- After Lizzo’s 2017 song “Truth Hurts” became a hit, one woman accused the singer of stealing an infamous line in the song from a viral tweet she posted.
- Though she initially denied stealing from the tweet, Lizzo has now agreed to credit the woman and explained that she was inspired by a meme that was created based on the tweet.
- However, Lizzo is fighting back against another accusation of plagiarism in a lawsuit against a group of men who she says are falsely claiming to have contributed to the chart-topping song.
- The case has sparked conversations about the line between inspiration and plagiarism, as well as questions about what amount of that inspiration or presence warrants songwriter credit.
Who Wrote Truth Hurts?
Lizzo has addressed accusations of plagiarism over her hit song “Truth Hurts,” agreeing to credit a British singer whose tweet inspired the song’s opening line but refusing to credit other men who claim to have also contributed to the record.
All of the drama surrounding the song stems from arguably one of its most infamous lines: “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch.”
“Truth Hurts” was released in 2017, but the song picked up widespread success earlier this year after it was featured in Netflix’s Someone Great. It has sat on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, and if that success carries through one more, it could possibly break the record for the longest-running No. 1 rap song ever by a female artist.
Songwriting disputes are not uncommon in the music industry, as seen in high-profile copyright cases involving Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.”But the dispute over “Truth Hurts” is somewhat unusual for two reasons: First, it has sparked a huge debate over the origins of “DNA test” lyric, which has launched conversations about the line between inspiration and plagiarism in cases like these. And second, “Truth Hurts” faces claims that it borrowed from an unreleased song.
Mina Lioness Demands Credit
British performer Mina Lioness has claimed she is the original creator of the line, which she tweeted out on February 24, 2017, about seven months before the song was released.
Lizzo initially denied Mina was the source of the song’s inspiration, saying, “I’ve never seen this before in my life.” In response to accusations of stealing, Lizzo said, “That’s crazy.”
“But u know, there’s 10 BILLION ppl on the planet. The odds of multiple people having the same idea are VERY high,” she continued. “The odds of multiple ppl putting it in song w/ millions of streams are low tho. Nothin new under the sun.”
Mina Lioness was of course frustrated by that response and took to social media to hit back at Lizzo and her team.
“What I cannot get over is how brazen Lizzo and her team have been in ignoring my whole presence,” she tweeted.
“They’re doing it because they know I have no capital to address her,” she added. “I’m just the poor Black girl from London that don’t have a dog in the fight.”
Raisen Brothers Also Demand Credit
Accusations of stealing didn’t end there. Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, known as the Raisen brothers, and another songwriter, Justin “Yves” Rothman, have also been fighting for credit on the song.
As explained in a New York Times article on the matter last week, the brothers argue that the same line, “I just took a DNA test / Turns out I’m 100% that bitch,” was actually used in an unreleased track called “Health” from an April 2017 studio session with Lizzo and other songwriters.
Last week, Justin Raisen posted a video to Instagram with music from “Truth Hurts” overlaid with the unreleased song.
The caption read: “We were never contacted about being credited for the use of the parts of ‘Healthy’ (melody, lyrics, and chords) that appear in ‘Truth Hurts.’ After reaching out to [co-writer/producer] Ricky Reed and Lizzo’s team about fixing it, we put the song in dispute in 2017, when it came out. We’ve tried to sort this out quietly for the last two years, only asking for 5% each but were shut down every time.”
While the video does not seem to provide evidence that the Raisens and Rothman actually contributed to the writing of the line, Justin Raisen told the Washington Post that the melody “was written over the beat that we came up with.”
Lizzo Gives Credit and Files Lawsuit
Lizzo addressed all the accusations of stealing on social media Wednesday, writing, “As I’ve shared before, in 2017, while working on a demo, I saw a meme that resonated with me, a meme that made me feel like 100% that bitch.”
“I sang that line in the demo, and I later used the line in Truth Hurts. The men who now claim a piece of Truth Hurts did not help me write any part of that song. They had nothing to do with the line or how I chose to sing it,” she continued.
“There was no one in the room when I wrote Truth Hurts, except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears.”
“I later learned that a tweet inspired the meme. The creator of the tweet is the person I am sharing my success with…not these men. Period.”
Minutes later, Mina Lioness seemed to confirm Lizzo’s comment, tweeting, “I just took a DNA Test, turns out I’m a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard.”
“I want to publicly thank @Lizzo and her entire management team for embracing me and reaching out,” she added.
Lizzo also hit back against the Raisen brothers with a lawsuit, first reported by Variety Wednesday. In it, she is asking a judge to reject the men’s claim of ownership or contribution. The suit claims the brothers “embarked on an escalating campaign of harassment against Lizzo” and others involved with the song’s creation, threating to go public if they did not receive compensation for their share of the work.
