Ed Sheeran trial bursts into laughter over “hideous” AI version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’

The pop star also played his guitar for members of the jury

Laughter reportedly broke out in Ed Sheeran’s ongoing plagiarism trial, after the court was played an AI version of Marvin Gaye’s song ‘Let’s Get It On’.

The ongoing lawsuit stems back to 2017, when the pop star was sued by Ed Townsend — one of the co-writers on the Marvin Gaye track ‘Let’s Get It On’ — who accused him of copying the song in his hit release ‘Thinking Out Loud’.

The accusations Sheeran faces allege that he (and his co-writer Amy Wadge) copied an ascending four-chord sequence and rhythm of the 1973 track. It also references “striking similarities” that violate the copyright.


Now, in a recent development of the trial, it has been reported that laughter broke out in the court after members of the jury were made to listen to a “hideous” AI version of the Marvin Gaye song.

According to Insider, those attending court on Wednesday (April 26) listened to the artificially generated take of the track, provided by a plaintiff musicology expert. As per the report, the computer-generated voice sang the lyrics in a way that sounded like “HAL the computer committing lethal karaoke in a sci-fi horror flick”. It also claimed that Sheeran tried not to smile at the defence table.

Dr Alexander Stewart, the musicologist who played the track, was attempting to show the similarities between Gaye and Sheeran’s respective songs with the audio.

Ed Sheeran leaves after the first day of his copyright-infringement trial at Manhattan Federal Court on April 25, 2023 in New York City
Ed Sheeran. CREDIT: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Speaking to the publication, the plaintiff’s heir, Griffin Townsend, later described her thoughts on the song. “It was hideous,” she said. “I think [Gaye] would have laughed” to hear it because he had a sense of humour.”

Elsewhere in the trial, CNN reported that the plaintiff, Kathryn Townsend Griffin, collapsed and had to be carried out of court, and Ed Sheeran also cited the love between his grandparents as his inspiration for ‘Thinking Out Loud’.


As per the BBC, the singer-songwriter also sang and played guitar for the New York jury. Lasting roughly an hour, he performed parts of his 2014 song to show the chord progressions involved and explain the vocal melodies.

“When I write vocal melodies, it’s like phonetics,” he said, explaining that the song was written at home when he said the phrase “I’m singing out now”, which ultimately changed and became the title of the song.

He also told the courtroom that he is “not the world’s most talented guitar player”, and explained that he writes music quickly – sometimes creating up to nine songs per day.

Earlier this week, it was reported that attorney Ben Crump claimed that the singer “confessed” to copying Gaye, by mashing up the two songs at a live show.

Responding to the accusations made on Tuesday (April 25), Sheeran stated: “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].”

He continued, adding: “It is my belief that most pop songs are built on building blocks that have been freely available for 100s of years.”

The ongoing lawsuit is expected to last up to two weeks.

This isn’t the first case of plagiarism that Sheeran has been involved in.

Earlier this year, he won a plagiarism lawsuit raised against his song ‘Shape Of You’. He also settled a £16million ($20million) lawsuit for his song ‘Photograph’ in 2017.

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