Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I (Clifford Harris, Jr.) collaborated to create a phenomenal hit record, which peaked at number one in fourteen countries. The hit which I’m referring to is “Blurred Lines”, not only did it dominate the radio waves but it managed to pull in a ridiculous 374,094,444 views on Youtube. The song of the summer earned its composers close to $17 million of which $5.6 million went to Robin Thicke, around $5.2 million went to Pharrell, and close to $700,000 was awarded to T.I. While the song took some criticism for its subject matter, it still couldn’t be stopped from becoming the the anthem of the summer.
Does the instrumentation and ‘feel’ sound familiar to a song previously released in 1977? How about Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up”? According to the legends family, “Robin Thicke noticeably ripped off Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give it Up”, when he wrote the smash hit “Blurred Lines” with Pharell Williams and T.I.” And a Los Angeles grand jury did in fact agree with this accusation. The decision which hinged on the fact that Gaye’s family owned only elements of the sheet music to “Got to Give it Up,” came from eight jurors who listened to testimony from musicologists, as well as Thicke and Williams. As a result Gaye’s family will receive $7.3 million, making it the biggest copyright infringement suit. Does the song above sound like a direct rip of the 1977 hit record? That all depends on the individual your posing this question to
This is a prime example of the fine line between a copy and a influence that permeates modern music and just about any creative endeavor. Clearly evident in cases such as this one but does similarity in the sound of the two songs make them a copy of one another? Not quite. While components of these songs do in fact sound substantially similar, it’s not the entire song, only portions of them. The bigger question is: What affect will this have on creativity when it comes to music production? As Joe Bennet, Professor of Popular Music and Dean of School of Music & Performing Arts, Bath Spa University, states “What worries me about this judgement is the precedent it sets, All art is influenced by other art, and genres of music evolve because of clusters of individual songs that have musical similarities.” All artist are influenced by other art whether it be from the past or the present. If we begin to hinder artist creativity, how are we going to evolve musically or in any art form for that matter? The answer is we won’t, instead of taking it offensive, these past musicians need to realize that the current artist are only paying homage to these past greats and their magnificent pieces of work. They paved the way for our current creatives to take their art forms to new heights, which were never before envisioned.
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