September 10, 2018 Musicology, Opinion 1 Comment

I’ll keep this one brief. Because there’s nothing to get into here.

And I’m gonna predict that Miley Cyrus, Mike WiLL Made-It and Wiz Khalifa will swat this one aside in short order. Still, it’s interesting. It’s interesting that someone filed the complaint. This is the sort of thing where Musicologize might employ a Politifct Truth-O-Meter-like graphic that might range from “Way Jacked” for actual infringement to, well, “Pants On Fire” for more of a shot-in-the-dark lottery ticket type of complaint.

As you might expect, and as is more often than not the case, here I think I’d need the flames.

“Yella the Triple Threat’s” complaint that the successful big hit song “23” (in which Miley indeed seems to enjoy J’s on her feet) infringes upon her 2012 track “J’s On My Feet” likely has very little chance of getting out of the early rounds. And the only reason I’m even writing it up here is that I’m baffled as to how things got even this far.

I’m on a plane for six hours so what the heck, here’s the plaintiff’s track, “J’s On My Feet.”

Then, like it or not, here’s “23.”

So, you guessed it, yeah, they both say “J’s On My Feet.”

Here’s the strongest case I can imagine.

  • “J’s On My Feet” says “J’s On My Feet,” and so does “23.”
  • Rhythmically although the line comes in on a different beat, the internal rhythm of the phrase is common to both. It’s quarter note, two eighth-notes, and quarter note, kinda like musical morse code, “dash dot dot dash.”

Here’s the problem.

  • The complainers don’t own the phrase “J’s On My Feet.” Referring to Air Jordan’s as “J’s” is not a new original idea in 2012 when they published this track. It’s been said for a couple of decades by then. And where are J’s gonna go besides “on your feet?” On your head? I suppose someone could write “J’s On My Floor,” or “J’s Still In Their Box?” But “on your feet” is kinda the only prepositional phrase that anyone follows “J’s” with. No?
  • The melody.
  • The accompaniment.
  • Again, the rhythm is only partly similar. Yella’s coming in on beat one; Miley comes in on beat two.

So we’ve got a common phrase that the plaintiffs didn’t invent. There’s no melody really — it’s parlando or whatever dumbass thing a musicologist like me might say. The accompaniment isn’t at issue. There are no production elements involved. It’s just that phrase, one of a zillion hacky lines in this thing. She’s also “in the club,” “naughty by nature” “drinking out the bottle,” “waving em side to side,” and “dancin’ the night away.”

Maybe there’s a string of suits in line behind this one?



Written by Brian McBrearty