In an ideal world, artistry would be synonymous with originality. But that’s not always the case and, sometimes, even the biggest artists of today get caught up in plagiarism controversies. Whether they were blissfully unaware, or left creative direction up to someone else, many artists have been accused of ripping off other music videos in recent years. Social media has made it easier for fans to crack down on these instances. And, to be fair, sometimes the parallels fans make are a stretch. Whatever the case, these celebrities accused of copying other artists’ music videos got into major hot water with fans.
Pop music artists seem to be on the forefront of plagiarism controversies in the industry. A number of top pop stars have been accused of stealing imagery from others, with the likes of Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and Miley Cyrus all being on the recieving end of similar accusations. But when it comes to art, there is a fine line between what is actual plagiarism and an artist simply taking inspiration from another artist or even paying an homage.
Some celebs may chalk it up to coincidence, but these music video similarities have landed them in the pool of plagiarism accusations.
1. Miley Cyrus & Dua Lipa Were Accused By The Band Dream Wife After Releasing Their “Prisoner” Video
Cyrus and Lipa released a collaboration called “Prisoner” in November 2020 and had fans falling in love with the ’80s-inspired anthem. The singers both appear in the official video for the track, but it soon faced backlash after its release. A punk rock band called Dream Wife accused the pop stars of ripping off their visual for “So When You Gonna” released in May 2020.
The bandmates themselves shared side-by-side shots of both videos, including one scene where the women played on-stage and were framed in a set of teeth.
Cyrus and Lipa have yet to respond to Dream Wife’s accusations.
2. Taylor Swift Was Accused Of Copying Beyoncé’s “Party” Video With The Release of “You Need To Calm Down”
Swift’s ultra-colorful “You Need To Calm Down” video arrived in June 2019 and it was a tribute to the LGBTQ+ community. Swifties fell head over heels for the fun-loving clip, but a different fanbase wasn’t so thrilled. Beyoncé stans came for Swift after they perceived multiple similarities between the videos. Both took place in trailer parks, and both featured the singers floating in a circular swimming pool.
“#YouNeedToCalmDown would be a beautiful (yet opportunistic) salute to the LGBT community if it weren’t a direct rip-off of Beyoncé’s #Party video,” one fan tweeted after watching the video.
Swift never addressed the accusations.
3. Lil Nas X Was Accused Of Copying FKA Twigs’ “Celophane” Video With “Montero”
In March 2021, Lil Nas X‘ was accused of copying FKA twigs April 2019 video for “Cellophane” with his “Montero” video. From start to finish, the video seemed to be inspired by FKA twigs clips almost shot to shot, and fans couldn’t ignore the not-so-loose inspiration.
Lil Nas X addressed the controversy in a March 30 Instagram post.
“I want to show love to @fkatwigs & @andrewthomashuang ! the ‘cellophane’ visual is a masterpiece,” he wrote. “I was not aware that the visual would serve as inspiration for those who worked on the effects of my video. I want to say thank u to twigs for calling me and informing me about the similarities between the two videos, as i was not aware they were so close. was only excited for the video to come out.”
“I understand how hard you worked to bring this visual to life. you deserve so much more love and praise,” he added.
4. Chris Brown Was Accused Of Copying German Artist Marius Sperlich In “Wobble Up”
German artist Marius Sperlich spoke out against Brown in August 2019 when the singer’s music video for “Wobble Up” was packed with imagery resembling his artwork. For starters, the clip featured images of a temperature dial in place of a woman’s nipple (much like his artwork). It also included an island shaped like a butt, another image he’s used before.
Sperlich addressed the situation on Instagram, though his post has since been deleted. “Intellectual Property has to be protected at any cost!” he captioned his post which compared the two videos. He added that the images from Brown’s music video were used “without permission, without credit.”
Brown never addressed the accusations.
5. Beyoncé Was Accused Of Copying Khia’s “My Neck My Back” Video With Her “Party” Video
Beyoncé has fallen victim to others seemingly copying her in the past, but she’s also been on the other end of the spectrum. Rapper Khia believes that Beyoncé copied the concept from her 2002 video for “My Neck, My Back” in her 2011 “Party” video (yup, the one Swift was accused of copying in 2019). She didn’t hold back when addressing the situation.
“@beyoncé thanks you for the love the tweets & roses!” she said in a now-deleted tweet, insinuating Bey had been in touch. “[Too] bad I don’t bulldag with prego women. Call super head jay knows all about her.” She later wrote in her timeline, “I’m @beyoncé baby’s god mother, if it’s girl she naming her Khia! [But thank you] for taking my advice & and tips on how to make a real hood video! Xox.”
There’s no clear evidence Beyoncé contacted Khia about the video.
6. Ariana Grande Was Accused Of Copying A Painter Named Vladimir Kush With Her “God Is A Woman” Video
In her July 2018 music video for “God Is A Woman,” Grande was accused of copying paintings from artist Vladimir Kush. Kush found the similarities to be so extreme, he filed a legal complaint against the singer in January 2019. He claimed she took imagery directly from his paintings The Candle and The Candle 2.
Kush sought “preliminary and permanent injunctions” against Grande and her team. Grande has not publicly responded.
7. Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” Video Was Accused Of Ripping Off A Photo Series By Artists Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
Eilish’s November 2020 video for “Bad Guy” had several similarities to past work from two artists, Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. Even Eilish’s fans noticed the striking similarities, and took to Twitter to point them out.
Eilish has yet to respond to the accusations.
8. Taylor Swift’s “Delicate” Video Was Accused Of Stealing From A Kenzo Ad
When unveiled her music video for “Delicate” during the iHeart Radio Music Awards in March 2018, it didn’t take long for fans on Twitter to bring up one major problem. The video seemingly featured a number of scenes that were incredibly similar to an ad from Kenzo created by filmmaker Spike Jonze. The ad was originally released in 2016, but fans think someone from Swift’s camp referenced it shot for shot while planning Tay’s “Delicate” visual.
Swift didn’t respond to the accusations.