Artist News

Pharrell Williams denies Blurred Lines controversy

By | Published on Thursday 29 May 2014

Pharrell Williams

Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ has been the subject of much controversy, though its co-writer Pharrell Williams has dodged much of the criticism thrown at it. However, in an interview aired on ‘Channel 4 News’ last night he was asked to justify the song’s lyrics and video.

Though before those questions could be asked, the producer made sure to state his political stance, reiterating his support for Hilary Clinton as a candidate in the next US presidential election and speculating on a world where “75% of our leaders were female”. He added: “People ask me if I’m a feminist. I don’t think it’s possible for me to be that. I’m a man. It [only] makes sense up to a certain point. But I do support feminists, I do think that there’s injustices, there are inequalities to be addressed”.

At this point, interviewer Krishnan Guru-Murthy raised ‘Blurred Lines’, focussing on one of the more controversial lines in the song, the repeated “I know you want it”, which Williams admitted that he, and not Thicke, had written. But he refused to accept that the line held sexually aggressive connotations, or was necessarily explicitly sexual at all.

“I don’t know where the forcing himself and a woman’s right to say no was ever addressed in that song”, he protested. “‘Is it sexually suggestive when a car salesman says to a person who’s trying to buy a car, ‘I know you want it?’ Does [the fact that it is often used as a sexually suggestive term] make it off limits for me to use it in a song, especially when the overall arching context is that there are good women who also have bad thoughts? If a good woman can have sexual thoughts, is it wrong for a man to have a correct guess that a woman might want something?”

Going on to say that the nudity in the video for the song was also not sexual, but rather “inspired by editorials by high fashion magazines”, he addressed another line in the song – the far less ambiguous, “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two”.

“That was what TI wrote. I didn’t write that”, he said. “I’m not disowning the line, [but] I didn’t write it. I’m not uncomfortable with that line. Why should I be uncomfortable? I love women. I love them inside and out. That song was meant for women to hear [it] and say, ‘You know what, I’m a good woman and sometimes I do have bad thoughts”.

Watch the interview in full here:

As previously reported, ‘Blurred Lines’ and the controversy around it was the focus of one strand at this year’s CMU Insights-programmed Great Escape convention. Over four sessions, a variety of speakers discussed misogyny in the UK music industry, the influence of sexism in US music over here, music videos and censorship, plus whether or not ‘Blurred Lines’ should have been banned by UK radio stations.

Read our reports and listen to all four discussions here.