When Robin Thicke released his chart-topping and multi-platinum selling hit single, Blurred Lines, featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I. in 2013, it was received with mixed reactions.
Though it gained massive rotation on the airwaves globally and became a party anthem at almost every social gathering, the lyrics to the song was criticized for being chauvinistic and promoting rape culture.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding the song, both Thicke and Pharrell defended the lyrics, claiming it meant no harm.
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Fast forward 2019, Pharrell, in an interview with GQ Magazine, admitted he regrets the lyrics to the song. The Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter spoke about how some sensitive issues including the objectification of women and lyrics that were swept under the carpet in the past can never be tolerated today.
“Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today. I get embarrassed by some of that stuff. It just took a lot of time and growth to get to that place,” he admitted.
According to the Happy crooner, he initially did not get why people criticised the lyrics of Blurred Lines.
“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?” he said.
However, he said he is now facing reality, especially about how men use language synonymous to the song’s lyrics to take advantage of women.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Besides criticism of the song’s lyrical content, it was also at the center of a copyright lawsuit filed by Marvin Gaye’s family. After a five-year legal battle, a California court ordered Robin Thicke and Pharrell to pay $5 million in damages to Gaye’s family last year after they were accused of copying his 1977 hit song Got to Give it Up.