Jack White to Receive Writing Credit After Plagiarism in Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision Winner ‘Toy’

The settlement comes after Universal Music Group said the Israeli’s hit song was too similar to the White Stripes' ‘Seven Nation Army’

Aya Chajut
Aya Chajut
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Netta Barzilai reveling in her May 2018 Eurovision win in Lisbon, and Jack White performing at Britain's Reading Festival in 2004.
Netta Barzilai reveling in her May 2018 Eurovision win in Lisbon, and Jack White performing at Britain's Reading Festival in 2004. Credit: Armando Franca/AP, Yui Mok/AP
Aya Chajut
Aya Chajut

U.S. rock legend Jack White just added a distinctly pop credit to his opus: He will be listed as one of the songwriters of Netta Barzilai’s “Toy,” which won the Eurovision Song Contest last year.

Though the terms of the plagiarism settlement are confidential, White will presumably be entitled to royalties. The settlement was first reported by the Israeli public broadcaster Kan.

From 1997 to 2011, White was the brains behind the White Stripes, the guitar-drum duo for which the Detroit-born guitarist wrote virtually all the songs.

The settlement follows a claim by White’s record label, Universal Music Group, that elements of “Toy” resembled those of the 2003 hit “Seven Nation Army,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s U.S. Alternative Songs list and the U.K. Indie chart.

Anton Bruckner - Symphony No 5 in B flat Major. Watch from minute 21:30.

However, going further back in time and to Austrian composer Anton Bruckner's Fifth Symphony, White’s song, one of the most successful and recognized pop songs ever, is suspiciously similar to the classical piece. Bruckner, one of the world’s greatest composers, died in 1886, at the age of 72.

The abruckner website, which preserves the composer’s heritage, says that “the song containing the iconic guitar riff was written by Jack White. He was a student of classical music, and the opening of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony inspired him in creating the song that became a rock legend.”

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Seven Nation Army

According to the rock band, the song’s famous riff was created while they were staying at a hotel in Australia while on tour there in 2002. White later put some words to it, and the name of the song was what he mistakenly called The Salvation Army as a child.

“Toy” was written by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger.

Last March, two months before Barzilai’s Eurovision victory in Lisbon, Haaretz music critic Ben Shalev wrote that “Toy” reminded him of “Seven Nation Army.”

“Let’s hope Jack White doesn’t hear this song before the Eurovision Song Contest. He may sue,” Shalev added.

In July, Israel Channel 2’s “Good Evening with Guy Pines” reported that Universal had informed Medalie and Beger that they may have violated White’s intellectual property rights over the song.

Barzilai’s manager, Ofer Menahem, said: “No legal claim was received, only a preliminary clarification letter on the matter.”

Medalie told Haaretz last summer that he could not comment on this legal issue. Neither Menahem nor Medalie have commented on the report of the settlement.

Universal is one of the world’s largest recording studios. Its artists include Eminem and Lady Gaga – and in Israel Asaf Avidan and the duo Static and Ben’el Tavori.

In May, shortly after Barzilai won Eurovision, “Toy” went on sale in the United States on the Sony label.

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