Sam Smith and Normani sued for alleged ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ copyright infringement

Sam Smith is facing accusations of copyright infringement — again.

A new lawsuit alleges that the “Stay With Me” singer and Fifth Harmony alum Normani plagiarized elements of Jordan Vincent’s 2017 song “Dancing With Strangers” for their 2019 duet, “Dancing With a Stranger,” Rolling Stone reported Saturday.

According to the music magazine, a complaint was filed Friday in federal court in Los Angeles on behalf of songwriters Vincent, Christopher Miranda, and Rosco Banlaoi, who allege that the two songs have the “same” chorus and composition.

“The hook/chorus in both songs — the most significant part and artistic aspect of these works — contains the lyrics ‘dancing with a stranger’ being sung over a nearly identical melody and musical composition,” the lawsuit reads, per Rolling Stone. In addition, the complaint cites a comparison of the songs’ music videos, which highlights similarities in their staging.

Sam Smith and Normani perform onstage during 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2019 Presented by Capital One at the Forum on December 6, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.Sam Smith and Normani perform onstage during 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2019 Presented by Capital One at the Forum on December 6, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Sam Smith and Normani perform onstage during 102.7 KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball 2019 Presented by Capital One at the Forum on December 6, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Sam Smith and Normani performing in 2019

“Both videos consist of a girl performing interpretive dance alone in a minimalist studio, interspersed with shots of the male vocalist,” the complaint reads. “A girl dancing alone is not an obvious visual theme for a music video titled ‘Dancing With a Stranger,’ tending to dispel any notion that this similarity is a coincidence. When the extraordinary musical similarity between the songs is also factored in, it becomes even more apparent that it is impossible that the infringing composition and sound recording were independently created.”

Representatives for Smith and Normani did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.

This lawsuit marks the second time Smith has faced high-profile allegations of copyright infringement. In 2015, news broke that Smith had settled a lawsuit with Tom Petty over melodic similarities between Smith’s 2014 hit “Stay With Me” and Petty’s 1989 song “I Won’t Back Down.” The arrangement gave Petty and “I Won’t Back Down” co-writer Jeff Lynne a percentage of the royalties from Smith’s song. The two were also given songwriting credits on the track.

The “Dancing With a Stranger” lawsuit also names Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, and EMI Music Publishing as defendants, and seeks real and punitive damages for the alleged infringement.

“Defendants were given every chance to come up with an innocent explanation, but, despite assurances that a response was coming including a musicological analysis and report, the defendants never issued a response,” the complaint reads. “This suit is being filed as a last resort.”

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