Country superstar Carrie Underwood was introduced to a much wider audience when she snagged the gig of singing the Sunday Night Football theme song. Her hit “Game On” was heard by football fans across the nation and beyond — and they got the opportunity to see the blonde bombshell singing it before games, week after week.
Now, according to TMZ, a singer-songwriter named Heidi Merrill is claiming that Underwood actually stole a song she had written. Merrill already has one sports-centric song success under her belt with a song titled “Cornhusker Strong” back in 2015. With one sports hit under her belt and her foot in the door of the sports world, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity and write another song. After all, if “Cornhusker Strong” did well, surely she could achieve success with another song. So, she penned “Game On” and ended up releasing the song on YouTube in March 2017.
Merrill claims she met Underwood’s producer at an event in Nashville just a few months later, in August 2017, and asked if Underwood might want to use her song for the Sunday Night Football show open. Underwood would perform it, but it would be Merrill’s song — so, presumably, she would be financially compensated for the deal. Apparently, Underwood’s producer Mark Bright said that Underwood wasn’t interested in the song at the time.
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Indianapolis was incredible tonight! I had an especially great time singing #TheChampion with Erica McCall @birdstheword_24 of the @wnba @indianafever !!! She crushed it! Special thanks to Erica and her teammates for the support! You ladies are true inspirations and I will forever be in your corner! ❤️???? ????: @_amandapyoung
Then, about a year later, in September 2018, Underwood’s team began promoting a new theme song for Sunday Night Football. Eventually, when the song the team had been teasing was released, it was titled “Game On” — the exact same title Merrill had given her song.
While the titles matching could have been a coincidence, Merrill said that the similarities didn’t end there. Apparently, Underwood’s new song was very, very similar to the song that Merrill had presented to the singer’s team — the one they had turned down. The songs were too similar for Merrill to ignore, so she decided to sue Underwood, her producer, NBC, the NFL, and others, according to The Blast.
Merrill is also using a previous lawsuit to help her case, in which Underwood and Bright were accused of stealing elements of someone’s song for Underwood’s hit “Something in the Water.”
So far, Underwood’s team and the NFL haven’t commented on Merrill’s accusations. Football fans and country music fans alike are likely waiting to see the result of all the drama. Thanks to the fact that Merrill released the song on YouTube, the timeline seems quite clear, but the end result will be up to their respective legal teams to figure out.