In the summer of 2013, “Blurred Lines” burst onto the stage. It was the number one dance hit and debate point of that season. As controversy grew to an almost unbearable point, radio stations very suddenly stopped playing it just in time for the Fall Season. It was safe to assume that “Blurred Lines” would be totally forgotten by 2016.
The controversy started with the music video for the song; a bunch of naked women dancing and teetering on high heels for the pleasure and view of the primary men in the video – singers Robin Thicke and co-songwriter producer Pharrell Williams. The video with the scandalous women and bucket load of innuendos was claimed to be too sexy, as well as highly sexist and degrading to women.
As the song got more and more airplay, people also called out the song on it’s lyrics, claiming that the lyrics – specifically the line “I know you want it” -promoted rape culture. Perhaps that was why it disappeared from the airwaves as quickly as it had popped on.
But that wasn’t all the controversy that the song got. Robin Thicke did a bunch of interviews in 2013, claiming that he and Pharrell Williams wrote the song and were heavily inspired by Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” Robin Thicke has made a large point in his career of saying how much he looked up to Marvin Gaye and admired him.
Marvin Gaye’s remaining family has noticed the similarities too, because they quickly went in and sued Thicke and Williams for ripping off the 1977 hit song. They even created a mash up of the two songs just so that it could be noted how similar they were, and they are very similar (almost identical if you play the two songs at the same time in separate youtube windows)
The mash-ups made Robin Thicke uncomfortable, and after a little bit, he eventually admitted this:
“To be honest, that’s the only part where — I was high on vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted — I — I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit. So I started kind of convincing myself that I was a little more part of it than I was and I — because I didn’t want him — I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song.”
Williams was also questioned, asked various things – such as trying to prove that he could read sheet music and compose songs, and asked the accounts that lead to the writing of “Blurred Lines” as well as why he would be so generous as to share writing credits and 18-22% of the royalties with Robin Thicke. Williams seemed unable to provide a confident answer to any of it, but did admit that he was the primary force behind “Blurred Lines.”