Is Katy Perry a music thief?
That’s the question at the center of rapper Flame’s court case against Perry and her “Dark Horse” collaborators — rapper Juicy J, songwriter Sarah Hudson and producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin.
Perry stood trial Thursday to defend herself against Flame, also known as Marcus Gray, and his colleagues, who have claimed that Perry and her team stole the beat from his 2008 Christian song “Joyful Noise” and used it for her 2013 hit.
But how similar are the songs, really? Upon first listen to Gray’s “Joyful Noise,” ears with only a vague memory of Perry’s 6-year-old radio hit may hear a perfect match. But a more careful comparison reveals slight differences.
Perhaps the most obvious distinction between the tunes is timing. The “Dark Horse” beat plays a hair slower and, consequently, even seems to come in at a bit of a deeper pitch. Plus, “Joyful Noise” features more musical variation.
While “Dark Horse” repeats the exact same chain of synthetic sounds over and over, “Joyful Noise” alternates between two sequences with marginally different endings. One of the beats drops nearly identically to Perry’s, while the other rises at the end.
Leave it to the judge to decide whether the tracks’ overlaps are criminal or coincidence as the trial resumes on Friday.