For a lot of people, including Marvin Gaye’s estate, Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” is the clear source of inspiration for the song “Blurred Lines.” But according to Pharrell Williams, his inspiration was less Marvin, more Montana. Hannah Montana.
He said that while Gaye’s music didn’t influence the songwriting, his other producing work in the studio that day did. “I had Earl Sweatshirt in one room and Miley Cyrus in the other. I was doing a bunch of country-sounding music with Miley,” he said, so when he went to work on Thicke’s track, bluegrass and “yodeling” were on his mind. “It was like blending this country sound with this up-tempo groove,” he said of “Blurred Lines.”
That’s all well and good, but here’s the problem: Thicke admitted two years ago that “Got to Give It Up” inspired the song.
GQ: What’s the origin story behind your new single “Blurred Lines”?
Robin Thicke: 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.” Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it. The whole thing was done in a couple hours—normally, those are the best ones. Him and I would go back and forth where I’d sing a line and he’d be like, “Hey, hey, hey!” We started acting like we were two old men on a porch hollering at girls like, “Hey, where you going, girl? Come over here!” That’s why, in the video, we’re doing all these old men dances. It was great.
Of course, Thicke and Williams have testified that the above interview was bullsh*t, as were all others, as Thicke was a) not in the studio when Williams was writing the song, and b) drunk and high on Vicodin during every single interview he participated in. He also admitted he was jealous and called his saying he was involved in the songwriting process a “little white lie.”
As similar as the recordings are, the case is specifically examining whether “Blurred Lines” matches the sheet music for “Got to Give It Up” and not the commercial release of the song, as Gaye’s family only holds the copyright to the sheet music.
“Blurred Lines” has so far earned over $16 million.