FINDING OUT HOW “BLURRED” ROBIN’S LINES REALLY ARE
This Monday (February 10) the trial over the alleged copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye’s classic tune, Got To Give It Up, gets under way in a Los Angeles federal court. At the heart of the case is the Gaye clan’s accusation that the 1977 hit Got To Give It Up and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines “feel” and “sound” the same. In a case that has been widely anticipated for some time we finally get to find out just how “blurred” the lines really are between these two songs.
Thicke actually brought the suit in August of 2013 claiming that Blurred Lines was written to “evoke an era.” Thicke’s suit basically wants the court to determine that he could exploit Blurred Lines free of any claim from Gaye’s family. Also a party to the action is Bridgeport Music, the copyright owner of Sexy Ways. As to the Sexy Ways, Thicke also wants to be free of any claim of infringement when comparing Sexy Ways to Blurred Lines.
Members of the Gaye family have countersued Thick while also naming Pharrell Williams , a co-writer of Blurred Lines (Williams, shown below is also the writer and performer of the pop tune Happy from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack). Interestingly, the Gaye family not only relied on expert analysis as to the similarity of the two songs but they also quoted from a 2013 GQ interview Thicke gave where he said the following:
“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 do 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 countersuit also quoted from various commentators and critics who immediately picked up on the similarities between the two compositions. At the heart of the counteraction it also alleges that Blurred Lines unlawfully borrowed a “signature phrase, vocal hook, backup vocal hook” as well as signature keyboard and bass lines. This was in addition to the “unusual cowbell instrumentation, omission of guitar, and use of male falsetto.”
Undeniably, the success of Blurred Lines makes this an intriguing case with a lot at stake. But there is more. The Gaye family’s countersuit also takes issue with the similarities between Thicke’s Love After War because of its alleged similarity to Gaye’s 1976 After The Dance.
The witness list filed with the court is indicative of interesting courtroom testimony to come. Included on that list is a quasi-business manager of the Gaye family, Thicke, Pharrell Williams, a New York musiscologist (Judith Finnell) and, a Harvard musicologist (Ingrid Monson). Also named are members of the Gaye family along with various other witnesses including engineers and producers. Stay tuned for further updates.
KEN “K BO” BIEDZYNSKI