Sam Smith has agreed to give Tom Petty a songwriting credit on his hit “Stay With Me” after Petty’s publisher noted “certain similarities” between Smith’s song and “I Won’t Back Down.” This mashup of the two songs, which dropped on YouTube last July, has suddenly become very relevant again.
If you pitch Smith’s chorus up a little, pitch Petty’s down, and lay their vocals over one another on top of the “I Won’t Back Down” instrumental, it becomes pretty obvious why Smith didn’t put up much of a fight about sharing credit with Petty and cowriter Jeff Lynne. That’s just the same damn hook.
“Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of Stay With Me listened to I Won’t Back Down and acknowledged the similarity. Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement,” a spokesperson for Smith said.
The BBC reports it’s not clear whether Petty and Lynne will be able to collect royalties on the song, and the Recording Academy won’t add them to the credits as part of Smith’s song of the year Grammy nomination.
“Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for Stay With Me,” the Academy said in a statement.
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