For over a decade now, Carrie Underwood has been the melodic heartbeat of Sunday nights for football fans, serving as the voice behind the long-running NFL theme song. She took over Faith Hill back in 2013 and became the new NFL theme song player. With her powerhouse vocals and commanding stage presence, she has become synonymous with football for many fans.
But like any significant play in the game, there is a backstory,. And it is not all touchdowns.
The “Too Similar” Tune: Heidi Merrill’s Claim
Singer-songwriter Heidi Merrill is not a household name like Underwood. But in 2017, she hoped to change that. With dreams of her tune becoming the soundtrack to football nights, Merrill submitted her own version of “Game On” to Underwood’s producer for consideration. It was a shot in the dark, a Hail Mary pass if you will, but one she hoped would pay off.
However, the next year, when Underwood released her rendition of “Game On” as the official theme song, it did not take long for Merrill and her team to cry foul. They alleged that Underwood’s song was not just similar. It was eerily, unsettlingly familiar.
The Play-by-Play: Breaking Down the Lawsuit
Merrill and her team were not just going after Underwood. They set their sights higher, implicating the NFL and NBC in the legal tussle as well. Their claim was that Underwood’s “Game On” borrowed heavily from Merrill’s version without any acknowledgment or credit.
Now, music lawsuits are hardly a new phenomenon. From the iconic ‘Blurred Lines’ case to numerous other disputes, the line between inspiration and imitation has always been blurry. But the accusations here were not just about a similar chord progression or a shared melody. According to Merrill and her team, multiple elements of their track seemed to have found their way into Underwood’s theme song.
Fourth Quarter Twist: The Quiet End to a Noisy Dispute
In any game, there are twists and turns, unexpected moves that keep fans on the edge of their seats. And this legal matchup was no different. Just when it seemed like the lawsuit might play out in a public, potentially messy battle, Merrill decided to drop it in 2019.
While the specifics remain behind closed doors, what is clear is that Merrill chose not to proceed. Perhaps it was the daunting prospect of battling such big names in court or maybe a realization of the challenges in proving the claims. Whatever the reason, the controversy ended not with a dramatic courtroom showdown, but with a quiet retreat from the field.
Today, as fans continue to enjoy their Sunday night football, few may remember the controversy that once surrounded its anthem. Carrie Underwood remains the undisputed voice of the NFL theme song, belting out “Game On” with gusto each week.
But for those in the know, the story serves as a reminder of the complexities of the music industry and how, sometimes, the game is not played on the field, but behind the scenes.