Lady Gaga is being threatened with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit by an unknown songwriter who claims the melody of her Oscar-winning song “Shallow” from her hit movie “A Star Is Born” was stolen from a song he released in 2012.
The nine-time Grammy-winning artist has been hit with a legal threat by songwriter Steve Ronsen who claims just a few notes — specifically, a three-note progression — in “Shallow” is based on his song “Almost,” which appears to have fewer than 300 streams on SoundCloud as of this writing. The three notes — G, A, B — correspond to the hook of “Shallow.”
Ronsen and his attorney Mark D. Shirian are asking for “millions and millions” of dollars in a settlement, we’re told, while threatening to go public with their claims, in a move that Gaga’s team is branding as a “brazen shakedown.”
Gaga, 33, has hired NYC power attorney Orin Snyder, who says the superstar will not back down.
Snyder said, “Mr. Ronsen and his lawyer are trying to make easy money off the back of a successful artist. It is shameful and wrong. I applaud Lady Gaga for having the courage and integrity to stand up on behalf of successful artists who find themselves on the receiving end of such [claims]. Should Mr. Shirian proceed with this case, Lady Gaga will fight it vigorously and will prevail.”
While Ronsen claims he originally wrote the three-note progression that appears in “Shallow,” Gaga’s legal team points out that — while his song sounds nothing like “Shallow” — this progression is common and can be heard in musical pieces dating back centuries. It can also be heard on Kansas’ track “Dust In The Wind,” released in 1978.
“Almost” songwriter Ronsen appears to be a prolific working musician who had a solo album released in 2012, and now is the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for a touring Nashville band. He could not immediately be reached.
When contacted by Maybach Media on Thursday, Ronsen’s attorney Shirian provided the following statement:
“In an effort to amicably resolve this matter months ago, my office provided Lady Gaga’s legal team, at their request, with an official report from a renowned and respected musicologist and professor who determined that there are significant tempo, melodic, rhythmic and harmonic similarities between the two ‘hooks’ of the songs at issue. Lady Gaga’s team has yet to provide my office with an opposing musicologist report, which we have requested multiple times. Shallow” was recorded by Gaga and Bradley Cooper, released in 2018 as the lead single from the soundtrack of their movie from the same year, “A Star Is Born,” and became the foundation of the film’s deep love story.
It was written by Gaga, Mark Ronson — the successful producer also known for “Uptown Funk,” no relation to Ronsen — Dirty Pretty Things member Anthony Rossomando and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, who have described how Gaga first played the melody to them in a studio two years prior, in 2016.
Gaga told the LA Times;
“When I wrote that song with Mark and Anthony and Andrew, it was different from any other experience I’ve had writing a song. There was a grave nature to the room. I was at the piano, the guys each had a guitar in their hands and we started coming up with lyrics and talking to each other. That’s really what the song is. It’s a conversation between a man and a woman. But we didn’t know that when we started.”
“It’s a song that gives you wings to fly,” Gaga added, discussing how it appears in the movie: First, in the late-night courtship scene between her aspiring singer character Ally and Cooper’s country-rock superstar character Jackson, and then again when Jackson invites Ally on stage to sing it at the Greek Theatre.
“It’s a song that essentially inspires both of them to be fearless in different ways. For him, fearless in love; for her, fearless in not just only love, but her ability to share that part of her that’s a songwriter, the part of her that doesn’t feel comfortable singing her song. I mean, this girl has completely given up. She’s completely depressed. She doesn’t think she has what it takes. And then she meets this superstar, and he believes in her, and she’s overwhelmed by that belief. That’s what drives her out there. And I think that’s what people are connecting to when they watch it.”
Cooper and Gaga performed “Shallow” at the Oscars, where it won Best Original Song, having already won a Golden Globe. The song also garnered two Grammy awards.
“Shallow” has been streamed around 200 million times in the US, passed the $1 million mark in sales earlier this year, and became the longest-running number-one song in the US by a female lead.