Lizzo’s attorney told Variety, “They did not help write any of the material that they now seek to profit from, which is why they expressly renounced any claim to the work, in writing, months ago, as the lawsuit makes abundantly clear.”
Raisen Brother’s Respond
After Lizzo’s social media response, the Raisen brothers spoke with the Los Angeles Times expressing their disappointment with her statement. They specifically took issue with her referring to “Healthy” as a demo and refusing to mention them by name,
“It’s not in line with what she stands for and preaches for and is preaching about,” Justin Raisen told the Times. “We’ve said nothing but nice things about her, and now to find out that she’s actually pointing her finger at us — these quote-unquote ‘men’ — is extremely saddening, and it’s painful … because people don’t do this to other people. It’s just not fair. I’ve never dealt with anything like this in the music industry.”
In a second interview with the paper, which took place after news of the lawsuit was made public, Justin Raisen called the move “a complete abuse of power and really, really bad for the music community.” He added that the situation has made him consider leaving the music industry altogether.
“We’ll go to court. We’ll win. We’ll take a lot more money — not that that’s what I want; I just want the right thing to be done,” he said. “And then I’ll take [Lizzo] to court because I’ve almost been checked into a psychiatric recovery center twice because of all of this damage and psychological stress I’ve been through.”
Meanwhile, Jeremiah Raisen said he was the person to persuaded Lizzo to use the infamous line in a song, and the brothers together claimed they made several attempts to settle the issue in private.
For now, it seems like it will be up to the court to decide who deserves credit for the megahit. But the case has reignited conversations about what exactly constitutes songwriting and what amount of collaboration, inspiration, or presence, warrants credit.
2020 Grammys: Billie Eilish Wins Big, Tyler the Creators Slams “Urban” Categories, and Other Major Moments
- The 2020 Grammy Awards took place last night, with Billie Eilish breaking records after sweeping in all four major categories.
- Guests and viewers also mourned the loss of recently deceased LA legends Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant with special tributes during the show.
- While dealing with backlash over corruption accusations from its former president, the Recording Academy also faced criticism from Tyler the Creator and Diddy who slammed its treatment and categorization of black artists.
Billie Eilish Wins Big
The biggest names in music gathered for 62nd annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, which proved to be a tough and emotional event mixed with celebration and mourning.
The stand out winner of this year’s show was Billie Eilish, who took home awards in all four major categories: Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year.
Thanks to the success of her debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and her smash hit “Bad Guy,” the 18-year-old has made history as the second artist to sweep in the top four categories, after Christopher Cross in 1981. She is also the youngest person and first woman to ever do so.
On top of that, Eilish is now the youngest person to ever win in the Album of the Year category, beating out Taylor Swift, and the youngest to take home Record of the Year, a spot previously held by Sam Smith and Kimbra.
Aside from the four major wins, the singer also won a 5th award for Best Pop Vocal Album.
Mourning Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant
The Grammys also took a moment to celebrate the later rapper Nipsey Hussle with a star-studded tribute performance just hours after honoring him with his first Grammy posthumously.
The performance, which included the likes of John Legend, YG, DJ Khaled, and others, concluded with an image of Hussle alongside Kobe Bryant, the 41-year-old basketball legend who passed away just hours before the show.
Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning– news that stunned family, friends, and fans across the country.
The two were on their way to a youth basketball game with Orange Coast College baseball coaching legend John Altobelli, his wife Keri, their daughter Alyssa, mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester, assistant coach Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan, who all died in the tragic accident.
Bryant’s shocking death was also addressed at the show’s opening by host Alicia Keys who said, “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now.”
“Earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
After her opening remarks, Keys began a line from the Boys II Men song “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” and was joined by the ban itself moments later.
Recording Academy Scandal and Tyler the Creator on Diversity Issues
Though grief seemed to overshadow much of the night, the award show also had to deal with ongoing scandals and criticisms.
Dugan was ousted earlier this month, and since then, accusations of harassment, corruption, and conflict of interests have been thrown each way. Dugan recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the Academy of retaliation, sexual misconduct, improper voting practices, and more. Meanwhile, the Academy accused Dugan of creating a “toxic and intolerable” work environment and engaged in “abusive and bullying conduct.”
But concern over insider Recording Academy practices also made headlines when Tyler the Creator seemed conflicted after earning his first-ever Grammy for Best Rap Album. Following a gracious acceptance speech, Tyler spoke to reporters backstage about the Recording Academy’s voting process.
While he said he was “very grateful” to have his work acknowledged, he called the categorization of his music as rap a “backhanded compliment.”
“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me,” he said.
