It was the song that played at thousands of blue light discos and high school dances across the country in the 1970s, but the John Paul Young classic ‘Love is in the Air’ is making headlines for less than romantic reasons today as it’s at the centre of a nasty court battle.
The songwriters behind the global hit are suing American band Glass Candy over claims they copied the legendary song in their own hit ‘Warm in the Winter’, as well as Air France which used the the Glass Candy song in a 2015 advertising campaign.
Harry Vanda and the late George Young, who died in 2017, wrote the song together in 1977 for heartthrob John Paul Young, who made the song a global hit, peaking at No.3 on the Australian charts. The famous tune later featured in the 1992 Australian drama Strictly Ballroom, endearing it to a whole new generation of Australians.
Now Vanda, George Young’s estate and two Australian copyright bodies have taken action against the American duo Glass Candy, its songwriters Johnny Padgett and Lori Monahan, Kobalt Music Publishing and Air France on alleged copyright infringement, news.com.au reports.
According to Vanda and Young, 2011 hit ‘Warm in the Winter’, which contains the line “love is in the air”, uses the same melody and that the chordal structure of both songs is the same.
Their barrister, Michael Hall SC, played Justice Nye Perram music videos showing John Paul Young performing the hit, Glass Candy performing their song ‘Warm in the Winter’ and and Air France’s advertisement using part of the duo’s version.
“We say the material was deliberately copied with writers very familiar with ‘Love is in the Air’, who had that song in mind when they composed ‘Warm in the Winter’,” he said.
Glass Candy band members Padgett and Monahan claim they had never heard ‘Love is in the Air’ before the copyright case was brought to their attention. Monahan claimed she had heard the phrase in a yoga class and told Padgett, who was writing a song about cliches.
This is the original song ‘Love Is In The Air’:
And this is Glass Candy’s song ‘Warm in the Winter’. (Skip to 0.50 seconds to hear the allegedly copied line and melody.)
This isn’t the first time an Aussie song has been caught up in a court battle. Men At Work’s lead singer Colin Hay was sued in 2009 by Larrikin Music Publishing which claimed the flute line in 1981 hit ‘Down Under’ had been taken from children’s song ‘Kookaburra’. The song had initially been written without the riff, but it was later added in by bandmate Greg Ham during the recording stage.
While Ham was never sued himself – with Hay, EMI Songs Australia and another writer being targeted in the copyright lawsuit – he apparently felt guilty for being the one to have added the short riff in, especially when the band lost the case.