Will Lana Del Rey become a victim of Greek unrest?
THERE BE TALK into the town that the sales and headline sensation of the year so far – Ms Lana Del Rey – will walk away from the music business after finding herself stuck in a media hate moment she can’t get out of. The thinking is that Del Rey will multiplatform herself; she’s already got a handbag out and next up will be the fashion line. Followed by Eau de Video Games, no doubt.
We already know that the self-styled “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” isn’t the indie outsider she was portrayed as on her arrival last year. It turns out her father is so rich he owns the entire world (and half the solar system) and that far, from being authentic, Del Rey is actually made of jelly.
The latest tsunami of spite and bile from the indie Talibanista (who felt ever so betrayed to discover that Lana Del Rey was in fact a pop starlet called Lizzy Grant) came in the wake of a dodgy live appearance on Saturday Night Live, after which we heard she had been put into a straitjacket and carted off to rehab, thus having to cancel her sold-out tour. At the same time, coincidentally, she was supposed to be at a Learn-howTo-sing-live-properly boot camp.
Now that she is nicely softened up, the latest round of Del Reybaiting is to accuse her of not writing her own songs. Any wonder she feels more comfortable at kissy-huggy Mulberry fashion events than engaging with the preposterous, sad losers who make up the online indie commentariat.
But there’s one thing Del Rey can’t escape from, and it’s the hoary old inevitable saying that where there’s a hit, there’s a writ. Video Games has been one of the biggest-selling singles of the year, but before we proceed, you will have to now turn to your local, friendly social video uploading site and type in “Eleni Vitali vs Lana Del Rey”.
The Eleni Vitali (a well-known Greek singer) song, Dromoi Pou Agapisa, which is from 1991, has some similarities to Video Games. There is no word yet from the Greek camp if they want to take this further but, unfortunately for Del Rey, the legal dice are all loaded against her here.
If we go back a few years, recall that Coldplay’s massive selling Viva La Vida single shared “musical similarities” with a previously released song, If I Could Fly, by the guitar hero Joe Satriani. This was all settled out of court by the two parties, with Coldplay saying of the incident: “If there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental – and just as surprising to us as to Joe Satriani.”
But how it works out legally (and which is why Coldplay allegedly had to settle out of court with Satriani) is that even if your song unintentionally sounds like a previously released song, you’re liable. In their defence, neither Coldplay nor anybody else possibly listen to every piece of music ever recorded before releasing a new song in case of accidental similarities.
This all goes back to the famous George Harrison/ My Sweet Lord case from the 1970s. The song did sound a bit like a previous hit by The Chiffons called He’s So Fine, but even though it was found that Harrison was guilty only of “unintentionally copying” parts of He’s So Fine, he still had to hand over £1.6 million (a fortune at the time) to The Chiffons.
If the Dromoi Pou Agapisa/video Games incident develops, there is one legal escape route. Del Rey could use the “access” argument, meaning that as the Greek song wasn’t a hit outside Greece and isn’t really known internationally, it would have been impossible for her to copy something that she’d never heard in the first place. This argument couldn’t be used by Harrison or Coldplay, as both The Chiffons and Satriani were/are big-selling artists and their music was/is widely enough played.
Either way, though, it’s more kindle for the Del Rey bonfire of hate. One can only wish the 26-year-old – who has committed the cardinal indie sin of becoming hugely successful – all the best.
Eleni Vitali’s Dromoi Pou Agapisa