Well, this is awkward. Mega-star Katy Perry is in some hot water over copyright issues, which is basically like wearing a big scarlet letter for musical artists. A court jury found Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" copied a Christian rap song called "Joyful Noise," according to a report by the Associated Press. Elite Daily reached out to Perry's team for comment on the report but did not hear back by the time of publication.
"Dark Horse" is a kickass song I like to run to on the treadmill. In 2013, Perry unleashed the banger on her Prism album, along with a cinematic music video for the ages. The hit earned Perry a Grammy nomination and spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, musician Marcus Gray, who performs under the stage name Flame, was busy filing lawsuits. According to the AP, Gray and two coauthors, Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit five years ago, claiming "Dark Horse" stole a "key 16-second music riff" from their song, "Joyful Noise." On Monday, July 29, a jury agreed. Now, Perry faces the prospect of having to pay a heavy penalty to Gray and his co-plaintiffs.
According to the report, Perry's attorney's argued that the riff in question is a commonplace series of notes, adding that Perry and her producer, Dr. Luke, had never heard "Joyful Noise" nor do they listen to Christian rap. The Associated Press reported that Christine Lepera, Perry's lawyer, told jurors, "They’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone." Lepera added that "Dark Horse" has an "unremarkable" beat, and stated it is the only element Perry's hit and "Joyful Noise" share. She called it a "commonplace expression."
To thicken the plot, Gray's attorney, Michael A. Kahn, reportedly pointed out that Perry began her music career as a Christian artist. "They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits," he reportedly said.
The AP notes that when Perry's legal team was having trouble playing her music for the jurors to listen to, she offered to "perform it live" during her testimony. Apparently, this lightened the mood momentarily. In reality, the jurors had the chance to listen to both songs in their entirety.
This is my totally unprofessional, non-legal, not-a-music-expert opinion: I don't know. Like Perry's attorney, I hear a similar beat, but also don't think "Dark Horse" is a clear knock off of "Joyful Noise." (Don't @ me. I'm doing my best here!)
What do you guys think?
Here is Gray's "Joyful Noise":
And Perry's "Dark Horse":
IDK, IDK, IDK. The whole thing stresses me out. I'm glad I wasn't on that jury. According to the AP, the jury found the six songwriters and four corporations that released and distributed "Dark Horse" as liable. Even Perry and Sarah Judson, who just wrote the song's words, and Juicy J, who wrote his own rap lyrics.
Perry was reportedly not present when the verdict was made, but chances are she won't be too thrilled about this development.