If you can measure a pop song’s success by the number of accusations of plagiarism, theft, and copyright violation it brings down on its creators’ heads in a post-“Blurred Lines” era, then Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” is doing pretty well for itself. (It’s not doing too bad on metrics like Grammy nominations, streams, or Billboard rankings, either, actually.) Even ignoring the obvious inspiration that the Thank U, Next track lifts from Rodgers and Hammerstein—whose “My Favorite Things” donates a hefty and obvious portion of its melody—the song has been accused by at least three different artists of ripping off their stuff since its release last year, including high-profile rappers Soulja Boy and 2 Chainz. And while that beef has reportedly now been quashed, a new artist has entered the arena in order to bring a copyright violation suit against Grande, her labels, and her producer on the song.
Specifically, Variety reports that rapper Josh Stone is accusing “7 Rings” producer Tommy Brown of having heard his song “You Need It, I Got It” back in 2017, and then used its chorus as the basis for the pounding, slightly hypnotic “I want it, I got it” that serves as a recurring element in Grande’s song. The suit in question cites the massive amounts of money “7 Rings” has brought in—stated to have been something on the order of $10 million—and invokes the work of two forensic musicologists, with claims that “Literally, every single one of the 39 respective notes of ‘7 Rings’ is identical with the 39 notes of ‘I Got It’ from a metrical placement perspective.” (As the suit then helpfully adds, that means they sound a lot alike.)
Of course, the nice thing about suits like this is that it’s easy for the layperson to just literally cue up both songs and listen to them back to back (even if that might not be quite as official as diving deep into the world of forensic musicology). In this case, the Stone song definitely has a couple of moments where you might find yourself thinking, “Oh, that sounds a bit like that one bit of an Ariana Grande song.” But at the same time, it’s not exactly the most complicated beat in the world that’s being discussed here, either. (Apologies, again, to all the fans of the metrical placement perspective in our audience.) As such, it’ll be interesting to see whether a court even lets this thing in the door, and if so, how much patience a judge will have with Stone’s efforts to prove Brown even heard his track in the first place, let alone attempting to prove he ripped it off.