By Brian Ives
The Beygency may need to be alerted once more.
Perry, who used to front the short-lived rock band 4 Non Blondes and went on to write hits for Pink and Christina Aguilera, among others, was asked, “Linda, how do you feel about Beyoncé changing one word on a song and getting writing credit. Does that bother you as a songwriter?”
Perry’s response: “well hahaha um thats not songwriting but some of these artists believe if it wasnt for them your song would never get out there so they take a cut just because they are who they are. but everyone knows the real truth even Beyoncé. She is talented but in a completely different way.”
There’s been much speculation over the years as to what a Beyoncé songwriting credit actually means. On her 2011 album, 4, her opening track, “1+1” bore quite a bit of resemblance to the The-Dream‘s song “Nothing But Love,” but her name was added to the songwriting credits. Listen to both songs here.
Earlier than that, in 2010, Frank Ocean (before he was famous) echoed Perry’s later comments, tweeting, “It’s a bad trend that artists try to muscle for credits on songs they had no part in writing. Writers just say no UNLESS it’s Beyonce lol.” That tweet has, unsurprisingly, since been taken down.
Salon pointed out in a 2013 piece “Is Beyoncé a Plagiarist?” that Bey took a song called “Smack Into You” by a little-known songwriter named Jon McLaughlin and retitled it “Smash Into You,” on her 2008 album, I Am…Sasha Fierce, taking a co-writing credit for the song.
Other superstar singers — including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra — have had co-writing credits on songs, although it is generally believed that they did not actually co-write them. For instance, Elvis Presley is credited as a co-songwriter on “Don’t Be Cruel” along with Otis Blackwell, although Presley heard a completed Blackwell demo of the song when he decided to record it (despite the fact that the two had never met). But a songwriter stands to make a lot of money — and get a lot of exposure — by writing a song for an artist of that caliber, so sharing the credit (and also, the royalties) might seem like a fair compromise to a composer.
Of course, criticisms often make Bey stronger: after being blasted in the press for lip-synching the National Anthem at President Obama’s inauguration, she began a Super Bowl XLVII press conference by belting out a perfect version of the song. Perhaps she’ll use this opportunity to take fans (and critics) behind the closed door of her creative process to shine a light on what she actually does during the writing of a song.
So maybe the Beygency can stay home; Ms. Knowles seems fully capable of sticking up for herself.