Will Lana Del Rey be­come a vic­tim of Greek un­rest?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

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

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