Carrie Underwood has handled Sunday Night Football theme duties since 2013, although the song itself is on its third iteration. Now, a lawsuit is alleging that the current version was actually stolen from another artist.
According to this report from Reuters, Heidi Merrill says she pitched her song to producers in 2017 as the new version of the Sunday Night Football theme, only to be turned down.
Heidi Merrill, who said she uploaded her “Game On” to Google’s YouTube in March 2017, said her copyright was infringed after Underwood’s producer Mark Bright rejected her August 2017 pitch at a conference in Nashville to use the song for “Sunday Night Football.”
In their complaint, Merrill and her co-writers said Underwood’s “Game On” is “substantially – even strikingly – similar, if not identical” to their song, including in title, tempo, meter, time signature, rhythmic and melodic contours and patterns, note and chord progressions, and hooks.
Bright and music publishing affiliates of Sony Corp and Warner Music Group are among the nine defendants named in the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court.
If you’re curious, Merrill did indeed upload a version of the song to YouTube in March of 2017.
Underwood’s new Sunday Night Football theme, meanwhile, debuted in the fall of 2018. Here’s the Week 1 edition:
Those aren’t dissimilar! As neither a legal expert nor a musical expert, it’s tough to really render a judgment, but if Merrill proves she did in fact meet with Underwood’s producer to pitch the song, it’s not a great look for the corporate side.
Tim Foster, a lawyer at Sam P. Israel PC representing the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit followed the rejection by several defendants of his clients’ effort to negotiate a resolution.
“Ms. Underwood recorded a song that was substantially similar to the original song submitted through her producer, without giving credit or compensation of any kind to the original songwriters,” Foster said in an interview. “We assume that there will be significant damages.”
Underwood and NBC have yet to comment.