An American R&B singer has accused Taylor Swift of stealing lyrics for “Shake It Off,” her massively popular No. 1 single from last year’s 1989. In a lawsuit containing the allegations and obtained by EW, Jessie Braham says that Swift and the song’s co-writers Max Martin and Shellback used a “22-word phrase” from his 2013 song “Haters Gone Hate” that “equal to 92 percent of the lyrics used” in “Shake It Off.”
Braham’s lawsuit adds that because the “song phrase string is used over 70+ times during the song, Swift “would not have written the song” without “Haters Gone Hate.” To rectify the alleged copyright breach, Braham requests $42 million in damages and a writing credit on “Shake It Off” moving forward.
Swift sings “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play. And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” and “the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake,” lines that the lawsuit suggests bear too much resemblance to Braham’s lyrics: “Haters gone hate, playas gone play. Watch out for them fakers, they’ll fake you everyday.”
In a New York Daily News story, Braham — referred to in the article by his stage name, Graham — says Swift is “definitely trolling” him and that he contacted her label, Big Machine, multiple times after hearing “Shake It Off” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Braham also has claimed that because he runs a church called New Day Worldwide, he “plans to file suit against CNN for the title of its morning show New Day.”
For reference, Swift’s “Shake It Off” isn’t the first chart-topper with that title — Mariah Carey released a popular single with the same name in 2005, and 3LW released a similarly worded song, “Playas Gon’ Play” in 2000.