come to anything. It’s very difficult to prove you’ve been plagiarized. A vast majority of music today sounds very similar and how much of it is intentional? Good luck to him.

  4. jennifer says:

    It does remind me of Shallow, but it also reminds me of another song, something by the Goo Goo Dolls maybe? Slide?

    • Rachel MST says:

      Yes, I definitely hear similarities to “Slide.” And maybe I’m crazy, but it also reminds me a little of “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas.

      • greenmonster says:

        YES! “Dust in the Wind” is what I hear as well. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I thought ‘this sounds familiar but it is not Shallow… it’s something much older’.

      • ZanB says:

        Definitely “Dust in the Wind”!

  5. ds says:

    I really don’t like this attitude – “trying to make easy money off the back of a successful artist. It is shameful and wrong.” To me it’s wrong not responding at all and when the person doesn’t back down you paint them as a greedy villain. You know what would cost her nothing? Asking a guy to perform a song together or something. I dunno – help fellow artist. Especially if there are no copyright questions. It is SOOOO possible for people to have similar ideas and execute them in different ways. Why not support someone who had the same idea as you, especially if it’s so similar. Or whatever I’m trying to be positive today. Like – let’s all hold hands and sing.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Why would she want to give someone who is suing her the honor (and attention) of performing with her???? It isn’t a collaborative thing, to sue someone, so I don’t get why you’d think she has to be kind to the guy that is going after her work.

      Additionally, this is a scam that artists get threatened with all of the time. It is incredibly unrealistic to expect a successful artist to reach out to every person that threatens to frivolously sue them. The artist themselves is typically not made aware, and it is handled by their professional team. This is a con, she should not reward it or waste her time with it.

  6. Mia4s says:

    Wow that’s a rough one. I can hear it a bit.

    Being a songwriter must be so scary to an extent. It’s so easy for tunes to get in your head. I always remember the famous story of Paul McCartney waking up with the song Yesterday in his head and the playing it for Lennon and many others before he would record it. He was convinced he must have heard it somewhere. Nerve wracking!

  7. Yvette says:

    LOL! Why is this such a surprise? Gaga has done this since she came on the scene. Of all the artists she has ‘borrowed’ from the one whom i was most surprised didn’t and hasn’t sued her is Madonna because, one of Gaga’s hits is, to me, a straight rip off of Madonna’s hit “Express Yourself.”

    And I don’t buy that ‘imitation is the greatest form of flattery’ thing, either.

    • lucy2 says:

      Yeah I think Madonna really did have a case with Express Yourself and Born This Way. They sound so much alike, you can pretty much sing one over top of the other and it works.

      The other one that always bugged me was that Katy Perry song that sounded exactly like Sara Bareille’s Brave.

      This one though…I mean, I hear the notes they’re talking about, but I don’t feel like they’re similar enough to have much of a case here? I’m not a musician, but all the other recent lawsuits were a lot more obvious to me than this one.

    • Ripley says:

      Ha! Totally. Nine years ago I posted this:

      “I hear “Don’t Turn Around” every time “Alejandro” Ale, Ale-jandro comes on. Ace of Base should sue.”

  8. Emilia says:

    That Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lawsuit set the precedent and we’re going to see a ton of these kind of lawsuits pop up (warranted or not) now that big money is on the table.

  9. Samantha says:

    This movie was so over-promoted with Bradley & Gaga forced down our throats with the PR-fabricated nonsense about their ‘romance & chemistry’. I couldn’t convince myself to go and watch the film. I wonder if you get to keep your Oscar if you’re found guilty of plagiarism. Anyway, Gaga looks terrible with the Trump tan and white hair. Real trashy.

  10. Crox says:

    The part of this song that is similar to Shallow is also imo similar to Dust in the wind by Kansas. And out of the three only Ditw is a memorable song.

    My point is that it’s similar, but also very generic, to the point that I’m willing to believe not only that Gaga never heard his song, but also that there are at least 10 more similar songs out there. Since it’s only a part, not the whole song.

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s how I felt listening too it. Yes there are similarities, but it because it’s fairly common.

      • Bella Bella says:

        Ditto that. It’s 3 notes in a certain order. That’s going to happen. More than once. Even many times!

  11. Megan says:

    It’s a 3 note sequential progression. It’s not original in the slightest and you could probably find it in about 1000 songs.

  12. Renee says:

    Yeah I’m not getting that she copied it. It could sound similar but so could thousands of other songs. This one is a reach for me.

  13. Alice says:

    His song reminds me of Semisonic, but I can see the point. However if he is arguing only the 3 note progression, it isn’t valid, if he is arguing more the feel of the song, rhythm etc., then I see his point, however as someone above said, it’s pop, it all can sound similar.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      ” he is arguing more the feel of the song, rhythm etc.”

      The thing to remember is copyright applies to lyrics and melody ONLY. You can’t copyright a chord progression or production style.

      I don’t think juries should decide these things, because not everyone’s ears are trained to understand the differences. With Katy Perry’s song, if you wrote it out on musical charts, I don’t think Dark Horse and the other song would look the same, however, they had the similar PRODUCTION, and I think the jury was led astray by that.

      I think sound engineers should decide these cases in arbitration, but that’s fantasy. 😉

  14. Div says:

    It’s a very common chord progression used in a million songs. A lot of music critics are ripping this guy and the idea that Gaga somehow heard a guy who had less than 300 views before he accused her-he didn’t even come up with a believable story like he sent a song to Mark or Gaga. The only ones dragging her are some people who dislike her to the point they aren’t objective, or ones who don’t know much about music.

    And this is from someone who likes Gaga but thinks Born This Way is a rip off of Express Yourself. The problem is there are only so many chords, etc and the Blurred Lines lawsuit and the Katy one opened the door for this…there are going to be so many baseless lawsuits nowadays.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I agree, this is a very common chord progression. It is like suing another painter because he also uses yellow in his paintings.

  15. Harryg says:

    No I don’t believe she copied “Almost.”
    “Almost” sounds like many other songs. It’s like those awful songs played at Burlington Coat Factory, they are all so weirdly familiar but you can’t quite figure out why exactly. Also,
    “Almost” has a really bad video! And why did I start thinking “Friends” when I heard it?

  16. DS9 says:

    This song sounds like something played in a coffee house on an episode of Party of Five. Very generic.

    Add some steel guitar and you get Rascal Flatts

  17. paranormalgirl says:

    One of my friends is a musician and he weighed in by saying “come on, it’s a progression. It’s actually a fairly popular progression because of the tone it sets. Hope this guy doesn’t come for me because I’ve used it in at least three songs dating back to 1996 and I probably lifted it from somewhere back then because it sounded cool, probably from some hymn or something.”