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The Last of Us Part 2 dev apologizes for uncredited Ellie song

Singer-songwriter Lotte Kestner accused Naughty Dog of creating a replica of her cover

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The Last of Us Part 2 character Ellie in the dark (but face lit) holding a guitar Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Naughty Dog vice president and The Last of Us Part 2 creative director Neil Druckmann apologized on Twitter Tuesday night for an “oversight” that left an indie songwriter’s cover of New Order’s “True Faith” uncredited in the game’s promotional materials.

Anna-Lynne Williams, a singer and songwriter who performs under the name Lotte Kestner, tweeted at Naughty Dog and Druckmann last week, alleging the company used her version of the cover song in an extended trailer for the game. The trailer featured Ellie, voiced by Ashley Johnson, singing a stylized cover of New Order’s “True Faith,” similar to Kestner’s. The original “True Faith” is an upbeat synth song, whereas Kestner’s cover has a slow, acoustic melody.

“‘Hey, are you aware that the True Faith cover you put in your Last of Us 2 trailer is a replica of my cover that came out 10 years ago?” Kestner asked in a now-deleted tweet. “I wrote original parts not in the original song that are copied exactly by whoever covered it. I am heartbroken.”

Kestner’s original tweet gained a lot of traction on Twitter, where fans — of both Kestner and The Last of Us — debated, sometimes with toxicity, over the claim. Others brought up a similar case between musician Jonathan Coulton and Fox’s use of a song similar to Coulton “Baby Got Back” cover on the TV show Glee. Copyright issues regarding cover songs can be challenging, depending on rights first acquired by an artist when creating and recording a cover song.

On Tuesday night, Druckmann tweeted that “Ellie’s rendition of ‘True Faith’ was inspired by Lotte Kestner’s haunting cover of the song. Due to an oversight on our end, she wasn’t credited as intended. Our deep apologizes — we are rectifying this ASAP. We have that @lottekestner receives the recognition she deserves.”

The YouTube description for The Last of Us Part 2’s extended trailer has since been updated to include credit to Kestner’s cover song — “This rendition of ‘True Faith’ was inspired by Lotte Kestner’s haunting cover of the same song:”

Kestner tweeted in support of Druckmann’s message shortly after. “So proud this music has found a home in such an amazing project,” she wrote. “Thanks to Neil, Naughty Dog and everyone at Sony.”

Kestner has not responded to Polygon’s request for comment.

Update: A Sony representative issued the following statement to Polygon:

A trailer for The Last of Us Part II included a cover of “True Faith” with vocals performed by Ashley Johnson, who plays Ellie. Credit to Lotte Kestner, whose cover of “True Faith” inspired our recording, was inadvertently omitted. We reached out to Lotte Kestner and are taking steps to ensure she is properly credited.

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