Sean “Diddy” Combs showed similar concerns at Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy gala on Saturday, saying the Recording Academy has never respected black artists.
“Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be. So, right now, in this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on and it’s not just going on in music. It’s going on in film. It’s going on in sports, It’s going on around the world,” he said.
He went to say that it was silly to allow “institutions that have never had our best interest at heart, to judge us.”
“We need transparency. We need diversity. This is the room that has the power to make the change. It needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us,” he continued.
Tyler’s comments come just as the Recording Academy announced new diversity initiatives to “ensure that the Academy — and the music business — is truly representative of artists and their audiences.”
Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer Harvey Mason Jr. said in his message to Academy members Sunday morning: “The music we create has always reflected the best of ourselves and our world. But what was true of music has historically not been true of the music business as a whole.”
“Too often, our industry and Academy have alienated some of our own artists — in particular, through a lack of diversity that, in many cases, results in a culture that leans towards exclusion rather than inclusion,” he added.
Megyn Kelly Accuses NBCUniversal of Double Standard After Robert Downey Jr. Defends Acting in Blackface
- In an interview with Joe Rogan, Robert Downey Jr. defended his decision to act wearing blackface in the film Tropic Thunder, arguing that it was satire.
- Former talk show host Megyn Kelly responded in a tweet, suggesting that NBC Universal gave him a free pass while she was “canceled” by the company for comments previously made defending blackface.
- Some Twitter users criticized Kelly, pointing out that the movie was a parody while her comments were serious, while, others agreed that she was treated unfairly.
Robert Downey Jr. Interview
Former news anchor Megyn Kelly accused NBC Universal of practicing a double standard regarding discussions of blackface after Robert Downey Jr. defended his decision to play a character who wears blackface in the movie Tropic Thunder.
The 2008 satirical action-comedy centered around four actors who were filming a Vietnam war movie. In the film, Downey plays Kirk Lazarus, a method actor who got “pigmentation alteration” surgery to darken his skin so he could play a black character for the movie.
While the character drew some criticisms, the film was still quite well-received by critics, many of whom felt the movie was a satire of Hollywood and that Downey’s character fit that narrative. Downey was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, as well as other awards for the role.
The topic was recently rehashed again when podcast host Joe Rogan asked Downey Jr. if he believed Tropic Thunder could be made today. Downey said that he initially thought the role was “a terrible idea.”
“And then I thought, ‘Well hold on dude, get real here, where is your heart?’” he continued. “And my heart is, a) I get to, I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me. The other thing is I get to hold up to nature the insane, self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion. Just my opinion.”
Downey Jr. went on to praise Ben Stiller, who co-wrote, directed, and acted in the movie.
“He knew exactly what the vision for this was,” he said. “He executed it. It was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie. And 90% of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’”
When asked about the other 10% Downey Jr. admitted that he couldn’t disagree with them.
“But I know where my heart was,” he explained. “And I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that is out of place and not of its time, but to me, it was just putting a, it was a blasting cap on.”
Rogan then circled back to the question of whether or not the movie could be made today.
“There’s a morality clause here on this planet, and it’s a big price to pay,” Downey Jr. said. “And I think having a moral psychology is job one, so sometimes you just got to go, ‘Yeah I effed up.’ Again, not in my defense, but ‘Tropic Thunder’ was about how wrong that is, so I take exception.”
Megyn Kelly Responds
After the clip went viral, many people took to Twitter to respond. Some criticized Downey, saying that blackface is never acceptable, while others agreed with the actor that the film was meant to satirize those who actually do blackface.
Kelly, however, had a different take altogether. In October 2018, Kelly drummed up controversy after comments she made on her NBC talk show about wearing blackface on Halloween.
“But what is racist?” she asked in the segment. “Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Kelly publicly apologized for the comments on her show the next day. But three days after making those remarks, NBC canceled her show, and her contract with them was terminated in January 2019.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Kelly went after NBC Universal, which produced Tropic Thunder, accusing them of a double standard.
Response to Kelly
Twitter users responded to Kelly’s post with the expected mixed reactions.
Some argued that the movie was a satire and that Downey was just an actor playing a role, while Kelly was a journalist speaking as herself on her own talk show.
Robert Downey Jr. parodied racists who choose blackface in “Tropic Thunder”. Your personal and career failings are of your own making and can’t be attributed to a racist character you were playing (that’s Alex Jones’ weak defense).https://t.co/yK5Sae0G96— the inverted pilcrow. ¶ (@dlnodots) January 23, 2020
Robert Downey Jr – satire. Megyn Kelly – racism. Big difference, which you obviously still cannot get over. You must be missing that paycheck. Oh and we haven’t forgotten about your white Santa BS too.— Suzie O’Shea (@oshea_suzie) January 23, 2020
Did you see Tropic Thunder? His character was a parody of an idiotic, egomaniacal actor who thought he was making some kind of deep point. In other words, his character was a parody of people like you.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) January 23, 2020
On the other side, some people agreed with Kelly, arguing that she was right and it was and that she was treated unfairly.
