Taylor Swift insists she wrote all the lyrics for ‘Shake it Off’.
She made the declaration as she as addressed a 2017 copyright lawsuit that claimed she stole the words of her 2014 hit.
Writing in a federal court document filed on Monday (08.08.22) she denied copyright infringement and claimed she had “never heard” the song she is accused of plagiarising – 2001’s ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ by the US pop trio 3LW.
Extracts of the motion obtained by Billboard said Taylor, 32, unequivocally rejected the accusation, writing “the lyrics to ‘Shake It Off’ were written entirely by me”.
She also provided context around how the words came to be included in the song.
Taylor insisted it was impossible she plagiarised the 3LW track as she “had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW”.
She added: “The first time I ever heard the song was after this claim was made.”
Taylor added: “In writing the lyrics, I drew partly on experiences in my life and, in particular, unrelenting public scrutiny of my personal life, ‘clickbait’ reporting, public manipulation, and other forms of negative personal criticism which I learned I just needed to shake off and focus on my music.”
She argued the phrases “players gonna play” and “haters gonna hate” were widespread and used throughout her childhood – “akin to… sayings like ‘don’t hate the playa, hate the game,’” and “‘take a chill pill’”.
Taylor went on: “I recall hearing phrases about players play and haters hate stated together by other children while attending school in Wyomissing Hills, and in high school in Hendersonvilled.”
She highlighted how there have been numerous uses of the phrase in “many songs, films, and other works,” and referenced a 2013 performance in which she wore a T-shirt with the term “haters gonna hate.”
The lawsuit, filed by ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, was dropped in 2018, but was later resurrected by an appeals panel the following year.
In December 2021 a judge ruled the case should be decided by a jury, although an official court trial date has not yet been set.
Taylor’s lawyers are backing her claims by arguing no single entity can monopolise a term widely used in popular culture.
Her attorney Peter Anderson said: “It is, unfortunately, not unusual for a hit song to be met by litigants hoping for a windfall based on tenuous claims that their own song was copied… but even against that background, (the) Plaintiffs’ claim sticks out as particularly baseless.”
‘Shake It Off’ was the lead single from Swift’s fifth studio album, ‘1989’. 3LW, meanwhile, released ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ in 2001 as part of the girl band’s eponymous debut album.
It comes as Taylor has also defended her use of a jet after she last month topped a celebrity league table of the biggest private plane polluters.