Within moments of Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated new single release on Thursday night - a pop track titled ‘‘Look What You Made Me Do,’’ off her upcoming album ‘‘Reputation’’ - multiple people on Twitter had the same observation:
‘‘why does the chorus to the new Taylor Swift song sound like shes about to start singing I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred?’’ - Jacob J.
‘‘okay but taylor swift’s new song seriously sounds like that right said fred song. . ..’’ - Chantel Waugh
‘‘Taylor Swift’s cover of Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m too sexy’ def wasn’t what I was expecting for this era. - Andrew McDaniel
‘‘Is it just me or does Taylor Swift’s new song sound like I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred??’’ - Rachel Morgan
... and so on. And they are correct! As it happens, iTunes lists the songwriters as Swift; her longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff; and Richard Fairbrass, Fred Fairbrass and Rob Manzoli, all members of the British pop group Right Said Fred who wrote the 1991 hit ‘‘I’m Too Sexy.’’
Because the melody of the Swift chorus rings vaguely similar to ‘‘I’m Too Sexy,’’ it makes sense that the Fairbrass brothers and Manzoli get co-writing credits. It’s like how Ed Sheeran credited the writers of TLC’s ‘‘No Scrubs’’ when he released ‘‘Shape of You,’’ because there were similarities in the melodies, and how Sam Smith added Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to ‘‘Stay With Me’’ when it sounded like ‘‘I Won’t Back Down.’’
Singers these days have to be careful, particularly in the wake of the ‘‘Blurred Lines’’ lawsuit - in 2015, a jury decided that songwriters Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lifted from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit ‘‘Got to Give It Up’’ and awarded Gaye’s family $7.4 million.
Even if it means less money for the artists, many feel they’re better safe than sorry. Country star Thomas Rhett has a whopping 14 co-writers listed on his song ‘‘Vacation,’’ because he noted the likeness between his song and War’s ‘‘Low Rider.’’ So the War members were added.
‘‘When you look at somebody like Pharrell and Robin Thicke getting sued because of a drum pattern, it makes you scared to death to put something that remotely sounds like something,’’ Rhett explained. ‘‘So the best thing to do in these situations is just to go straight to the people that wrote that song and be like, ‘Hey we wanna make you co-writers on this song.’ ‘‘
Anyway, you may not have been expecting Swift and Right Said Fred’s ‘‘I’m Too Sexy’’ to be used in the same sentence when she released her new music - either way, on Thursday, the Fairbrass brothers seemed pretty psyched about the shout-out:
‘‘Thank you @taylorswift13 what a marvellous reinvention!’’ - Right Said Fred