Pharrell Williams has moved to distance himself from ‘Blurred Lines’, the controversial 2013 hit he performed alongside Robin Thicke.
Speaking to GQ this month, the ‘Happy’ singer explained that he initially didn’t understand the furore surrounding the track’s reception. “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?”
The track drew attention after peaking at Number One in 25 different countries when debate around some of its lyrics –particularly the line “You know you want it” – led to many labelling the song chauvinistic and sexually aggressive.
“Then I realised 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 behaviour,” Pharrell explained. “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 realised that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realised that. Didn’t realise that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”
‘Blurred Lines’ was previously the subject of a copyright infringement case that concluded last year, with its songwriters having to pay out nearly $5 million to the estate of Marvin Gaye.
In 2016, the songwriters appealed a verdict that awarded $5.3 million in damages after it was found that their hit shared similarities to Marvin Gaye‘s 1977 song ‘Got To Give It Up’. It was claimed that there had been a “cascade of legal errors” leading to the original decision.
The initial March 2015 jury verdict resulted in a $7.3 million award to the late singer’s family, but the judge agreed to cut that to $5.3 million. A federal appeals court upheld the verdict in March 2018.