Following news that a US jury decided Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 single ‘Got To Give It Up’, the late singer’s family have stated that another of Pharrell’s songs borrows from the late singer.
Speaking about Pharrell’s single ‘Happy’ with regards to Gaye’s 1966 track ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’, Gaye’s daughter Nona commented: “I’m not going to lie. I do think they sound alike.” Speaking to CBS News, Gaye’s ex-wife Janis added: “I heard the mash-ups – but I didn’t really need to hear them. I know ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’ and I’ve heard ‘Happy’.” However, she added that would not be taking more legal action against the NERD producer and singer. “We’re not in that that space,” she said. “We’re just in the moment today and we’re satisfied.”
Williams and Thicke must pay $7.3m (£4.8m) to Gaye’s family following the ruling at the US District Court in Los Angeles earlier this week over ‘Blurred Lines’. The lawsuit was brought by Gaye’s children Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III, who inherited the copyright to the soul legend’s music following his death in 1984.
Nona, who wept as the verdict was read, said: “Right now, I feel free. Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
Thicke and Williams’ lawyer Howard E King said: “While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”
The trial came as a result of a pre-emptive August 2013 lawsuit filed by Thicke and Williams who, fearing the Gayes would be litigious, sought to affirm that ‘Blurred Lines’ is “strikingly different” to ‘Got to Give It Up’. US District Judge John Kronstadt denied their request and said a jury must decide “the intrinsic similarity of the works”.
During the trial, which began on February 25, Williams spent more than an hour describing his musical process and he how he came to write ‘Blurred Lines’, which took him about one hour in 2012. Though he admitted a similarity between the track and ‘Got To Give It Up’, he said the Gaye song never entered his head during the writing process, merely that he was “channelling… that late-’70s feeling”.
Singer Thicke performed a medley of songs in court as evidence that many tracks share similar chords and melodies without necessarily copying one another. His performance included tracks by artists including U2, Bob Marley and The Beatles.
It is thought that Pharrell and Thicke have earned over $5m (£3m) each from the profits of the Grammy-winning single. Total profits from the single are estimated to exceed $16m (£10.8), and it has sold well over one million copies in the UK, taking the title of 2013’s biggest selling single.