When the song "Shallow" came out, Lady Gaga was basically hailed as a hero. The breakout song from A Star Is Born became an anthem for people everywhere, and the assumed originality of it was incredible. The song was so good that it won an Academy Award, and it really catapulted Gaga's career from pop-star to certified songwriter and actress.
However, it turns out the song may not be as original as we all thought. Steve Ronsen, a songwriter, is now claiming that one of the chord progressions from the melody of "Shallow" is actually from a song he released in 2012 called "Almost." Ronsen is so sure of the plagiarism, he's even threatening to sue Gaga.
“It was brought to my attention by many people that the ‘Shallow’ song sounds like mine," Ronsen said in a statement to ET. "I did not seek this out, I haven’t even seen the movie (I heard it’s pretty good). I admire Lady Gaga and I just want to get to the bottom of this. There are other writers that wrote the ‘Shallow’ song, including Mark Ronson. I have secured a musicologist who also agrees that the songs are similar. I am simply going about this how anyone else would investigate any possible infringement.”
Gaga's legal camp isn't having any of the allegations though, saying these claims are 'shameful.'
“Mr. Ronsen and his lawyer are trying to make easy money off the back of a successful artist. It is shameful and wrong,” Gaga's lawyer, Orin Snyder, told ET. “I applaud Lady Gaga for having the courage and integrity to stand up on behalf of successful artists who find themselves on the receiving end of opportunistic claims such as this. Should Mr. Shirian proceed with the case, Lady Gaga will fight it vigorously and will prevail.”
Ronsen's lawyer, Mark D. Shirian, released a statement saying there were similarities between "Almost" and "Shallow."
“In an effort to amicably resolve this matter months ago, my office provided Lady Gaga’s legal team, at their request, with an official report from a renowned and respected musicologist and professor who determined that there are significant tempo, melodic, rhythmic and harmonic similarities between the two ‘hooks’ of the songs at issue," Shirian said. "Lady Gaga’s team has yet to provide my office with an opposing musicologist report, which we have requested multiple times.”
Snyder refuted that claim, saying different musicologists disagreed with Ronsen's.
“We provided Mr. Shirian a lengthy letter with the findings of multiple leading musicologists, each of whom found no actionable similarities between the two songs. Even Shirian’s own musicologist acknowledged the generic three note progression is present in many other songs predating his client’s song.”
It's an interesting case, especially considering how popular the song was. It's won an Oscar, Golden Globe, Critic's Choice Award, two Grammys, a BAFTA, and more, and it's the most awarded song in the history of music. This could seriously factor in to any possible court case awards to Ronsen, if it's determined that "Shallow" was pulled from him.
The timing is also interesting, because Katy Perry just went through a very similar case and lost. It was determined that her hit single "Dark Horse" from 2013 copied a Christian rap song "Joyful Noise" by Marcus Gray. A jury decided that Perry's song did in fact infringe on Gray's, and the total owed will be $2.73 million for copyright infringement. Perry will have to pay $550,000 of that herself, and the rest will be covered by Captiol Records.
If Perry owes almost $3 million for a song that wasn't nearly as successful as "Shallow," what could happen to Gaga if Ronsen wins his case.