10 people who could also sue Taylor Swift for plagiarizing lyrics to “Shake It Off”

R&B singer Jesse Graham is suing Swift for $42 million because he's claiming "haters gonna hate" is his—really

By Erin Keane

Chief Content Officer

Published November 3, 2015 9:51PM (EST)

Taylor Swift with her "1989" and "Shake It Off" Billboard Awards  (Eric Jamison/invision/AP)
Taylor Swift with her "1989" and "Shake It Off" Billboard Awards (Eric Jamison/invision/AP)

The haters keep coming for Taylor Swift. Last week, an R&B singer named Jesse Graham filed a lawsuit against Swift alleging that she swiped the “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate / and the players gonna play, play, play, play, play” refrain that made her 2014 single “Shake It Off” such an instant earworm from his 2013 crooner “Haters Gone Hate,” which includes a version of the phrase as well. He’s seeking $42 million in damages — in Swift dollars, that’s about a week’s worth of work, or roughly 28,000 Scottish Fold kittens.

"Her hook is the same hook as mine," Graham told the Daily News this weekend. "If I didn't write the song 'Haters Gone Hate,' there wouldn't be a song called 'Shake It Off.'"

This is no “Blurred Lines” debacle, or even a friendly Sam Smith/Tom Petty oopsie. The two songs, frankly, sound nothing alike. And according to "Know Your Meme," the ubiquitous online catchphrase dates back at least six years, which is a lifetime in Internet years. Even so, its origins go deeper. So if Graham is alleging that the terms “haters gonna hate” and “players gonna play” are his intellectual property, that if someone else hadn't conjured them out of thin air then Swift  never could have grabbed these incredibly trite clichés out of the modern parlance to anchor her sassy little pop juggernaut, he should go directly to the back of the line, because the following 10 people — by our very conservative estimate — have dibs on this juicy, frivolous lawsuit first:

  1. Ice T, who cautioned us "Don’t hate the player, hate the game" in his 1999 single "Don't Hate the Playa," which I can absolutely imagine motivating 10-year-old Taylor Swift to pursue future world domination
  2. The following year, 3LW released the excellent jam "Playas Gon' Play," which is way overdue for a retro comeback — and features, of course, the inverse to "playas gon' play," which is, and always will be, "haters gon' hate."
  3. Dave Chappelle, whose Comedy Central classic "Chappelle's Show" featured the sketch "Playa Hater's Ball" — featuring Ice T! — in 2003
  4. Omar Noory, credited with the first animated gif of record featuring a proud avatar (in this case, a strutting chubby child nicknamed baller.gif) blithely shrugging off the haters, which he first shared online in 2009
  5. This cat your college dormmate has probably claimed as her "spirit animal"
  6. The authors of these Urban Dictionary entries of "haters gonna hate," the first of which date back to 2010
  7. Whomever first captured the very essence of this almost-nude Batman rollerblading like a boss and not giving a single fuck
  8. This very proud eagle your Republican uncle won't stop posting on every Trump-bashing post he sees on Facebook
  9. Every single creator of every single gif in this 2012 Buzzfeed list
  10. Tyga, who would like to remind you he dug into the thorny player/hater dichotomy all the way back in 2013, can't he get a little credit for that? No?

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By Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's Chief Content Officer. She is also on faculty at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University and her memoir in essays, "Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me," was named one of NPR's Books We Loved In 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

1989 Aol_on Copyright Intellectual Property Music Plagiarism Pop Shake It Off Taylor Swift