Since being released in March 2013, Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines" has been mired in controversy, not only because of the lyrics that some people perceive as being "rapey" but also because of the allegations that the song is a blatant rip-off of Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up." Thicke, along with Pharrell Williams and T.I., even went so far as to bring a lawsuit against Marvin Gaye's family and Bridgeport Music (owner of compositions by Funkadelic, which is also mentioned in the suit) to protect Thicke's song.
Now, why would you need to protect something that belongs to someone else?
In the lawsuit, Thicke and his merry band of alleged music thieves claimed that the Gaye family alleged that "Blurred Lines" and Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" "feel" or "sound" the same, and that the "Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work." As their lawsuit hit the court circuits, the Gaye family filed a cross-complaint stating that the plaintiffs used Gaye's music without authorization.
Now, in an interesting turn of events, the Gaye family has filed summary motion papers that include a mashup of both songs to make their case stronger. The family also convinced the judge to unseal the depositions of Thicke and Williams, and needless to say the case just got crazier.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Thicke and Williams were both hostile during their testimony, and Thicke also admitted misstating his participation in the creation of the song. When the Gaye-family attorney played the mashup of the song, Thicke's reaction was quite jarring.
"It's so hard to listen to it," said Thicke. "It's like nails on a f—king chalkboard. … This is [like] Stanley Kubrick's movie Clockwork Orange, where he has to sit there and watch. … Mozart would be rolling in his grave right now."
As for Thicke's embellishments about how much input he had in the making of the song, the deposition also brought those comments to the forefront.
In a previous interview with GQ magazine, Thicke stated, "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."
But now Thicke is singing a different tune. Under oath, Thicke admitted that he just wanted credit for the work. "I was jealous and I wanted some of the credit … I tried to take credit for it later because [Williams] wrote the whole thing pretty much by himself, and I was envious of that."
So did he want credit for it? Or is he now throwing Williams under the bus?
But then again, does Thicke even remember anything that happened during the sessions? Nope. He blames all that on drugs and alcohol, according to this excerpt from the deposition as recorded by the Hollywood Reporter:
Q: Were you present during the creation of 'Blurred Lines'?
Thicke: I was present. Obviously, I sang it. I had to be there.
Q: When the rhythm track was being created, were you there with Pharrell?
Thicke: To be honest, that's the only part where—I was high on vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted—I—I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit. So I started kind of convincing myself that I was a little more part of it than I was and I—because I didn't want him—I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."
Not only was Thicke not sober during the making of the song, but he also admits to rarely being sober during media appearances because he "had a drug and alcohol problem for the year" and "didn't do a sober interview." Thicke even stated that he was high during an Oprah interview! He admits to giving up the pain pills, but not alcohol—which he says drove his wife to leave him.
Now, Williams, on the other hand, although he said he could read sheet music, seemed to get riled up when he had to read it on cue during his deposition. Williams did take ownership of writing "Blurred Lines" and "composing" the music, but when asked why Thicke received 18-22 percent of the royalties, he chalked it up to being part of the game.
"This is what happens every day in our industry," said Williams. "You know, people are made to look like they have much more authorship in the situation than they actually do. So that's where the embellishment comes in."
The Gayes, Thicke, Williams and T.I. will face off in court on Feb. 10, 2015.
Click here (pdf) to read the full deposition.