When Ed Sheeran debuted his latest, chart-topping single “Shape of You,” in January many people were struck with a feeling that they had heard the melody somewhere before. Upon closer inspection, the realization dawned that the track’s chorus bared an uncanny resemblance to the TLC song “No Scrubs.” As the BBC pointed out, the resemblance was striking enough that Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle (aka Tiny Harris), and producer Kevin Briggs have now all been given co-writer credits for the track. Originally the single counted only Sheeran producer Steve Mac, and Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid as writers.
We’re glad to see that the situation has been remedied. Whether Sheeran used the melody without giving credit intentionally, this is nothing new in the world of pop music. Going back to the days of Led Zeppelin and some of their ’70s rock cohorts, who borrowed liberally from American blues musicians, there’s a long history of white artists taking elements from black musicians without proper accreditation.
The most recent high-profile example before this clarification was the case of Robin Thicke, who was taken to court by the estate of Marvin Gaye when they claimed that his song “Blurred Lines” infringed on the Motown singer’s hit “Got To Give It Up.” The jury ultimately sided with Gaye’s estate, awarding them $7.4 million in damages. Sheeran himself has also run afoul of the Gaye’s, and is currently being sued due to his song “Thinking Out Loud,” apparently sounding too similar to the singer’s 1973 hit “Lets Get It On.”
You can listen to both songs below and decided for yourself how closely “Shape of You” sounds to “No Scrubs.”