The battle over “Blurred Lines” continues in a Los Angeles courtroom as Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams face off against the Marvin Gaye estate over whether the Worst Song of 2013 infringed on the soul singer’s “Got to Give It Up.” After the “Blurred Lines” creators preemptively sued the Gaye estate in September 2013, Gaye’s family fired back with a countersuit, setting the stage for the legal tiff waging in a federal courtroom this past week.
As the New York Times reports, Thicke’s testimony in the trial featured the Paula singer stepping behind a keyboard and giving jurors a lesson in Musicology 101, breaking down both “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s classic along with songs by U2, the Beatles and Michael Jackson to show how chord progression and melodies are often, either unknowingly or as an homage, borrowed from songs that came before it.
After the Gaye estate filed their lawsuit, Thicke admitted in an April 2014 that he had very little to do with penning “Blurred Lines” even though he was listed among the songwriters, adding that he was “high on Vicodin and alcohol” at the time of recording. In court last week, Thicke doubled down on those comments, admitting that Pharrell was the mastermind behind the track. “The biggest hit of my career was written by somebody else, and I was jealous and wanted credit,” Thicke said. “I felt it was a little white lie that didn’t hurt his career but boosted mine.”
In an earlier deposition, Williams revealed that shared co-writing credits, even when the artist is undeserving, “is what happens every day in our industry.” Pharrell is scheduled to testify later this week, and what he says on the stand could determine whether the Gaye family receives a sizable chunk of the estimated $30 million “Blurred Lines” generated or if the 2013 smash is simply a rip-off of Gaye’s music but not an infringement.
In January 2014, Sony avoided entering the fray by reaching a settlement with the Gaye family over “Blurred Lines.”