Miley Cyrus. Picture: AFP
Miley Cyrus. Picture: AFP

Miley Cyrus slapped with $380m lawsuit

A JAMACIAN artist has filed a US$300 million (A$380 million) lawsuit against pop star Miley Cyrus over her 2013 hit We Can't Stop, saying a key lyric was snatched from him.

On the track about exploring sexual and other personal freedom, Cyrus sings, "And we can't stop / We run things, things don't run we / Don't take nothing from nobody."

Flourgon, a Jamaican dance hall artist who enjoyed hits in the 1980s and 1990s, said the turn of phrase was taken from his 1988 song We Run Things, whose lyrics include, "We run things / Things no run we". Flourgon, whose real name is Michael May, is seeking $380 million from Cyrus, her label Sony Music and her team of songwriters and musicians - a highly ambitious sum that is more than the pop star's estimated net worth.

Miley Cyrus is being sued over lyrics in her hit song We Can’t Stop. Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for NARAS
Miley Cyrus is being sued over lyrics in her hit song We Can’t Stop. Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for NARAS

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in a federal court in New York, said the lyrics belonged "distinctly" to Flourgon with "roots in Jamaican Patois with its own unique phraseology and linguistic combinations that, when translated into English, is not grammatically correct". Flourgon said Cyrus built her career off the single, noting that it came out around the time that the former star of the Disney series Hannah Montana was adopting an edgier, more sexualised public persona.

Miley Cyrus We Can't Stop video

Cyrus "dramatically changed her style of dress and personal vocalisations to reflect the grittiness, aggression and sultriness associated with US-based hip-hop, R&B, urban and Caribbean music," the lawsuit said.

The 25-year-old singer did not immediately respond to the lawsuit, which also seeks to prevent her from further performances of We Can't Stop. The pop starlet has faced accusations in the past of appropriating black culture, especially when she twerked her behind against singer Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2013.

Miley Cyrus is being sued for US $300 million. Picture: Brad Barket/Getty Images/AFP
Miley Cyrus is being sued for US $300 million. Picture: Brad Barket/Getty Images/AFP

We Can't Stop coincidentally only reached number two on the US singles chart because it was held back by Thicke's Blurred Lines, which was targeted in a landmark lawsuit.

Thicke and co-writer Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay more than $7 million to the estate of Marvin Gaye after a jury found similarities to his song Got to Give It Up. But a judge recently rejected a lawsuit revolving around lyrics against Taylor Swift, saying that the words in her song Shake It Off were too banal for copyright infringement.


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