April 27, 2023 Musicology 1 Comment

The Ed Sheeran “Thinking Out Loud” v “Let’s Get It On” trial is really about just a couple of things, a video of him segueing from “Thinking” to “Let’s” in concert, called a “smoking gun” and tantamount to “a confession” by Ben Crump, and the musicologically important part, the accompaniment that the plaintiff believes Sheeran could not have come up were it not for “Let’s.”

In another article, I explained that the trial in NYC is about just two things, the video’s impact on the jury and the similar elements shared by both works — just a repeating four-chord progression and the rhythm with which those chords.

Here, I’m interested in showing that the video is not a smoking gun or a confession. Sheeran might’ve played a lot of other familiar songs along with “Thinking,” and it wouldn’t mean he was influenced by or much less copied them.

So I sat down and mashed up a pile of other songs Ed might’ve segued to just as easily. Not quite the Axis Of Awesome (the video of which was actually played in the courtroom yesterday) but much the same point, except this is the relevant chord progression, the one mostly shared by “Let’s” and “Thinking.”

From Beatles and Belafonte to Morrison and Manilow, I’ve got twenty-four songs in here, and I could keep adding all day, but I don’t want to make anyone listen longer.

Understand, these will probably not be played in the courtroom for various reasons. The songs here range from “dead ringers” to “quite the same” to “massaged a little” to “shoehorned in there.” Don’t @ me because you know that the third chord in Easy by the Commodores is a ii chord and not a IV chord. These examples are relevant, illustrative of how music works, and reflect how music is created and enjoyed. It is very much the point.

Written by Brian McBrearty