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Ed Sheeran Trial: Music Expert Says ‘Thinking Out Loud’ ‘Very, Very Similar’ to ‘Let’s Get It On’

A musicologist testified Wednesday that Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” “sound very, very similar” in the copyright infringement trial against Sheeran.

However, the testimony was overshadowed in part when Kathryn Townsend Griffin — the daughter of the late “Let’s Get It On” co-writer Ed Townsend, whose estate is suing Sheeran — collapsed in court during the defense’s cross-examination of music expert Dr. Alexander Stewart, a witness for the plaintiff.

On the stand, Stewart told the court that the two songs share a similar chord progression and “have the same harmonic rhythm” when it comes to the verses, choruses, and interlude, CNN reported. 

Using a computer-generated version of “Let’s Get It On” to compare to the sheet music of “Thinking Out Loud,” Stewart testified that the two songs shared a 70-percent “musical value,” although Sheeran’s defense pushed back on the sheet music that Stewart used to conduct his test, arguing that it was altered.

Minutes into the defense’s questioning of Stewart, Townsend Griffin suffered her medical emergency, with members of both the plaintiffs’ and defense team helping her out of the courtroom. Townsend Griffin was then transported to a New York hospital.

Court resumed after a 15-minute break, though members of Townsend Griffin’s family were not in attendance. Cross-examination of Stewart will continue Thursday. Sheeran, who already took the stand when called by the plaintiffs, is expected to testify in his own defense later in the week.

The long-delayed trial — Sheeran was initially sued in 2016 by Townsend’s heirs, but the lawsuit was delayed pending the outcome of the “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit — finally made it to the courtroom earlier this week.


During the trial, with Sheeran on the witness stand, Townsend estate lawyer Ben Crump questioned the singer about “smoking gun” evidence: Concert footage where Sheeran merged the two songs during a show; earlier that day, Crump described the mashup as a “confession.”

“If I’d done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be an idiot to stand on stage in front of 20,000 people [and do that],” Sheeran said in response to the allegations. “It is my belief that most pop songs are built on building blocks that have been freely available for 100s of years.”

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