“Blurred Lines” Copyright Fight: Robin Thicke, Pharrell & T.I. Sue Marvin Gaye Estate
Well this is a bitter chapter in the “Blurred Lines” tale. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. have preemptively sued Marvin Gaye’s family and Funkadelic‘s rights-owners over claims that the smash hit of 2013 copied the respective acts’ “Got To Give It Up” and “Sexy Ways.”
“Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists,” the suit reads. “Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful composition, ‘Blurred Lines,’ copies ‘their’ compositions.”
Compare the three songs below and let us know if you think it’s inspiration or blatant imitation.
Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell & T.I. — “Blurred Lines”
Marvin Gaye — “Got To Give It Up”
Funkadelic — “Sexy Ways”
The lean riff and spare funk groove of Thicke’s hit are similar to those in “Got To Give It Up,” no doubt. And during the whole “Blurred Lines” cycle, Thicke has been very open about the influence Gaye’s classic had on his hit. Thicke even told GQ this about the making of the song: “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.'”
Could that statement come back to bite him? The Gaye estate certainly thinks so, claiming the track goes beyond homage and “feels” or “sounds” exactly the same. Meanwhile, Thicke’s camp argues that the only similarities come from “commonplace musical elements” and that “Blurred Lines” evokes an era, ownership of which cannot be claimed.
As for the Funkadelic track, we’re less convinced about any cribbing — and in an interesting twist, sometime Funkadelic front man George Clinton has sided with Thicke on the matter.
Both the Gaye family and Bridgeport Music (owners of certain Funkadelic compositions) are threatening to sue should the “Blurred Lines” crew not pay a monetary settlement.