Sometimes I feel so uninspired…(and if you look at the date of my previous post, you’ll see that in my case “sometimes” could last for a long time.) But this whole Marvin Gaye/Robin Thicke verdict woke me up from my less-than-golden slumber.
The verdict is WRONG.
“Blurred Lines” is an homage to the classic Marvin Gaye track “Got To Give It Up“. That’s all it is – an homage. Thicke and Pharrell were inspired by the Gaye track, for sure. But the two tracks share no melody or lyrics. None. Only feel and arrangement.
Could Thicke and Pharrell have added Gaye’s name to the writing credits? Sure, but why? Again, no melody or lyric was duplicated exactly. They didn’t even use a SAMPLE of the Gaye track. But the court gave them seven million reasons to feel sorry.
This is nothing like the Phil Spector/George Harrison case, or, more recently, the Sam Smith/Tom Petty thing. Those melodic nicks were unintentional, and very likely subliminal. But, though the feel of each track was vastly different, their melodies – at least in parts – were virtually exact. The addition of original artists to the writing credits there – both after the fact, and one the result of a court verdict – is justified. Not here.
I’d even take umbrage with arguably the second most popular music plagiarism court case after Spector v. Harrison: Huey Lewis v. Ray Parker, Jr. I don’t hear an identical melody between “I Want a New Drug” and “Ghostbusters.” There isn’t even much of a feel similarity. But they lived in the litigious land of Close Enough.
So, what’s next on the docket? Maybe The Estate of Randy California v. Led Zeppelin, which will no doubt gain some fuel and attention in light of this verdict. (I always felt this was blatant thievery on the part of Jimmy Page, especially given his track record of liberally borrowing from blues greats and folkies, but given how strongly I feel about the Gaye v. Thicke/Pharrell outcome, I guess now I’d have to side with Page since the melodies – though similar – are not identical.) Or, perhaps Myriad ’80s R&B Artists v. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars?
I will let Stevie Wonder, an unquestioned musical genius, have the last word on this topic: