Taylor Swift says there’s no truth to a claim she stole lyrics for her 2014 hit “Shake It Off” from the 2000 3LW single “Playas Gon’ Play.”
According to Washington Post, Swift insists she “never heard” of the group until she was sued for plagiarism by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who penned the popular 3LW track.
Hall and Butler filed their copyright lawsuit in 2017, claiming Swift lifted her lyrics “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” The songwriters alleged instead of writing the words herself, Swift borrowed from their lines “Playas they gon’ play and haters they gonna hate.”
A judge dismissed the case in 2018, saying the lyrics were “too banal” to be copied, The Guardian reported. But in 2021, an appeals court disagreed and resurrected the claim.
Swift responded in a written declaration on Monday, Aug. 8, saying: “The lyrics to ‘Shake It Off’ were written entirely by me.”
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Swift added in her court filing: “Until learning about Plaintiffs’ claim in 2017, I had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW.”
3LW (short for 3 Little Women) was originally made up of Adrienne Bailon (The Real), Kiely Williams (The Cheetah Girls) and Naturi Naughton (Power). The R&B group was formed in 1999. Their self-titled debut album, 3LW, was certified platinum and produced a string of hits including “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)” and “Playas Gon’ Play,” which peaked at number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Swift, who was 10 when the 3LW song was released, said she never heard the single on the radio and wasn’t allowed to watch MTV’s music video show Total Request Live at the time the song was popular.
The singer added that the lyrics to “Shake It Off” were inspired by “unrelenting public scrutiny of my personal life, ‘clickbait’ reporting, public manipulation, and other forms of negative personal criticism.”
She insisted the lyrics came from commonly used phrases. “Prior to writing ‘Shake It Off’ I had heard the phrases ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate’ uttered countless times,” her filing said.
Swift’s attorneys said the plagiarism claim is “baseless” and the songwriters are “hoping for a windfall.” The Grammy-winning singer’s lawyers tried to get the case dismissed but were unsuccessful.
Hall and Butler said in a statement to The Guardian: “This is defendants’ fourth attempt to make these claims go away, so defendants’ labelling them as baseless rings hollow at this point.”