Delta Week

Remembering Delta Goodrem's Brief but Heated Feud with Arcade Fire

Way back in 2012, pop titan Delta Goodrem and indie legends Arcade Fire clashed. The music world was never the same.

by Shaad D’Souza
21 March 2018, 4:38am

L: Wikimedia Commons / R: Supplied

It's Delta Week on Noisey Australia! To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of her seminal debut Innocent Eyes, we'll be running Delta Goodrem-related writing every day.

Delta Goodrem is a paragon of grace, beauty, style and sophistication in the Australian music scene. Her image is squeaky clean, even now that she’s released a song about how much she loves fucking, and she’s never really been involved in anything particularly controversial, save maybe an Apple Music ad that was criticised for promoting unsafe driving (in the same month that she found herself with a couple of speeding tickets, no less!)

Anyway, the point here is that Delta is, in many ways, one of the few pop stars without any major controversy attached to her name.

Almost.

Delta has a smear on her record, and it’s a big one: her 2012 feud with Arcade Fire. In 2012, Australia’s pop princess was caught up in a cold war with the indie rock band over similarities between her single “Sitting on Top of the World” and their classic “Rebellion (Lies)”. The feud has never been fully resolved, but the implications are still felt in the worlds of Australian pop and North American indie rock to this day. Today, on day 3 of #DeltaWeek 2018, let’s look back on the brief feud that changed music forever.

September 14th, 2004: Arcade Fire Releases “Rebellion (Lies)”

On September 14th, 2004, Arcade Fire released their debut album, Funeral. Widely praised when it was released, Funeral was home to what would become one of Arcade Fire’s most popular tracks, the song that still closes their live sets to this day: “Rebellion (Lies)”. It’s an iconic time-and-place indie track, one that was used in enough ads and TV shows that it was soon culturally ubiquitous.

April 5th, 2012: Delta Goodrem Releases “Sitting On Top Of The World”

Eight years later, Delta Goodrem, former Neighbours star and Australian pop icon, released “Sitting on Top of the World,” the first single from her fourth studio album Child of the Universe. Eventually nominated for Song of the Year at the 2012 ARIAs, “Sitting on Top of the World” nearly got to number one on the charts, but was held off by Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” The single did, however, go multi-platinum.

April 29th, 2012: Musician Darren Cross Finds Similarities Between “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Sitting on Top of the World”

A few weeks after the release of “Sitting on Top of the World,” former Gerling member Darren Cross noted similarities between Delta’s song and Arcade Fire’s. In a blog post that has now suspiciously been deleted, Cross wondered whether Arcade Fire could potentially sue Delta for copyright infringement. Many fans on online forums like FasterLouder and Mess+Noise began to chime in, suggesting that Delta had ripped off the band. Someone made a mashup of the two songs, and honestly? It sounds pretty good!

April 30th, 2012: Delta Goodrem Fans on DeltaDaily.com Call Arcade Fire “No Names”

Delta’s fans are known to be a fierce and loyal group, so naturally they were quick to pounce on anyone suggesting that Delta ripped off Arcade Fire. DeltaDaily.com, Delta’s official fan forum, no longer exists, but according to quotes from FasterLouder, fans on DeltaDaily were skeptical that Delta would rip off a “no name” band like Arcade Fire, and also suggested that Arcade Fire didn’t deserve their Album of the Year Grammy. Debatable, but not an entirely unpopular opinion.

May 19th, 2012: Delta Goodrem Says She “Hadn’t Heard” of Arcade Fire

You’ve probably been wondering: where’s the heat in this story? Where’s the viciousness? Is this even real beef? Well, here’s Delta’s kill shot.

At a vitamin launch in late May, news.com.au asked Delta what she thought of the similarities between her song and “Rebellion (Lies),” to which she replied “I hadn’t heard of “Rebellion (Lies)” until that moment and then I checked it out and was blown away. They’re incredible.”

There’s a lot to unpack here:

1. Delta decided to pull a Mariah and act as if she’d never heard the most ubiquitous indie song of all time, proving herself to be colder and more calculating than anyone could ever have expected. That’s vicious, Delta!

2. Delta starts talking about “Rebellion (Lies)” and then says “They’re incredible.” Notice that? “ They’re incredible.” Not “ It’s incredible,” not “ Arcade Fire are incredible,” but “ They’re incredible.” Does Delta think the band is called “Rebellion (Lies)”? Does she even know what the reporters interviewing her are talking about? Who’s to say!

In all, this is an incredible way to handle a controversy: act kind, act gracious, and slyly deliver a devastating burn.

June 1st, 2017: Arcade Fire Sign to Columbia, a Subsidiary of Sony (Delta’s Label)

Five years after Delta’s conflict-ending blow, she got another win: Arcade Fire signed to Columbia, a subsidiary of Sony, essentially meaning they’re now signed to the same label. I don’t know what this means for sure and I don’t have much-to-any knowledge of “legalese” but one has to assume it means that Arcade Fire can’t sue Delta for copyright infringement. Checkmate, motherfuckers. Delta owns you now. Delta owns all of us.

Arcade Fire declined to comment on this piece.

Shaad is the editor of Noisey AU. Follow him on Twitter.