Adele may have become a colossus of the music world, sweeping all before her in terms of record sales and awards, and single-handedly propping up the beleagured industry with her record-breaking new album 25.
But now one of that album’s most acclaimed tracks, “Million Years Ago”, in which Adele seems to lament the ordinary life fame has taken from her, has become embroiled in a plagiarism row. Fans of the Kurdish-Turkish singer Ahmet Kaya are claiming that the tune is not a million miles away from his 1985 song “Acilara Tutunmak (Clinging to Pain)”.
Social media sites in Turkey were abuzz with claims that the 27-year-old British singer had ripped off the song from Kaya, who died in November 2000.
“Adele has stolen from us,” Esra Nur Aydogan wrote on Twitter.
Kaya was a famous Kurdish singer from Malatya, Turkey, who died in November 2000 as an exile in Paris. He was an outcast in Turkey, despite releasing tracks in both Turkish and Kurdish, having identified as a Kurd of Turkey.
One YouTube user concluded however: "Both are generic as f*ck, there are literally hundreds other songs that sound just like that."
The plagiarism row echoes that faced by American rapper and music producer Jay Z, whose Arab fans were recently outraged with the singer for “stealing” flute samples from the late Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez’s 1957 song “Khosara” (What a Shame), written by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdy, and using them in his 1999 hit single “Big Pimpin’”.
Jay Z was cleared last month. After a week of testimony from the rapper, US district judge Christina Snyder ruled that Jay Z was not liable for an “uncleared sample” that helped to make up his hit.
“Khosara” was used as a chorus loop for “Big Pimpin’” allegedly without realising it was owned by EMI Music Arabia. In 2001, the producers paid $100,000 to EMI Music Arabia for the license
Naim Dilmener, a Turkish music critic, accepted that there were some similarities between the “Million Years Ago” and “Acilara Tutunmak” songs but “not too much”.
“I don’t think Adele listened to Ahmet Kaya’s song and copied it deliberately,” he said, adding that he thought the Kurdish singer’s song was “an easy tune to figure out”.
Kaya’s widow Gülten Kaya also said that it was unlikely for a global superstar such as Adele to carry out such action, but told the Turkish daily Posta: “However, if she consciously did it, then it would be theft.”
Adele’s spokesperson had yet to respond to a request to comment.
25 sold a million copies in just 10 days to become the UK’s fastest-selling album, beating previous record holder “Be Here Now” by Oasis, which took 17 days to reach seven figure sales in 1997, the Official Charts Company said. Her new album also topped the charts for the second week running on Friday.
She won six Grammys for her previous album, 21, released in 2011, but was not eligible for this year’s nominations, released yesterday, because 25 was released too late for consideration.
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