Taylor Swift has filed a motion in response to a 2017 copyright lawsuit claiming that she plagiarized the chorus from her 2014 Grammy-nominated hit “Shake It Off” from former girl group 3LW’s 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play.” As Billboard reported Aug. 8, Swift wrote in a sworn declaration that “Shake It Off” was “written entirely by me” and claimed she “had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW” until the lawsuit.
Songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler allege that Swift stole the lyrics “’Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” from their song for 3LW, which comprised of former Cheetah Girls members Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams, and actor Naturi Naughton. In her statement, Swift explained that while writing the song, she drew from many experiences in her life, from films and TV shows she’s watched to phrases she heard her classmates say in high school, and also public criticism she faced throughout her career.
“With ‘Shake It Off,’ I wanted to provide a comedic, empowering approach to helping people feel better about negative criticism,” she wrote. “Prior to writing ‘Shake It Off,’ I had heard the phrases ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate’ uttered countless times to express the idea that one can or should shrug off negativity. These phrases were akin to other commonly used sayings like ‘don’t hate the playa, hate the game,’ ‘take a chill pill,’ and ‘say it, don’t spray it.’”
As further proof, Swift noted that she wore an Urban Outfitters T-shirt that reads “haters gonna hate” during a 2013 live performance (perhaps one of her famous easter eggs) and had attended the 2013 Country Music Awards, where she heard Eric Church perform a song with the lyric “the player’s gonna play and a hater’s gonna hate.” The “All Too Well” singer also mentioned that her parents “did not permit [her] to watch TRL” until she was a teenager, meaning she wouldn’t have been exposed to 3LW that way in 2001. Her mom Andrea agreed, writing that she “carefully monitored both the television she watched and the music she heard” as a child.
The lawsuit was initially dismissed in 2018, but an appeals court resurrected it in 2021, and a judge refused Swift’s request to throw out the case in December, leaving the decision to a jury. While Hall and Butler are pursuing legal action, the former members of 3LW (or at least the person running the group’s Twitter) have made it clear that they support Swift and want nothing to do with the lawsuit. “Taylor is a talented artist who has made her mark!” the group’s unverified Twitter account wrote in a December 2021 statement. “3LW has nothing to do with this case.”
As pointed out by Swifties on Reddit, the lawsuit against “Shake It Off” might be preventing the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), which Swift has teased multiple times over the past year. She has unveiled three “Taylor’s Version” re-recordings from the album through films and TV shows, including her 2015 hit singles “Wildest Dreams” and “Bad Blood,” but has not released “Shake It Off (Taylor’s Version)” or given a release date for the accompanying album. The trial is currently scheduled to begin on Nov. 15.