Rick Astley Sues Rapper Yung Gravy over Hit song With Soundalike Singer

The new lawsuit raises bigger questions about what can be legally borrowed from older songs, even when certain licenses are protected.

Breakout Rapper Rick Astley

Rick Astley is suing Yung Gravy over the rapper’s breakout 2022 hit, which borrows heavily from the singer’s iconic “Never Gonna Give You Up,” alleging that the new track — an interpolation that uses an entire sample Kind of totally broke the law by impersonating Astley’s voice.

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Astley’s lawyers wrote

In a lawsuit filed Thursday (Jan. 26) in a Los Angeles court, Astley claims that Gravy’s “Betty (Get Money),” which peaked at No. 30 on the Hot 100 last year, violated the singer’s so-called promotional rights. infringed because it closely mimicked the distinctive voice Astley used in his 1987 chart-topping hit., “In an effort to capitalize on Mr. Astley’s immense popularity and goodwill, defendants … used Mr. Astley’s voice throughout the song.” conspired to involve a deliberate and almost indistinguishable imitation of the The public could not tell the difference. The imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice was so successful that the public thought it was actually Mr. Astley singing.

The New York Times called it “a real life

Pulling so much from a song thanks to Internet memes, “Betty” a big hit for Yung Gravy. But it often drew attention largely for its relationship to Astley; The New York Times called it “a real-life hit”. rickroll which serves as a comedy song, a TikTok trend and a nostalgia trip.” In his new lawsuit, Astley’s attorneys said the singer was “extremely protective of his name, image and likeness,” which meaning that the unauthorized use of a sound like sound has caused him “grievous harm”.

Republic Records of Universal Music Group

Representatives for Gravy (real name Matthew Howry) and Universal Music Group’s Republic Records (named in the lawsuit as the label that issued “Betty”) did not immediately return requests for comment. raises big questions about ways to legally borrow from, an ever-more-popular tactic in an age heavy on nostalgia. When they created “Betty,” Gravy and his team reportedly used “Give You Up.” approved the underlying musical composition, which Astley does not own. This gave him the legal right to recreate the music and lyrics from the original song in his new track – a process known as “interpolating”.

Popnik to mimic “signature voice”

But the lawsuit says that Gravy and his team weren’t able to secure a license to use the actual sound recording of the famous track—the better-known process of “sampling.” This would mean that they have no right to directly copy the exact sounds, including Astley’s voice. Instead, Astley says that he hired Popnik (real name Nick Seeley) to mimic Astley’s “signature voice” on the track. ) was hired. At one point, the lawsuit quotes from an Instagram video in which Popnick said he wanted to sing a “similar sound” to Astley’s voice.

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