Artist News

Pharrell says Blurred Lines ruling is “bad for music”

By | Published on Tuesday 5 November 2019

Pharrell Williams

Aside from having to hand over millions of dollars to the Marvin Gaye estate, possibly the most annoying thing for Pharrell Williams about losing the big ‘Blurred Lines’ copyright case will be having to talk about it for the rest of his life.

Right now though, he’s got plenty to say on the subject, and has been discussing the implications of that headline-grabbing ruling for songwriters and music as a whole with producer Rick Rubin in a new interview for GQ.

Having previously said that he’s now “embarrassed” by some of the lyrics in his 2013 hit, he admits in this new interview that he did “reverse engineer” Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’ when writing ‘Blurred Lines’. However, he still reckons the court ruling was wrong, because all that he took from Gaye’s song was “the feeling” and you “can’t copyright” that.

Williams explains that when writing music he often tries to “reverse engineer the songs that do something to [me] emotionally” with the aim of “building” something “that doesn’t look the same but makes you feel the same way. I did that [with] ‘Blurred Lines’ and got myself in trouble”.

Rubin interjects that the “trouble” he found himself in was “ridiculous” and that the two songs sound “nothing” like each other.

Agreeing, Williams says: “You can’t copyright a feeling. All salsa songs sound pretty much the same. It hurt my feelings because I would never take anything from anyone. And that really set me back”.

It’s not just him it affects though, he says, going on: “It’s bad for music because we’ve had an understanding of what a song is, and now based on that one case, there’s a question of what a song is. It’s not what it used to be because in the past, it would be the chords, the melody and the words … It leaves us as music makers in a really uncomfortable place making things because we don’t know what you can do”.

Watch Williams and Rubin’s full conversation here: