A group of songwriters have launched a blockbuster lawsuit targeting NBC Universal, the NFL and Carrie Underwood, alleging the “Sunday Night Football” theme “Game On” is a rip-off off their song of the same name — and offer some compelling evidence to back up the claim.
As Deadline reports, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by songwriters Heidi Merrill, Alex Wong, Jeff Cohen and Niclas Lundin, claiming they created an earlier version of the Underwood-sung “Sunday Night Football” intro song.
The lawsuit, alleging copyright infringement, also names an array of music publishers affiliated with Underwood, in addition to songwriters Chris DeStefano, Brett James and Mark Bright, who produced the track.
In the suit, Merrill and the other collaborators on her track say that they created their version of “Game On” in June 2016, with Merrill’s video for the song uploaded to YouTube on March 17, 2017; in addition, it was subsequently featured on CBS’s “Inside College Basketball”.
In the suit, Merrill alleges that she emailed the song to Bright, Underwood’s longtime producer, alleging he told her, “We’re going to have to pass.”
However, states the suit, another “strikingly similar” song — also titled “Game On” — then premiered as the new intro for the 2018 season of “Sunday Night Football”.
According to Deadline, Sam P. Israel, managing partner of Sam P. Israel PC, describes the alleged plagiarism as “a blatant attempt by a celebrity singer to rip off other artists’ work, and it won’t be tolerated. It’s indefensible to steal music created by hard-working songwriters and then broadcast that theft on national television.”
You can read the complaint in its entirety right here.
So how valid is the claim? Compare the two songs below, beginning with Merrill’s “Game On”.
And here’s Underwood’s version, which came approximately 18 months after Merrill’s song was uploaded to YouTube.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy tells Deadline the league was declining to comment, while NBCUniversal did not immediately respond for a request for comment.
ET Canada has reached out to Underwood’s rep for comment.