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A rising American country singer has been accused of borrowing the iconic guitar riff from New Zealand group OMC's worldwide hit How Bizarre.

New Zealand-based music blogger Peter McLennan has highlighted striking similarities between a guitar line in singer Kristen Kelly's debut single Ex-Old Man and the riff penned by late OMC frontman Pauly Fuemana for his 1995 song.

Kelly is a rising country singer from Texas who is about to release her debut album.

Fuemana, who died in January 2010, was known mainly for the success of How Bizarre, which reached No. 1 in Australia, Canada and Ireland.

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It set lyrics drawn from Fuemana's South Auckland upbringing to an upbeat rhythm and the distinctive guitar riff echoed by Kelly in Ex-Old Man.

When contacted for comment, Simon Grigg - the owner of the record label which published How Bizarre - said the issue had been referred to the US and he couldn't comment.

Sony Music were investigating whether Kelly had the rights to use the riff.

Listen to Kristen Kelly's Ex-Old Man (skip to the two minute mark to hear the guitar line in question):

And check out OMC's classic How Bizarre:

- Herald online