In the Throwback Thursday post featuring Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes,” I mention white artists that get too much praise for making passable imitations of black art. Ed Sheeran, though classified as pop on his Wikipedia page, is very much one of those white artists in question.
In fact, Ed Sheeran doesn’t just imitate style and cadence, he swagger-jacks with impunity. His 2014 hit, “Thinking Out Loud,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Song of the Year, is a flagrant rip-off of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” (written by Gaye and Ed Townsend). But before we go any further, please listen for yourself:
Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get It On”
And not a single credit to Gaye or Townsend in sight. Where they do that at?
In 2016, Ed Sheeran — along with the co-writers and producer of the song — was sued by the family of Ed Townsend. In the time since that suit, the heirs of Townsend sold their stake in the publishing royalties (which is said to be a third) to Structured Asset Sales, a company that appears to specialize in royalties-based investments. After the sale, the company tried to be included as a plaintiff in the first suit, but was denied by the courts, so it is now filing a separate suit for $100 million. The Hollywood Reporter has all the messy details.
As it stands, Ed Sheeran still hasn’t been sued by the Gaye estate, which owns two-thirds of “Let’s Get It On” and was awarded over $5 million in a plagiarism suit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams (for “Blurred Lines”). The estate will also receive 50% of that song’s future royalties.
Wanna know who else might have a solid case against Ed Sheeran? Tracy Chapman. For what song, you ask? Every song he has ever made because it all sounds like Tracy Chapman.