Miguel Gives Billy Corgan Songwriting Credit After ‘Subconscious’ Ripoff
Miguel made headlines in early July for claiming he “made better music” than Frank Ocean, and quickly snuffed the feud-flames by retracting his statement. Now he’s taken steps to avoid another music-related kerfuffle by crediting an artist whose guitar riffs he says he subconsciously misappropriated.
“The guitar riff just came to me in such a subconscious way, the song literally wrote itself in minutes… It was kind of reminiscent of ‘1979.’ I was a fan of them growing up, but I never bought their albums or saw them live,” Miguel said.
He went on to explain, “It’s weird how some things just sink in… Towards the end of the song when the drum programming kicks in, it’s even more reminiscent. You realize it in a more straight-on way. It’s cool they were cool about everything. It’s all about respect. We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants at this point.”
Miguel caught the similarity early on, and soon contacted Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins’ vocalist and writer of the 1996 hit, to vet the track. Corgan approved “Leaves,” and accepted a co-writing credit. Everybody wins!
This story comes as Complex reports that a judge has rejected Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s request for a “Blurred Lines” retrial, and ruled that T.I. should be held legally accountable as well. The artists had been ordered to pay Marvin Gaye’s family $7.4 million in copyright infringement fees for borrowing (liberally) from Gaye’s 1977 classic “Got To Give It Up.” That payout has since been trimmed down to a still-formidable $5.3 million.
Sam Smith also caught heat back in January for allegedly lifting elements of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” for his song “Stay With Me.” Smith’s legal team chose to comply with Petty’s request for a settlement and a songwriting credit. Smith was wise to avoid a costly trial, but each infringement accusation further complicates an ongoing creative debate: When does inspiration veer into straight-up copying?
Miguel’s comment that “we’re all standing on the shoulders of giants at this point” perfectly sums up the issue. In an age where seemingly everything has been done, every chord has been played and every song has been sampled, will it eventually grow impossible to hold every artist accountable for their influences? You contemplate that, and while you do, listen to the opening of One Direction’s “Steal My Girl” and then compare it to the piano intro to Journey’s “Faithfully” from 1983.
Was Miguel’s noble instinct correct? Listen to the two tracks below and let us know if you hear the sonic resemblance.