Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire,” currently No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and featured prominently in a current American Express commercial, is now the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed last week in California federal court.
The plaintiff is Earl Shuman, an accomplished songwriter who in 1962 co-authored the composition, “Lonely Boy,” a song that reached No. 2 on Billboard’s chart in 1970 after being recorded by Eddie Holman as “Hey There Lonely Girl.”
Shuman believes there’s a similarity between Keys’ song and his “Lonely Boy/Girl.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “his lawsuit is rather bereft of important details, substituting an entertainment blogger’s ear in lieu of any demonstration of substantial similarity.
That’s not to say there won’t be people out there who won’t compare the two songs (here and here) and spot a likeness, particularly in the way that Keys intones three notes while singing the words “lonely girl.”
One of the people who noted a supposed similarity was Roger Friedman at Showbiz411, who wrote in late November of what he believed to be an uncredited sample. “In the middle of the song, Alicia sings a couplet or so from Eddie Holman’s 1970 classic ‘Hey There Lonely Girl,’” he wrote. “The song was written by Leon Carr and Earl Shuman, who are both gone to rock ‘n’ roll heaven.”