White Stripes vs. Air Force Reserve ad: Musician addresses controversy: 'It's my responsibility'

With the White Stripes threatening “strong action” against a U.S. Air Force Reserve Super Bowl ad that they say ripped off their song “Fell in Love With a Girl,” both the Air Force Reserve and the company that produced the spot have denied knowingly copying the Stripes’ tune. Now a musician who worked on the ad, which has since been pulled from TV and the Web, is taking the blame — but he, too, insists any wrongdoing was unintentional. “It’s my responsibility,” Kem Kraft tells EW. “I’m the one who composed the music. And I had no idea it was like that [song].”

Kraft, 56, who earns his living in Salt Lake City composing and recording music for advertisements and films, was hired to work on the Air Force Reserve ad around last Christmas. “They said they wanted some high-energy music, and I gave them three demos, all of them a little bit different. They asked me to tweak the one that they preferred, so I beefed up the drums or whatnot, added some echo to my guitar part.”

Kraft says he was “absolutely” surprised to hear of the Stripes’ accusations this week. “I went to the website and I go, ‘Yeah, that kinda sounds close.’ [But] I don’t even listen to those guys.” Asked if he had ever heard “Fell in Love With a Girl” prior to the controversy, Kraft replies, “God, I might have somehow or somewhere. I don’t know. That’s not the kind of music I listen to.”

Now Kraft says he’d like to speak with Jack White to clear things up. “I would say, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it sounded like your song. I had no intention whatsoever of copying you. If you need me to pay the money back that I made, which was 2,000 bucks, to you, I will do that if you want me to.’ This has gotten way out of proportion.”

White Stripes declare war on the U.S. Air Force Reserve
White Stripes vs. U.S. Air Force Reserve ad: Who’s to blame?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (20 total) Add your comment
  • chris

    Strangely enough I believe him.

    • minni

      the ad is up on youtube, and it is clear that mr. kraft did NOT compose it.

  • TK

    Can someone at EW post clips so we can compare? I didn’t see the Superbowl ad.

    That said, the song was also covered by Joss Stone in an entirely differed genre of music (with White Stripes approval) and was the song that basically broke the White Stripes so the song is not obscure.

    If the songs sound alike, I don’t think White Stripes are blowing anything out of proportion. It’s their legal right to protect their copyright.

    • Ellipsian

      I would argue that the song IS pretty durn obscure. It didn’t even crack the mainstream Hot 100 here in the US, and Joss Stone’s cover didn’t chart here at ALL. Unless one were following the cutting edge of alt-rock in 2001, one could very easily not have heard the original. [Also, though the Stripes may have liked Joss’ cover, she didn’t have to get “approval” to cover it, she just had to compensate the songwriter(s) if she made money from it.]

      • JV

        For the record, the video (which includes the song!) was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2002 MTV VMA’s and actually won for Breakthrough Video, Special Effects, and Editing. So, not entirely obscure. (Again, the song plays during the video.)

      • Brian

        It may be obscure to the generations older than gen-x’ers, but everyone else, if they have had a TV or the internet I guarantee has heard this song. It’s not obscure. Indie rock is not cutting edge like it was before the year 2000. Indie rock is very ubiquitous, mainstream, on TV, etc.

    • Lily

      Unless we’re in England, that song wasn’t a hit, but the video was pretty viral.
      I guess this guy totally copied the song. I’m sorry, but it sounded way too similar to be an accident. But that song is totally a Fell In Love With a Girl rip off.

  • Habitant

    ” That’s not the kind of music I listen to…”

    But strangely enough, that’s the kind of music he composes?

    The problem with backing up a lie is the hole you dig by doing so…

  • MultiPass

    Criminal. He should have been paid a lot more than that for a national commercial being run on the superbowl. Ridiculous how unknown musicians are exploited like that. Knowing Jack White, he’ll probably drop the suit and send the guy some cash and the entire White Striped catalog. (on 8 track)

    • JV

      Vinyl…always vinyl

  • CC

    I’ve heard the song on the ad and there is no doubt it’s a complete rip off of the song…. It’s not even just the chord progression…. The lead guitar on the song phrases the lyrics for fell in love with a girl almost perfectly.

  • Mark

    Who cares. White stripes are anti-American anyway. We should take any rights they have away because they are non-patriotic. They don’t care about the people that make this country what it is then screw them. They should be PROUD the military used there song. Whatever, don’t support the war. Got it. Don’t take it out on the troops. Punks.

    • Dan

      “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.”

    • John

      “Punks”? That’s the best you can do? How old are you, 80? Why are you reading this site? Get a life.

    • JV

      Mark – have you ever considered that there is really no body in America that do not support our troops. Many people support the troops by being against the wars – trying to spare them injury and death for a situation not worth their lives. Questioning the government’s use of our troops is one of the most patriotic things you can do. I am proud of our military and care about how they are used.

    • AnotherMark

      Mark, I would argue your stance of denying any American full use of the freedoms described in the 1st amendment of our Constitution would characterize YOU as anti-American. Why do you hate America, America hater?!

      The chord progression AND the lead line melody both coincide with the White Stripes track which has had wide airplay on radio, TV over the past 9 years. It would be hard to prove ignorance especially because commercial music composers (I am one as well) do a lot of listening to music that is out there even if it is not our chosen favorite music… That said, the composer’s suggestion about how to settle things makes him a standup guy for sure.

  • frank. r

    that guy works for a company that is known for ripping off tracks.

  • Jim

    BS BS BS BS BS BS BS BS BS. What a rip-off artist.

  • Hahaha

    No wonder why the lying military hired this liar. Dude you ripped the song off; please get a grip on reality.

  • 葵花绒


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