Sam Smith just lost his case for copyright infringement because he stole the tune from Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” But the controversy’s not over, because copyright infringement wasn’t the controversy in the first place. The real controversy is: Why is “Stay With Me” up for a Grammy at all?
Smith can sing, I guess, but the song shape is boring, and the production is mawkish. Jimmy Page, no stranger to lawsuits of this type, and recently sued by the band Spirit for supposedly ripping off the opening of “Stairway to Heaven,” defends himself in these cases by basically saying “My composition has a unique shape.”
Does this idea — a unique shape — even make sense to your average contemporary listener? Probably not, and that’s too bad….
Here’s a short YouTube video I found overlaying both songs for just the first few bars. Enough to show the similarities and the differences. What do you think?