We can stop talking about Miley Cyrus’s 2013 hit “We Can’t Stop” one day, conceivably, but today is not that day. The song, as well as its accompanying twerk-featuring video and “strategic hot mess” of a VMAs performance were called out for appropriation by culture writers and seemingly mocked by Jay-Z in song. And now there’s a lawsuit accusing Cyrus of theft.
Jamaican songwriter Flourgon (real name: Michael May) has sued Cyrus for $300 million, alleging she ripped off his 1988 song “We Run Things,” according to a report by Reuters. May claims Cyrus has misappropriated his material, notably in the “We Can’t Stop” line that goes, “We run things/Things don’t run we.” In his song, May sings, “We run things/Things no run we.”
Musically, though, it seems, the songs have little in common:
That said, it’s not unheard of for an artist to emerge successful after suing another for yanking some lines. Chuck Berry’s publisher, Big Seven Music Corp, sued John Lennon for converting a line from Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” in the Beatles’ “Come Together” (“Here come up flat top/He was movin’ up with me/” versus “Here comes ol’ flat-top/He come groovin’ up slowly”). Lennon was ordered to record three Big Seven songs on his next album and when he didn’t, he had to pay. Johnny Cash settled out of court with Gordon Jenkins for ripping off “Crescent City Blues” in “Folsom City Blues.”
So even if May’s argument may seem slight, there’s basis for a lawsuit. Cyrus and her record label Sony did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.