Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ “Blurred Lines” was huge when it came out in 2013. It’ll appear in our The Number Ones column eventually, and it was the longest-running #1 single the year it came out. But for just as long as it’s been popular, it’s been criticized for its creepy and off-putting lyrics and message.
Pharrell has defended the song’s subject matter over the years, but in a new GQ interview he’s singing a different tune. He’s asked about #MeToo and immediately launches into his feelings on “Blurred Lines,” first talking about how positively it seemed to be received and then reflecting on the creepy implications of lines like “I know you want it”:
I think “Blurred Lines” opened me up. I didn’t get it at first. Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, wow. They would have me blushing. So when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was, like, What are you talking about? There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up. And I know you want it — women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So it’s like, What’s rapey about that?
And then I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women. And I was like, Got it. I get it. Cool. My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel. Even though it wasn’t the majority, it didn’t matter. I cared what they were feeling too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realized that. Didn’t realize that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.
“Blurred Lines” has also been the subject of quite a fascinating case of copyright infringement that just wrapped up last year with its songwriters having to pay out nearly $5 million dollars to the estate of Marvin Gaye.