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Ed Sheeran sings Nina Simone and Blackstreet at High Court trial

The singer has denied claims that he plagiarised 'Shape of You'

By Nick Reilly

Ed Sheeran poses for a press photo with his head resting on his arms, wearing a white t-shirt
Ed Sheeran recently released new album '='. (Photo: Atlantic Records).

Ed Sheeran sang Nina Simone‘s ‘Feeling Good’ and Blackstreet‘s ‘No Diggity’ yesterday as he addressed the High Court as part of the ongoing plagiarism case surrounding his song ‘Shape of You’.

The singer appeared before the London court to deny claims that the catchy “Oh I, Oh I, Oh I” hook in his 2017 mega-hit was lifted from Sami Chokri’s 2015 track ‘Oh Why’. The singer has also denied claims that he heard Chokri’s track, released as Sami Switch, before writing the hit in October 2016.

Sheeran is said to have sung snippets of Simone’s 1965 hit and Blackstreet’s 1996 song yesterday in an attempt to prove that the melody is common within pop music.

“If you put them all in the same key, they’ll sound the same,” Sheeran told the court.

Royalties from the track, estimated to be worth £20million, have been frozen since Chokri and co-writer Ross O’Donoghue issued a claim for “copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement” back in July 2018.

Audio obtained by lawyers for Chokri and O’Donoghue also captured a moment from the ‘Shape Of You’ recording sessions in which Sheeran is heard to say that he was going to change the “oh I” melody because it was “a bit close to the bone”.

Responding to that claim, the singer said: “We thought it was a bit too close to ‘No Diggity’. I said that… we should change it.”

Quizzed about who had created the “oh I” phrase for the song, Sheeran said that the song had been a collaborative effort with his co-writers Steve Mac and Johnny McDaid.

But Andrew Sutcliffe QC replied: “Three people could not create the germ of the melody”, prompting Sheeran to hit back: “Why can’t three people create a melody?”

The trial also revealed that Sheeran recently wrote 25 new songs in the space of a week with The National’s Aaron Dessner.

After the release of ‘Shape Of You’, the singer gave credit to the writers behind TLC’s 1999 hit ‘No Scrubs’ after comparisons were drawn between the two tracks.