You don’t have to know anything about music to notice the astonishing similarities between “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” one of the best-known songs by British rock group Black Sabbath, and an older tune recorded by Brazilian singer Vanusa.

“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” was released in December 1973 and went on to become an instant classic. Four months earlier, however, Vanusa—a singer who has fallen into obscurity over the past 20 years—released her self-titled album with one track in English, titled “What to Do.” You’ll have trouble saying which is which before the vocals kick in.

</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/321305152&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true"></iframe> <iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/152430352&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true"></iframe> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>The case is an odd one because Vanusa is not exactly well-known worldwide. But she is for Brazilians, who grew accustomed to hearing the blonde singer lending her voice to melodramatic love songs. The fact that she recorded a bonafide heavy metal track has blindsided many Brazilian music lovers.</p> <p>Some details in the whole affair give fuel to accusations of plagiarism against the British group. Guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi had hit writer’s block at the time, and the band was unable to record a new album. “I panicked because I didn&#8217;t have a single idea about what to write. It might have been the drugs, it could have been the pressure, but either way I felt it was my fault,” he admitted in a 2013 <a href="https://www.blabbermouth.net/news/black-sabbaths-tony-iommi-and-geezer-butler-to-take-in-conversation-at-50-years-exhibition/">interview</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>And then, one day, out of the blue, the band had a riff. “We almost thought that we were finished as a band &#8230; Once Tony came out with the initial riff for &#8216;Sabbath Bloody Sabbath&#8217; we went &#8216;We&#8217;re baaaack,” said bassist Geezer Butler in an interview from 2001.</p> <h2>Coincidence or plagiarism?&nbsp;</h2> <p>The riffs, as well as some vocal parts, seem way too similar.</p> <p>But Vanusa, who would be the likeliest candidate to take offense, is the last one trying to inflame the affair. “I think it was indeed a musical coincidence. I heard their song for the first time about five years ago, and I was convinced that they didn’t copy me—nor did my songwriters copy them,” she told me.</p> <p>The 68-year-old singer (the same age as original Black Sabbath lead singer Ozzy—another coincidence) says she won’t take matters to court. But the controversy has had an effect on her life, as “What to Do” will be in her live repertoire for the first time. “This song has never made into my set; it was somehow lost. But a lot of people are now asking me to play it, and do you know what? I love it! My band and I are rehearsing it and we should play it live soon,” she said.

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SocietyAug 10, 2019

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BY Rodrigo Durão Coelho

Rodrigo is a journalist since 1997, and has been published by the BBC, UOL, plus55 and Carta Capital.