Interpolating someone else’s music is different to sampling it, but it can be just as controversial. Just ask Drake, who’s now being accused by Pet Shop Boys of “singing the chorus of West End Girls” in new song All The Parties without crediting the duo or asking for their permission.
A huge synth-pop hit in 1984, West End Girls’ chorus twice repeats the phrase “In a West End town, a dead end world; The East End boys and West End girls,” throwing in another “West End girls” at the end.
In All The Parties, meanwhile - which also features Chief Keef - Drake’s heavily processed voice uses a very similar melody to sing, “In this six side town, a dead end world; East End boys and West End girls, yeah,” (jump to 2:37 to hear it) before going on to repeat the second line. The phrasing has strong echoes of West End Girls, too.
As things stand, Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe aren’t among the eight credited writers of All The Parties, which is included on Drake’s new album For All The Dogs (Drake has yet to comment on the matter). It remains to be seen if this will change.
Interpolation cases can sometimes get very complicated. Beyonce’s track, Energy, which featured on her 2022 album Renaissance, originally featured a vocal refrain that interpolated Kelis’s 2003 hit Milkshake. Although the writers of the track - Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (AKA The Neptunes) - were credited, Beyonce later removed this part of the vocal after Kelis complained that she hadn’t been contacted to give her permission.
Right Said Fred, on the other hand, were happy to be credited as co-writers of Taylor Swift’s 2017 single Look What You Made Me Do. Band members Richard Fairbrass, Fred Fairbrass, and Rob Manzoli were contacted shortly before the song’s release and asked if a "big, contemporary female artist who hasn't released anything for a while," could use a portion of their 1991 song I’m Too Sexy. They said yes and, presumably, enjoyed a significant payday.