Complete double standard. They didn’t treat you right.— Eric Coleman (@EricSColeman) January 23, 2020
NBCUniversal did you dirty. The way you were treated was absolutely disgraceful. Excited to see what you do next.— Tyler Cardon (@TyCardon) January 23, 2020
You got a raw deal there. It has nothing to do with “blackface”. They used it as an excuse.— gypsy_sol77 (@GypsySol77) January 23, 2020
See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (Fox News) (Vanity Fair)
Netflix Numbers to Boost After Changing Its Definition of Views
- In its fourth-quarter report, Netflix announced that it is changing its viewing measures. Now, instead of a view counting as 70% of a title being watched, a view will mean as little as two minutes were watched.
- This comes as Netflix exceeded expected growth overseas but fell flat in the U.S. and Canada.
- The company said that the reason growth may have faltered in these regions could be related to the launches of services like Disney+ and Apple TV+.
Netflix Changes View Counts
Netflix will be changing the way it measures its views, a move that could increase counts by 35%.
In its fourth-quarter earnings letter to shareholders, the streaming giant said its current method of counting household views no longer makes sense given the content on the platform. Per its old method, the platform counted a view if an account watched “70% of a single episode of a series or of an entire film.”
Netflix, however, believes that this is no longer practical because the time lengths of its titles vary so drastically, with shows as short as 15 minutes and films over 130 minutes. Now, the service will count views based on “households (accounts) that chose to watch a given title.” They explain that if an account chose to watch a title for two minutes, this would count as a view. According to their report, those two minutes are “long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.”
They say the model is comparable to the way BBC iPlayer, the “Most Popular” section of the New York Times, and YouTube views are structured. Still, the change is dramatic. There is a significant time difference between watching two minutes of an episode of television or a feature-length film and watching 70% of that same piece of content. Netflix maintained that the change is necessary and noted the increase in views that will result from it.
“This way, short and long titles are treated equally, leveling the playing field for all types of our content including interactive content, which has no fixed length,” their letter said. “The new metric is about 35% higher on average than the prior metric.”
Netflix vs. New Streaming
This substantial change for Netflix carries even more weight with the ever-growing threat of the streaming wars, which was also noted in their shareholder letter. The platform exceeded expectations for growth overseas, however, they did not hit the mark in the United States and Canada.
In their fourth-quarter, they added 420,000 customers, despite projections anticipating them reaching 600,000. The letter says this is “probably due to our recent price changes and to US competitive launches.”
This quarter lined up with two major events when it comes to streaming: the launches of both Apple TV+ and Disney+. Compared to Apple TV+, Disney+ is seen as the larger competitor. 10 million people subscribed to the service within 24 hours of its debut. The service offered classics from the Disney vault and new content. Their Star Wars-based original series, The Mandalorian, proved to be a massive success because, as it turns out, not even God himself can compete with the magic of Baby Yoda.
While the numbers from Disney+ are not as clear yet, especially in a way to show a concrete comparison to Netflix, several studies to indicate The Mandalorian was popular to the masses. According to Parrot Analytics, in mid-November, the show was in higher demand than big Netflix hits like Stranger Things and The Crown.
In their report, though, Netflix seemed relatively unafraid of the presence of these platforms. The company was particularly proud of The Witcher, the Henry Cavill-led drama which hit screens on December 20. Their shareholder letter said the series was “tracking to be our biggest season one TV series ever.” Under their new viewer measurement method, it has hit 76 million member households in its first four weeks.
Netflix also compared The Witcher to its competitors via a Google Analytics chart showcasing the search amounts for several shows. Apple TV+’s The Morning Show and Amazon’s Jack Ryan consistently fell below the mark in comparison. The Mandalorian had a consistent amount of searches during its run, but close to The Witcher’s release date, it surges far ahead of it.
The graph, however, only represents worldwide searches. Disney+ is only available in a few countries, including the U.S. When taking a look at just searches in the U.S., The Witcher still leaps ahead after its premiere, but the overall differences are less extreme. The Mandalorian ends up being a much more regular and reliable search than The Witcher and came out with a slightly higher average.
Netflix acknowledged that these new shows and platforms do pose a threat in their report but ultimately took a strong position that they were at the top of the game.
“We have a big headstart in streaming and will work to build on that by focusing on the same thing we have focused on for the past 22 years – pleasing members,” the report said.