After Taylor Swift famously removed all of her music from Spotify in November 2014, it was strange and shocking when one of her biggest hits, “I Knew You Were Trouble,” popped back up on the streaming service a few days ago. Even stranger to see it credited to the Welsh alt-rock band Lostprophets, best known for the single “Last Train Home” and for having a lead singer who’s currently serving time for child pornography.
As Gizmodo explains, the recording that appeared on Spotify wasn’t a cover song. It was definitely Taylor Swift’s “Trouble,” even though it was attributed to Lostprophets and listed former lead singer Ian Watkins as a copyright holder.
Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes investigated how the mislabeled song made it to Spotify in the first place, and traced it back to YouTuber Jared Brown, who “has a weird habit of uploading songs by one artist and attributing it to another.” Brown’s channel contains the audio of “I Knew You Were Trouble” with the same fake Lostprophets album cover that appeared on Spotify — the artwork is from a kids’ show called Scaredy Squirrel, for some reason. (And why Lostprophets? Taylor Swift may have theoretically “lost profits” when she shunned Spotify, but she’s doing okay.)
Brown’s video doesn’t explain how the song ended up back on Spotify, though. It only has 1,000 views, and it’s not as if some unknown YouTuber can upload songs directly — there’s a screening process, and this track somehow slipped through it.
A Spotify spokesperson gave Estes an explanation via email, albeit an incomplete one: The track came from a “third party provider,” who’s now in big trouble for apparently manipulating the system.
Is this a weird accident caused by some failed algorithm, or is someone — perhaps Jared Brown? — a brilliant intentional troll? No one seems to know, but either explanation makes for an amusing commentary on the gatekeepers who control access to major music-distribution platforms, be they human or software.