Yellowcard has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Juice WRLD, claiming the rapper’s hit “Lucid Dreams” copies their 2006 song “Holly Wood Died.”
The suit alleges that Juice WRLD and his producers knowingly copied “Holly Wood Died,” and that “Lucid Dreams” “directly misappropriates quantitative and qualitatively important portions of [‘Holly Wood Died’] in a manner that is easily recognizable to the ordinary observer.” It adds that “Lucid Dreams” is “not only substantially similar to [‘Holly Wood Died’], but in some places virtually identical.”
Along with Juice WRLD (real name Jarad A. Higgins), the suit names as co-defendants “Lucid Dreams” co-writer Taz Taylor (real name Danny Lee Snodgress, Jr.) and producer Nick Mira, along with their respective publishing entities. BMG Rights Management, the song’s publisher, was also named, along with Juice WRLD’s record label, Grade A, and its parent company, Interscope. Yellowcard are seeking damages in excess of $15 million.
“Lucid Dreams” was released in May 2018 and became a massive hit for Juice WRLD, anchoring his debut studio album, Goodbye and Good Riddance. The song is centered around a sample of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” but in their new lawsuit Yellowcard allege that while Juice WRLD and his collaborators licensed that song, “they decided to willfully infringe [‘Holly Wood Died’].”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Yellowcard’s lawyer, Richard Busch, said, “This was not a lawsuit the guys wanted to file. They put all of the parties on notice to try to resolve it. That notice was pretty much ignored leaving them with no real choice. As alleged in the complaint, this is not just a generic emo rap song, but is a blatant copy of significant original compositional elements of ‘Holly Wood Died’ in several respects.”
A representative for Juice WRLD did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
The lawsuit claims that there are melodic elements in “Lucid Dreams” and “Holly Wood Died” that are “not only substantially similar, but… in places are virtually identical.” The suit prominently cites the similarities between the first verses of both songs, and includes transcriptions of each, claiming there are 18 notes in the “Lucid Dreams” verse that are the same in pitch and synchronicity as “Holly Wood Died,” and eight additional notes that are the same in terms of pitch and almost the same in terms of synchronicity.
The suit also highlights a “melodic idiosyncrasy” that is allegedly used similarly in both “Holly Wood Died” and “Lucid Dreams” — a “melisma,” which is a string of different notes used to sing a single syllable of text.
The suit claims that the melisma in “Holly Wood Died” appears at the end of the phrase “like razors they cut through the heart,” with the pitch on “heart” shifting from C to A; in “Lucid Dreams,” the suit claims, the melisma falls at the end of the line, “I know that you want me dead,” with the word “dead” also sung in the same two pitches, C to A.
“The high degree of objective similarity between the [‘Holly Wood Died’] and [‘Lucid Dreams’] extends well beyond the possibility of coincidence and could only reasonably be the result of an act of copying,” the suit claims.
Along with listing the similarities between the two tracks, the suit seeks to prove that Juice WRLD would have been familiar with Yellowcard’s work, specifically “Holly Wood Died” and the album it appeared on, Lights and Sounds.
While the suit does not include any direct quotes from Juice WRLD where he mentions either the song or album, it does claim that Juice WRLD would have likely been familiar with Yellowcard because he’s cited their emo and pop-punk peers, such as Fall Out Boy, Foo Fighters and the Devil Wears Prada, as influences in past interviews.
The lawsuit also quotes an interview Juice WRLD gave in which he said he first started listening to emo and pop-punk in the fifth grade, so that he had something to talk about with a “really Emo” girl he had a crush on.
“Upon information and belief, based upon his current age, these initial events would have occurred in approximately 2006,” the suit claims. “Thus, upon information and belief, at the time Defendant Juice WRLD began studying the Emo genre of music, ‘Holly Wood Died’ would have been recently released,” the suit claims.