S'pore songwriter denies hit track's plagiarism claims

The hit song Your Name Engraved Herein has been accused of plagiarism, but home-grown songwriter Tan Boon Wah - one of its three composers and lyricists - said his conscience is clear.

The controversy began last Saturday when Taiwanese television host Jacky Wu claimed the song - which was performed by Taiwanese singer Crowd Lu and released last year - had plagiarised British singer Richard Sanderson's Reality (1980).

Other netizens also claimed there were similarities between Your Name Engraved Herein and Chinese pianist Jinbao's song Liberty Hill.

Tan is contracted to Warner Chappell Music as a songwriter. He worked with Malaysian collaborators Keon Chia and Hooi Yuan Teng on the track, which was also the theme song for a Taiwanese movie of the same name.

In an interview with Chinese-language evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, Tan recounted how he wrote the song's chorus melody.

"I was brushing my teeth one morning when a melody suddenly appeared in my mind. I just recorded it with my mobile phone and did not refer to any works."

He added that he did not even know of the song Liberty Hill.

Tan said he usually writes songs by recording the melody during his moments of inspiration, instead of sitting in front of the computer and referencing other works.

"I have written more than 20 songs and do not repeat myself.

"I Don't Want To Let You Know is very popular, but I didn't write more songs of the same style and challenge myself to write songs of different styles," he said, referring to the song performed by Taiwanese singer Where Chou.

Tan, who is also a lawyer, added: "I am not an artiste, and I write songs out of interest and not to earn money."

He said he was a little surprised that the allegations had surfaced only recently, a year after the song's release.

He added that he had spoken with Chia and Hooi, who have also taken to social media to deny the allegations of plagiarism.

Tan stressed that all three had just wanted to write a "nice, warm song".

They will let the company handle the matter, he concluded. "I respect everyone's opinions, but I have a clear conscience and will let time and my works prove it."

Warner Chappell Music released a legal letter on Sunday denying the allegations.

Your Name Engraved Herein was named Song of the Year at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards on Aug 21 and won Best Original Film Song at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards last November.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2021, with the headline 'S'pore songwriter denies hit track's plagiarism claims'. Subscribe