Pharrell Defends 'Blurred Lines,' Grills Host on 'Naughty Thoughts'

Musician also addresses six Iranians arrested for posting a video of themselves dancing to "Happy"

Pharell Williams
Mike Pont/FilmMagic
May 29, 2014 4:30 PM ET

Pharrell addressed the controversy surrounding the lyrics and video of his and Robin Thicke's 2013 super-smash "Blurred Lines" during an interview on Channel 4 News, saying he didn't think the line "I know you want it" was necessarily sexually suggestive, but rather a way of expressing that "even good girls have bad thoughts." You can watch the whole chat below.

While interviewer Krishnan Guru-Murthy pointed out that many thought the lyric carried connotations of a man forcing himself on a woman and infringed upon her right to say "No," Pharrell responded that neither action was addressed in the song. "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?" Pharrell asks.

'Blurred Lines': The Worst Song of This or Any Other Year

Pharrell then turned the tables on Guru-Murthy, asking him if he ever had "naughty thoughts" about his significant other. When Guru-Murthy declined to answer, Pharrell jumped: "And that's why that song needs to exist. Because there are certain people, who are good people, good upright standing citizens, who have thoughts, who feel funny and get uncomfortable when the camera is on them."

Amidst all the "Blurred Lines" talk, Pharrell also addressed the recent events in Iran, where a group of six young people were arrested for posting a video of themselves dancing to the musician's solo hit "Happy." While the accused were ultimately released, Pharrell attempted to speak to those who were offended, saying, "Man, we need to find common ground to where people can express their seemingly harmless versions of expression without being persecuted." He added: "I don't know that the song was meant to rebel against anyone. 'Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.' And I do, I feel like happiness is the truth and it's something that should be ubiquitous. If smiling was so much more in vogue than shooting missiles…"

While Pharrell quickly qualified that he wasn't trying to be philosophical and that his role was a musician, not an activist, Guru-Murthy did point to his recent comments about how Hillary Clinton should be the next President of the United States, and got Pharrell to expound on why there should be more female leaders. "Historically this world has been run by a man, and what would a world be like if 75 percent of our world leaders  or presidents and prime ministers  were female?" he said. "We do not know because we haven't given it a shot. We're too busy telling them what they can or can't do with their bodies. Or we're too busy not allowing them to make the same amount of money that a man makes."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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