Rebellious pop star Avril Lavigne is being sued by members of the 1970s rock band The Rubinos for her hit song “Girlfriend.”
Songwriters Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer claim in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco that Lavigne and her co-writers sampled their 1979 song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” originally performed by The Rubinos.
The Rubinos wrote the theme song for the movie Revenge of the Nerds and toured from 1975 to 1983. The band even had a hit with their cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “I think We’re Alone Now.”
Similarities between the songs have been mentioned before the lawsuit. Stephen Thomas Erlewin, a music critic, published a review on Billboard magazine’s Web site that said the chorus of “Girlfriend” was a “total lift from the Rubinos’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.'”
In a statement made Thursday Dunbar said, “We are not so naïve as to chalk it up to some sort of cosmic coincidence. The lyric, the meter, the rhythm they’re identical.”
Half a million people watched various clips highlighting similarities between the two songs on videos posted on YouTube on Friday.
The first court date is set for August 28. A spokeswoman for Lavigne declined to comment.