Sam Smith, Normani sued for copyright infringement over ‘Dancing with a Stranger’

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Three songwriters allege that Smith and Normani’s 2019 smash duet copied both a song and video concept created in 2015.

Sam Smith and Normani have been served a lawsuit over their hit duet, “Dancing with a Stranger.” The lawsuit claims that the singers’ 2019 quadruple-platinum hit song copied from a 2015 song also entitled “Dancing with a Stranger,” according to Rolling Stone.

Songwriters Jordan Vincent, Christopher Miranda, and Rosco Banlaoi filed the complaint in federal court in Los Angeles on March 4. The complaint alleges that Smith and Normani’s song not only lifts the title from their song, but also the chorus and compositional elements as well.

The three songwriters state their song was originally posted on Vincent’s YouTube channel on Aug. 30, 2017, as well as Spotify and other streaming services.

“The hook/chorus in both songs — the most significant part and artistic aspect of these works — contains the lyrics ‘dancing with a stranger’ being sung over a nearly identical melody and musical composition,” read the complaint.

In addition to the song itself, the complaint also states that even Smith and Normani’s music video for their song is very similar to Vincent, Miranda, and Banlaoi’s song.

“Both videos consist of a girl performing interpretive dance alone in a minimalist studio, interspersed with shots of the male vocalist,” the filing states. “A girl dancing alone is not an obvious visual theme for a music video titled ‘Dancing With a Stranger,’ tending to dispel any notion that this similarity is a coincidence.”

The song and video were played side-by-side in the complaint for comparison.

Smith and Normani are listed as co-writers of the 2019 Top 10 Billboard 100 smash, along with the song’s producers, Tor E. Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen of Stargate, and Jimmy Napes. The complaint states that all of them had access to the 2017 song, as well as Normani’s manager Brandon Silverstein and her mentor, Tim Blacksmith.

The plaintiffs state that their song and a music video call sheet was submitted to Thrive Records in 2015, in hopes of getting the song placed with another artist, but a deal never materialized.

The complaint alleges that the duo obtained the song and call sheet through Thrive Records or its agents, Rolling Stone reported.

Sam Smith
(Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, EMI Music Publishing are also listed among the defendants in the lawsuit. Vincent, Miranda, and Banlaoi are seeking “real and punitive damages” Rolling Stone reported.

Smith has dealt with similar issues in the past. His 2014 Grammy-winning hit, “Stay With Me,” bore striking resemblance to Tom Petty’s 1989 hit, “I Won’t Back Down.”

In 2015, Smith amicably settled with Petty, and “I Won’t Back Down” co-writer Jeff Lynne, agreeing to award them both songwriting credit and 25% of the song’s royalties.

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