Yeah, I’d have no hit singles in the world if I was an ugly girl…

http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2005/04/14/

I thought about this when I first heard the cover song Gwen Stefani does of “Rich Girl” but no one seemed to know the answer.

If someone covers a song, most people know that the person(s) who wrote the song originally and the publisher (regardless of who sung it) gets credit for it and the person(s) who owns the licensing rights to that artist’s songs gets the royalties to that song. But what if someone does a cover of a cover? Well, I know that Britney Spears doing a cover of “Joan Jett’s” I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll was really originally done by the Arrows. So whomever owns the licensing rights to that song by the Arrows would make a profit from Britney Spears. And the members who wrote it in the Arrows would be listed as the writers.

But “Rich Girl”? The song was originally “Rich Man” from the movie “Fiddler on the Roof”. But was then revamped and remade by Lady Saw, a reggae singer. Lady Saw took the melody of the chorus and the idea of the orignal but made it in a different style/beat and adding different lyrics – making it very distinguishable from the original since it some of the original’s elements, but not being a full-blown “cover song”. Then Gwen took that version Lady Saw did and covered it, doing a pop version of the reggae/dancehall song. Does the original writer and Lady Saw both get credit for this or just the original writer in the CD?

I did some research on this subject since I don’t actually own the Gwen Stefani CD. (She’s already a rich girl, so I’m not going to buy the CD just to write a freakin’ journal entry).

Batson, Kreviazuk, Bock, Stefani, Dioguardi, Young, Elizondo, Eve, Harnick are credited on http://www.songfile.com for Gwen’s version of the song. (Bock and Harnick being the ones who are credited in the original Fiddler on the Roof version). Young being Andre Young (Dr. Dre) who produced Gwen and Eve’s version of the song. Kreviazuk is Chantal Kreviazuk who is a singer but also wrote songs for other artists including Avril Lavigne. She worked with Gwen on several other songs on her CD. Elizondo is credited on other songs on Gwen’s album so we’ll assume that person isn’t connected to Lady Saw directly. I’ll assume it’s Mike Elizondo since he is listed in credits on some Eminem songs that Dre produced. Same with Batson who is listed as Jeff Batson on those same Eminem songs. Kara Dioguardi has co-written songs for Britney, Ashlee Simpson, Ryan Cabrera, Enrique Iglesias, Kelly Osbourne, and many other pop stars. And we know who Eve and Stefani are.

But where is Marion Hall a.k.a. Lady Saw’s name on the credits? It’s very obvious listening to “Rich Man” and then “Rich Girl” that it was inspired either in whole or in huge part by the Lady Saw version. And it leaves certain parts of the Man version out that Lady Saw did as well, has the same beat and some of the same background music as Saw’s (which is very different from the Fiddler version), has Eve guest appearing on it – doing her best attempt to toast (the reggae style of rapping – toasting is believed to be one of the many musical styles/sources that hip-hop originated from). And let’s not forget the fact that Gwen’s a Lady Saw fan and even had her in a version of “Underneath It All.”

So my question has been answered. Gwen, her co-writers, producers, plus the original two people who were credited to the song were credited for Gwen’s version. Nothing at all to Lady Saw. However, I don’t think that’s right. I mean, if for some unknown reason I covered MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” with the same background music he took from Rick James and with MC’s lyrics, wouldn’t I have to credit Rick James and all the people involved in “Super Freak” plus MC Hammer for the lyrics? I wouldn’t just credit James and his people. I would think, right?

Then again Dre’s been known for taking music from other artists (usually older, forgotten, lesser known, and/or obscure artists). Like some of the tracks he used for Eminem but never credited and Eminem may have had no idea about, therefore not crediting. Dre takes the approach of not crediting or giving any royalties to the originators unless he gets caught, then will pay them off. Kind of like how a car company may not recall a model that they later find out has a life threatening defect because it’s cheaper to get sued by the couple of people who get injured than to recall all those vehicles. Okay, not as drastic as that, but anyways… like I said Gwen’s a Lady Saw fan so I’m not thinking that she was unaware of what Dre was doing if that was the scenario.

The copyright industry doesn’t make sense at times. Gwen doesn’t have to credit Ms. Saw, yet Paris Hilton owns the rights to the phrase “That’s Hot” – a phrase that countless people have used on a regular basis, including myself since, like, elementary school? Donald Trump owns the words “You’re fired”. Why don’t I copyright the phrase “Spoiled Brat” or “You suck”? It’s probably already taken and someone will come after me.

Addition on April 15 – To add to all of this, hear Eve/Gwen’s little addition which just makes this ridiculous:

What happened to my life? Turned up side down.
Chicks dat blew ya mind, ding, it’s the second round.
Original track and ting.
You know you can’t buy these things.

Original my ass. It’s okay to cover someone but don’t claim in the song itself that it’s original.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: