2 nov 2021

What happened to Le Tigre, the 2000s cult band accused of plagiarism?

Le Tigre, the American synthpunk-electroclash trio known for their feminist demands and boundless stage energy in the late 90s/2000s, find themselves at the heart of a court case that speaks volumes about the greed of old musical glories.

In 1999, American synthpunk/electroclash trio Le Tigre got the world dancing with their hit single
. At the time, the track seemed typical of the musicians’ sounds and their over-the-top energy, inherited from the riot grrrl movement spearheaded by Kathleen Hanna, the band’s frontwoman, with the Bikini Kill formation in the 90s. Except that, in October 2021, the latter and Johanna Fateman, also a member of Le Tigre, declared that they were facing plagiarism accusations from a forgotten composer demanding a large sum of money.


American singer-songwriter Barry Mann, best known for his cartoon music, sent letters to Le Tigre, claiming that the song Deceptacon infringed his copyright by copying his 1961 hit Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp Bomp). Except that, in the eyes of the ’90s trio, Barry Mann has no reason to accuse them, as his title was itself already copying black doo-wop bands from the late ’50s and early ’60s. This pertinent argument ties in with the debate surroundingElvis Presley and other white singers of those years, who drew cheerfully on black music without always paying sufficient tribute to this culture.


On Monday November 1, the Pitchfork website revealed that the claims are now over. An amicable resolution to the conflict has just been reached, and a confidential agreement has been signed between the two parties. No legal action was taken, and no prejudice was found against the band of punk girls. All we can hope for is that their ultra-danceable hit evoking party, empowerment and politics, , will come back into fashion and, on the occasion of this affair, once again become a feminist anthem on TikTok two decades after its release.