There are six songwriters credited for Ariana Grande's hit track "Side to Side," and Christopher R. O'Connor is suing to become the seventh. This musician has accused Universal Music Group of ripping off his work for this third single from Ariana's third studio album, Dangerous Woman.
Christopher tells TMZ he contacted UMG to report the alleged copyright infringement, and UMG told him to send in an audio file of the material in question, a track titled "J5 (T6)." (Catchy name!) He sent in his track, but UMG never responded to his accusation. Now he's suing the company, asking for royalties and a songwriting credit. He also tells the site UMG ripped off other tracks of his for songs by such artists as Mike Shinoda and Taylor Swift.
And this Texan dude has a ton to gain if "Side to Side" really is an infringement of his work. Bolstered by guest vocals by Nicki Minaj, the track has sold more than 4 million units, and it just earned the RIAA's Quadruple Platinum certification this month. (2015's "Problem" is the only track of Ariana's to perform better.)
But fans are unsure Christopher even has a case, to say the least. "I hear no resemblance at all except the fast beat, and a lot of songs have that," says one TMZ commenter. "Must be someone wanting their 15 minutes of fame again so they can ride that money train until it dwindles out." Another commenter concurs, saying Christopher created "a basic reggae beat." (Our absolute favorite comment, however, is this zinger: "Was this done on his Speak & Spell?")
Still, if Christopher's lawsuit is successful, it'll rank among the music world's most infamous copyright cases. For example, representatives for Queen and David Bowie sued Vanilla Ice in 1990, claiming Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" ripped off Queen and David's song "Under Pressure." After settling out of court, Ice paid an undisclosed sum, and both David and the members of Queen earned a songwriting credit.
More recently, the family of Marvin Gaye sued over Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," alleging it ripped off Marvin's "Got to Give It Up." A judge ordered Robin and co-writer Pharrell Williams to pay the Gaye family $5.3 million and give the Gaye family half of future royalties.
Well, we wish Christopher the best of luck in his suit. Judging by fans' snap judgments, he'll need it.