The downside to selling trillions of records in your first week is that people pay attention. A lot of people. And often these people will point out that certain parts of songs sound an awful lot like other songs, other previously-copyrighted works.
Soon this controversy gets back to the copyright holders, songwriters or whoever, who then decide how to proceed. This process can be stretched out in court for years, as we witnessed with the messy, grubby ‘Blurred Lines’ case, or it can be settled quietly with some sneaky credit reshuffling.
In the case of ‘Shape Of You’, Sheeran and his lawyers have opted for the latter, copping to the similarities between the monster hit and another monster hit from 1999, ‘No Scrubs’ by TLC.
The melody is strikingly similar (read: the same) and has resulted in the official publishing details for the song — which originally credited Sheeran and co-writers Johnny McDaid, and Steve Mac — being modified to include the writers of No Scrubs: Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle, and Kevin Briggs.
This is similar to an amendment made to the songwriting credits of another recent worldwide hit from a sensitive young British songwriter.