More than a year after “Blurred Lines” became a massive success, the song is generating more controversy than ever.
Upon its initial release, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams came under fire for objectifying women in the lyrics. Now, both the singer and producer have been brought before a federal judge to answer questions regarding the song’s authorship, song credit, drug abuse, and their promotion of the single.
The court appearance comes after Marvin Gaye’s children suggested the song was a rip-off of their father’s hit song, “Got to Give It Up.” Thicke, Williams, and the song’s co-writer, T.I., have filed a counter-suit to protect the song, which they say is original.
While most of the court documents between the two parties have been kept private, a federal judge has ordered that the celebrities’ deposition transcripts be made public. Both Robin and Pharrell reluctantly gave their depositions last April.
Richard Busch, the attorney representing the Gaye family, attempted to play a mash-up of the two songs for Thicke to hear, while the singer begged him to turn it off.
“It’s so hard to listen to it,” he said. “It’s like nails on a fucking chalkboard. This is like Stanley Kubrick’s movie Clockwork Orange. Where he has to sit there and watch. Mozart would be rolling in his grave right now.”
If you think that’s strange, wait ’til you hear what else Robin had to say when he took the stand.
He was later asked to explain all the times he said in the media that Marvin Gaye was an inspiration to him. More specifically, the time he told GQ, “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.”
Now Robin admits that’s not how it went down.
Thicke revealed under oath that he was far less involved in the creation of the song than he portrayed himself to be.
“I was jealous and I wanted some of the credit. I tried to take credit for it later because Williams wrote the whole thing pretty much by himself and I was envious of that.”
When asked if he was present during the writing of “Blurred Lines,” Robin said, “I was present. Obviously, I sang it. I had to be there.”
He was then asked whether or not he was actually there when Pharrell created the beat like he previously claimed.
“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 that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song.”
Robin also added that he was just “lucky enough to be in the room” when Williams created the song.
Following the deposition, he did interviews with major outlets like Billboard, where he continued to repeat the untrue story about the song’s origins, saying he “thought it would help sell records.” He also said he was struggling to remember all the comments he made to the media about the song because he “had a drug and alcohol problem for the year” and “didn’t do a sober interview.”
“I told her the truth. That’s why she left me,” he said.
Though he had very little to do with the creation of the hit single, Thicke was granted 18-22 percent of publishing royalties and given credit for co-writing the song. Why, you ask?
“This is what happens every day in our industry,” said Pharrell in his deposition. “You know, people are made to look like they have much more authorship in the situation than they actually do. So that’s where the embellishment comes in.”
Unfortunately, Williams’ interview also got off on the wrong foot. The musician/producer was asked if he can read music, to which he replied yes, but when shown a transcript of the song and asked to identify the notes and durations he said, “I’m not comfortable.” Pharrell repeated this response eight times before the attorney stopped pressing.
When asked whether or not he’s inspired by Gaye’s music, he said:
“He’s and Aries. I respect him.”
He said he didn’t intend to make a song that sounded anything like Gaye’s music, before walking Busch through his creative process at the time.
“When I work with a person, I think about three things,” he said. “I think about the energy that they’re coming with, but this wasn’t the case because Thicke wasn’t there yet. But usually, I think about the energy and what they come in with, like what’s on their mind, you know, argument with a girlfriend, email with the husband, politics, state of the world. People walk in with vibes. They walk in with feelings. That was not one of those days.”
Williams claims he was in the “driver’s seat” during the creation of this song, but gave Robin some credit for his work. Pharrell told the attorney it was “Robin Thicke’s voice” that holds the song together through its various sections.
Robin’s team has since come forward with a statement about his deposition.
“Robin’s moment of personal vulnerability is being exploited in the hope of diverting attention from the obvious weakness of their legal claim,” his attorney, Howard King, said.
Check out their depositions in full here.