Beyoncé Hits Back at Right Said Fred for Their ‘Disparaging’ Claim She Didn’t Seek Permission for ‘Sexy’ Interpolation

Beyoncé Hits Back Right Said Fred
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Right Said Fred has officially stirred not just the Beyhive but the Bey. Beyoncé herself, who rarely comments on such matters publicly, has issued a statement vehemently taking issue with the duo’s reported claim that her camp never sought permission to use “I’m Too Sexy” as a part of her recent “Alien Superstar” track.

Right Said Fred’s allegations, as reported in the U.K. newspaper the Sun, are “erroneous and incredibly disparaging,” Beyoncé said in a statement issued to E! Entertainment News.

Beyoncé pointed out that her track technically does not actually sample theirs, as the duo was quoted as contending, but is an interpolation in which “I’m Too Sexy” is essentially paraphrased through a re-recording of the elements used. Thus, she says, permission only needed to be sought from the songwriting publisher, not the holders of the original “Sexy” recording — and it was asked for and granted.

“Permission was not only granted for its use, but they publicly spoke of their gratitude for being on the album,” Beyoncé said in the statement she issued Friday to E!. “For their song, there was no sound recording use, only the composition was utilized. Permission was asked of their publisher on May 11, 2022 and the publisher approved the use on June 15, 2022. They were paid for the usage in August, 2022.”

Furthermore, she added, Fred and Richard Fairbrass, the brothers who make up Right Said Fred, properly received co-writer credit as well as being paid for the use of their song.

Yet the duo claimed the use of their composition came as complete news to them when the “Renaissance” album came out in July, suggesting that, if Beyonce’s very specific account of how things went down is accurate, the brothers may want to set up better lines of communication with their publisher. (A lapse in such communications would not be the first time this has happened — other artists have also claimed to have been surprised to learn their publisher signed off on some form of licensing.)

Right Said Fred blamed Beyoncé for not knowing about the usage, however. “Normally the artist approaches us, but Beyoncé didn’t because she is such an arrogant person,” they were quoted as saying in the Sun four days ago. “She just had probably thought, ‘Come and get me,’ so we heard about it after the fact when you did. But everyone else, Drake and Taylor Swift [who also interpolated the song into their work], they came to us.”

While the duo didn’t exactly deny that they had been given co-writer credit, they said money coming in would be negligible considering the huge number of credited writers splitting the pie with Beyonce. “To use our melody, they need our permission so they send us the demo and we approve it and if so, we get a co-write credit,” they told the Sun. “With this Beyoncé thing, there are 22 writers. It’s ridiculous, so we would get about 40 [pounds].”

Yet Beyoncé refutes that in her statement to E!., claiming that Right Said Fred is set to get a substantial portion of the song’s royalties, collectively more than even she is getting.

“Furthermore, the copyright percentage of the Right Said Fred writers with respect to the use of ‘I’m Too Sexy’ is a substantial portion of the composition,” she said in her statement. “Collectively the Right Said Fred writers own more than any other singular writer and have co-writer credit. This accusation is false.”

Said the brothers in their Sun interview: “We cant stop it. There is nothing we can do. It is shit… “You are going to get into a conversation with someone who has a lot more presence and power and money than we do. And that won’t go well. It’s best to let it go. If you’re not careful you spend your life looking back. We keep looking forward the whole time.”

This marks the second time an interpolated artist has complained of not knowing about the usage of a song prior to it showing up on “Renaissance.” Kelis’ 2003 hit “Milkshake” had a very minor — and properly credited — interpolation on the album, but after the singer complained, Beyoncé reissued a version of the track that eliminated any trace of the Kelis song. Beyoncé did not respond publicly to that complaint.

From Variety US