8 Artists Who Have Faced Songwriting Disputes: Lauryn Hill, Neil Young, And More
In the last week, transcripts have been released of Robin Thicke's legal questioning regarding his "Blurred Lines" copyright infringement lawsuit, in which he reveals that Pharrell actually wrote nearly every part of the divisive hit. Songwriting credits are a famously tricky issue in the music business, as these eight artists have proven:
1. Neil Young - "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown" (1975)
The songwriting credits for Neil Young's "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown" aren't disputed so much as they are inconsistent. The song first appeared on Crazy Horse's debut album, credited to both Neil Young and guitarist Danny Whitten, and was included as a live recording on Young's Tonight's the Night album with the same credits. When the song was used again on Young's Live at the Fillmore East album in 2006, however, the late Whitten was given sole songwriting credit.
2. The Sex Pistols - Nevermind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)
The firing of bassist Glen Matlock is often seen as a huge mistake for the Sex Pistols, as he's generally considered to be the band's primary composer. However, in a 2011 interview, guitarist Steve Jones claimed that Matlock receive too much credit as the band's songwriter, saying, "If he was such a great songwriter, where are the songs after the Sex Pistols?"
3. Ozzy Osbourne - Bark at the Moon (1983)
Ozzy Osbourne has never been known as a songwriter (he rarely writes his own lyrics), so it was pretty surprising to see all of the songs on his 1983 album Bark at the Moon credited solely to "Ozzy Osbourne." It was later revealed that Osbourne's guitarist Jack E. Lee and bassist Bob Daisley wrote the music and lyrics themselves, and were offered a buyout for their songwriting credits.
4. Paul Simon - "All Around The World or The Myth of Fingerprints" (1986)
On nearly half of the songs on his classic album Graceland, Paul Simon shared songwriting credit with the musicians who played with him. However, Simon has been accused of stealing the album's last track "All Around the World of the Myth of Fingerprints" from Chicano rock band Los Lobos, who played with him on the track.
5. Morrissey - Viva Hate (1988)
Though all of the songs on Morrissey's debut solo album Viva Hate are credited to Morrissey and producer Stephen Street, guitarist Vini Reilly has claimed that he was actually the one who wrote all of the album's music, which Street has vigorously denied.
6. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Following the release of her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill was sued by some of the musicians she collaborated with on the album, who claimed that they had contributed to songwriting and production but weren't given any credit for it.
7. Andrew W.K.
Andrew W.K. often seems like too much of a madman to have written songs as catchy and tightly constructed as "Party Hard" or "Ready to Die," and some have even gone so far as to suggest that he didn't write those songs. Many have suggested that a mysterious person named Steev Mike, who was credited as executive producer on Andrew W.K.'s first album I Get Wet, is the actual songwriter, though W.K. has claimed that "Steev Mike" is actually an old pseudonym.
8. The Hives
Though most of the musicians on this list have been accused of taking too much credit, the Hives have actually been accused of taking too little credit in their own songwriting. All of the Hives' original songs are credited to Randy Fitzsimmons, whom the band claims is their manager, though many believe that this is simply a pseudonym for guitarist Niklas Almqvist.