Was Beyonc?’s Billboard Music Awards Performance Plagiarized?

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As Beyonc?‘s show-stopping 2011 Billboard Music Awards performance spread across the internet yesterday, Vulture noticed that an eagle-eyed fan recognized the screen-projection portion of the choreography as strikingly similar to a performance by Italian television personality Lorella Cuccarini at the 2010 Sanremo Festival. This enterprising viewer placed the performances side by side in one video, for comparison’s sake (viewable above). But upon watching the Cuccarini performance alone, the suggestion of plagiarism gets a lot more complicated:

The music sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? In fact, Cuccarini is not competing in Sanremo (the Italian intranational equivalent of Eurovision), but is performing a number from a stage show in which she stars?namely, an Italian update to Bob Carlton‘s 1989 West End jukebox musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet. This performance alone features a medley of “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Fever,” “Walk This Way,” and The Prodigy‘s “Breathe,” among others. And Cuccarini aside, the revamped show was largely a launching pad for the finalists and winners of the 2009 season of Italy’s X Factor.

Of course, European pop stars are sometimes more fond of visual effects such as these. (For another example, watch the virtual-Busby Berkeley dancers in profile onscreen during an absolutely fantastic performance at Sweden’s P3 Guld Awards.) So it stands to reason that a performance focusing solely on Beyonc? would draw inspiration from a European source like this. Nonetheless, the number of visual similarities seems more than coincidental.

Kenzo Digital, the visual designer for Beyonc??s performance, has not yet commented on the similarity, but it is possible that the same company designed both performances (though no such confirmation has yet surfaced).

Beyonc? performed a somewhat different choreography for the song (during which she handed out “diplomas” to “graduates”) for Oprah?s ?Farewell Spectacular Part 1,? which taped before the Billboard Awards, but only aired yesterday: