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Pharrell “embarrassed” by Blurred Lines lyrics

By | Published on Tuesday 15 October 2019

Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams has said that the controversy about his lyrics in Robin Thicke’s hit ‘Blurred Lines’ made him reconsider the content of his songs.

Speaking to GQ, he says: “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. I think ‘Blurred Lines’ opened me up”.

“I didn’t get it at first”, he admits, talking about all the criticism of the 2013 record, which was courting controversy long before the copyright dispute with the Marvin Gaye estate. “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”, he adds, “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?'”

However, he goes on: “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. 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”, he continues. “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”.

He goes on to say that ‘Happy’ – which, apparently, he originally wrote for CeeLo before releasing it himself later in 2013 – was something of a turning point in his approach to lyrics. Although that song did then appear on his 2014 solo album ‘Girl’, which had some questionable ‘Blurred Lines’ style lyrics on some of its other songs.

Still, if people pointing out the flaws in Thicke’s single did have a profound affect on him and his future lyrics, which he says it did, then something positive did come out of all of it.

Though, if he’s now embarrassed by the song, that must have made it all the more annoying to have to talk about it at length once that copyright dispute with the Gaye estate got to court. But maybe having to hand over all those royalties to the Gayes after losing the case doesn’t feel so bad.

Anyway, speaking of the ‘Blurred Lines’ trial, why not listen to this special edition of our Setlist podcast all about that big copyright case? It even has some discussion of the controversy surrounding the lyrics.