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Taylor Swift says she never listened to 3LW before writing 'Shake It Off'

Taylor Swift attends the "All Too Well" New York premiere on Nov. 12, 2021. Swift responded to a copyright lawsuit about her 2014 hit "Shake It Off" this week.
Dimitrios Kambouris
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Taylor Swift attends the "All Too Well" New York premiere on Nov. 12, 2021. Swift responded to a copyright lawsuit about her 2014 hit "Shake It Off" this week.

Taylor Swift has told a federal court that she wrote all of the lyrics to her 2014 hit "Shake It Off," and said she had never heard of the group 3LW or their 2001 song "Playas Gon' Play" before a lawsuit was filed against her.

Swift made these statements in a declaration this week over the case originally filed in 2017 by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who wrote "Playas Gon' Play" and allege that Swift stole some of its lyrics for "Shake It Off."

The lawsuit focuses on Swift's chorus, which include the phrases, "'the players gonna play, play, play," and "the haters gonna hate, hate, hate." The 3LW songwriters point out that the 2001 song contains the lyrics, "playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate."

She said that the phrases "players gonna play" and "haters gonna hate" were part of popular culture as she was growing up, and often used "to express the idea that one can or should shrug off negativity."

Swift said her lyrics did not have any influence from 3LW and instead, is about "independence and 'shaking off' negative personal criticism through music and dance."

"In writing the lyrics, I drew partly on experiences in my life and, in particular, unrelenting public scrutiny of my personal life, 'clickbait' reporting, public manipulation, and other forms of negative personal criticism which I learned I just needed to shake off and focus on my music," Swift said.

In her declaration, Swift provides examples to illustrate her point that the phrases were widely used, including a 2013 performance by Eric Church at the Country Music Awards. Church performed his song "The Outsiders," which also includes the lyrics "the player's gonna play and a hater's gonna hate."

At one of her own performances in 2013, Swift says she wore a T-shirt with the phrase "haters gonna hate" on it, and added that she purchased the shirt from Urban Outfitters.

Swift concluded that she had "never heard the song Playas Gon' Play and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW," before the lawsuit by Hall and Butler in 2017.

"None of the CDs I listened to as a child, or after that, were by 3LW," Swift said. "I have never heard the song Playas Gon' Play on the radio, on television, or in any film. The first time I ever heard the song was after this claim was made."

Here's more from her declaration:

"I have never seen a Playas Gon' Play music video, never attended any concert where 3LW performed, and never attended any concert where the song Playas Gon' Play was performed. I do not own any 3LW  albums or singles, or any recording of Playas Gon' Play. I do not own and have never listened to the albums Now That's What I Call Music! 6 or Now That's What I Call Music! 7. I did not discuss Playas Gon' Play or 3LW with anyone prior to this lawsuit. I have never subscribed to Billboard magazine and had never read anything  in the magazine until after I moved to Nashville and became immersed in the music  business." 

Hall and Butler have said that they coined the phrase, and that while it "may seem like common parlance today," it was "completely original and unique" when they wrote the song.

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.