Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines

The legal battles between Robin Thicke and the estate of Marvin Gaye have been going on for a while; they’re bitter and weird, and they’re only heating up. A couple of months ago, Thicke filed a preemptive lawsuit against the Gaye clan, to prevent the Gayes from suing Thicke and to make it legally clear that there were no actionable similarities between Thicke’s massive summer hit “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s classic “Got To Give It Up.” Later, Billboard reported a story that the Gaye family had turned down a six-figure settlement from Thicke. And now the Gaye family is suing the shit out of Thicke and EMI.

As The Hollywood Reporter reports, the Gaye family claims that Thicke stole not only “Blurred Lines” from Gaye but that Thicke’s 2011 single “Love After War” rips off Gaye’s “After The Dance” and that a “Marvin Gaye fixation” runs through Thicke’s entire body of work. The Gaye family is also suing the song publisher EMI April, which has had relationships with both the Gaye family and Thicke, claiming that EMI didn’t adequately protect the Gaye catalog and that the company attempted to intimidate the Gayes and keep them from filing the lawsuit. The suit claims that EMI should lose rights to “Blurred Lines” and to the Gaye catalog.

The lawsuit cites a GQ interview in which Thicke claims that he and his collaborators had talked about “Got To Give It Up” in the studio when they were putting together “Blurred Lines”: “Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.” They’ve also brought in a musicologist who claims that the songs share “at least eight substantially similar compositional features,” which “far [surpass] the similarities that might result from attempts to evoke an ’era’ of music or a shared genre.” And the Gaye kids claim that EMI planted the story about the six-figure settlement, which they say was not true.

Whatever you think of Thicke, or of Gaye’s legacy, this is a very dangerous and frivolous lawsuit. Thicke is obviously profoundly influenced by Marvin Gaye, but “Blurred Lines” is simply not the same song as “Got To Give It Up.” And if musicians can start suing other musicians based on matter of influence, it’s going to fuck the whole game up. If the suit is successful, it’s not hard to envision a future in which, say, the Sam Cooke estate could sue the Marvin Gaye estate. I can’t imagine the Gaye family will succeed in its crusade here, but we’ll see what happens.

Comments (21)
  1. Am I all alone here thinking that the two songs don’t sound THAT similar? The Gaye estate realizes that the only reason Thicke and his people did the preemptive suit and settlement offers is to save on legal fees, right?

  2. “that a “Marvin Gaye fixation” runs through Gaye’s entire body of work”

    This pleases me but I’m not sure it deserves a law suit.

  3. “Whatever you think of Thicke, or of Gaye’s legacy, this is a very dangerous and frivolous lawsuit.”

    I understand where you are coming from, but it is way, way, way too early to be making statements like this. It could well turn out to be dangerous and frivolous, but there is absolutely no way of knowing until there is access to the evidence in the case (which there almost certainly won’t be because it will likely be settled long before that).

    • I actually agree with the writers opinion, artists are always being influenced by others work, maybe they are pissed how Robin Thicke handled it, but I think Marvin’s Room by Drake is much closer in “ripping off” – and I say that very loosely and in total disagreement with the Gaye Clan – Marvin Gaye’s work. This is just a cheap low effort way for the Marvin Gaye family to milk some more money from a man and his legacy to soul music. I don’t even like Robin Thicke or the Blurred Lines single and yet I still think he is a victim in this one.

  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiA3MlgHtmc

    I always thought it sounded more like The Jamaicans- Things You Say You Love…sped up, and then add in some of that Marvin and you have it!

  5. ” and that a “Marvin Gaye fixation” runs through Gaye’s entire body of work.” I’m sure that was intended to say “Thicke’s” not “Gaye’s.”

  6. Ditto what Mao just wrote.

  7. I’m not a big blurred lines fan but first time i heard it i found it more similar to the Stones ”Emotional Rescue” than ”Got to give it up”, he was inspired by the former but to say it’s a rip off, don’t think so.

    I think Marvin Gaye’s family pretension, may be resumed as this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-BYzaDwNoE

    I great song by the late The Thamesman.

  8. Would all you facebook people please stop making such a big deal of a typo, thank you.

  9. There is no melodic similarity between Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” Has there ever been a successful music copyright infringement lawsuit in which there was NO melodic similarity, and NO copying of melody, harmony or rhythm?

    As an expert witness in music copyright infringement in the United States, and one who has no involvement in this particular matter, I would side with Robin Thicke. As an aside, I love Marvin Gaye’s music and don’t like Robin Thicke’s music. I think the Thicke song is extremely derivative and insignificant. Still, to have copyright infringement, one has to have copied “coyrightable expression,” and Thicke has not.

    I have been interviewed about this case (before it became a case) by ABC News, Fox News and the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. The CBC interview is here: http://bit.ly/1cuJhdu\

  10. Next week, the estate of Bo Diddley sues everybody, everywhere

    • Chuck Berry sues Angus Young over his use of the “Duck Walk” in live shows for 8000000 billion dollars. (Just kidding, Berry is too much of a cool cat to do that.)

      • “Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono sue every single pop artist that has existed post-Beatles.”

        • But on that topic, in the context of a more indie setting, Smith Westerns; who are a very awesome band, rip Beatle-pop constantly. Specifically “3 am Spiritual” which is complete with a George Harrison guitar solo. Inspiration isn’t criminal.

  11. fuck, get the beatles/seekers to sue oasis for every song they’ve done!

  12. Robin Thicke can’t hold a comparative candle to Marvin Gaye.

  13. I didn’t bother reading this article. Suffice to say that I’m on the side of whoever is against Robin Thicke in any situation, ever.

  14. Next, Madonna sues Arcade Fire for ripping off the Like A Virgin bassline on We Exist. Then the Michael Jackson estate catches wind of it and sues both for ripping off Billie Jean.

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