In a stunning courtroom deposition transcript published by The Hollywood Reporter earlier today, Robin Thicke claims that Pharrell Williams almost single-handedly wrote and produced last year's megahit song "Blurred Lines." Thick explains that he had lied repeatedly about how the song was produced because he was jealous and under the influence of alcohol and painkillers during every media interview he did after the song came out.
The bombshells came as Thicke was questioned by a lawyer about the connection and likeness between the song and Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit "Got To Give It Up." The court case stems from a lawsuit that was actually filed by Thicke, Williams, and T.I. against Marvin Gaye's family, preemptively trying to stop themselves from being sued for copyright infringement. As it turns out, the Gaye family counter-sued and the whole thing has been slowly unraveling for over a year now.
In the deposition, the most damning evidence that the song was in some way plagiarized came from interviews with GQ Magazine, Fuse TV, VH1, and Hot 97. In every one of those interviews, Thicke tells a specific and consistent story that clearly acknowledges the importance of Gaye's "Got To Give It Up" to the creation of "Blurred Lines." As told to GQ:
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.
Now, Thicke is saying that he completely fabricated that story.
Initially Thicke said he lied because, "after making six albums that I wrote and produced myself, the biggest hit of my career was written and produced by somebody else and I was jealous and I wanted some of the credit... [Pharrell] wrote the whole thing pretty much by himself and I was envious of that..."
When pressed about his involvement in the songwriting process, Thicke dropped another bombshell, explaining he "was high on vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio."
At one point, the lawyer asks Thicke to read a quote from a Billboard article, which had actually been taken from the aforementioned GQ interview. In a way, this is pretty misleading because the lawyer was making it seem like two different interviews, when in fact one was an article referring to another interview. Immediately after this, Thicke dropped a bomb: "With all due respect, I was high and drunk every time I did an interview last year. So there are some quotes I don't remember saying, but I do generally remember trying to sell -- sell the public on the fact that "Blurred Lines" was my idea in some way."
Shortly afterward, the lawyer asked Thicke, "Are you drunk or on any drugs today?" to which Thicke responded, "No, I've -- I've been sober for the last two months... When your wife leaves you, it gives you good reason to sober up." Thicke later clarified that he's still drinking alcohol, but he's "sober off the pills, off of vicodin."
Perhaps the boldest and most blatant example of how Thicke could have admitted to plagiarizing Marvin Gaye's song came during a Hot 97 interview. Thicke was asked if "Blurred Lines" was like "Got To Give It Up" part 2, to which he responded "Definitely, yeah." Thicke justifies his response by saying:
Well, they teach you in the entertainment, and in -- and -- to -- in improv and always say "yes" and -- and move forward and instead of saying "no" to things. So if they say, "Hey it's exciting," if they're -- if they're giving you positivity, you always go, "yeah, of course, man." That's what we were going for. You don't stop -- it's -- that entertainment. It's bad interview to fight and argue and disagree. So if somebody lends me a positive opening, I follow the positivity with, "Yeah, man, that's exactly what we were going for. All the way."
Other notable excerpts:
As the Gayes' lawyer played a mash-up of the two songs, he asked Robin Thicke to identify which bass line was playing. Thicke repeatedly talked about how "Blurred Lines" and "Got To Give It Up" are completely different because one is in major and the other is in a minor key. At one point, Thicke says "Mozart would be rolling in his grave right now." Based on the dialogue, we think this mashup would have been pretty similar to what they played Thicke.
Thicke: Sorry I called you a dick earlier, I know that you're just doing your job.
Lawyer Richard Busch: That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all day.
When asked if "Got To Give It Up" was one of Robin Thicke's favorite songs, Thicke responded "I would say after... my own hundred songs, yes, it's one of my favorite songs."
The Gayes' lawyer asked about All Music Guide's claim that Thicke has a "perpetual Marvin fixation" as described in the following review of the Blurred Lines album:
When Marvin Gaye was pressured to make a commercial dance record, the singer responded with "Got to Give It Up," which went to the top of the Hot 100. Thirty-five years later, Robin Thicke — he of the perpetual Marvin fixation — offhandedly recorded "Blurred Lines," musically based on that 1977 hit, with producer Pharrell. Thicke wasn't gunning for number one, but a deliberately sexist video further polarized opinions and pushed the song to that spot — a very rare achievement for a 2013 single within the marginalized genre of R&B...
Thicke responded that he had never heard this before.
Q: "In your interview on the Oprah Show, you said: You can't own a feeling. You own the melodies, the bass line, the chord progressions, the syncopation. My question to you is: Do you believe there is any similarity in any of the melodies between "Blurred Lines" and "Got To Give It Up"?
A: Not a single melody note is the same. Absolutely not.
Q: What percentage -- what writer credit did you get?
A: I believe in the end, that once T.I. joined -- I'm sorry. Actually, I don't know if -- I think it's 22 percent. Might be 18 percent. Something like that.
Q: Do you know how much money you have made on "Blurred Lines"?
A: I have no idea.
Another exchange highlighted just how much money could be in play here:
Gayes' lawyer: "Blurred Lines" has been extremely commercially successful; correct?
Gayes' lawyer: "Yes"?
Gayes' lawyer: It's been certified six times platinum by the R.I.A.A.?
Thicke: Yes, sir.
Gayes' lawyer: And it's a number one hit in at least 114 countries, is that right?
Gayes' lawyer: Maybe the Gayes will be saying that one day.
Thicke's lawyer: Is that a question?
Gayes' lawyer: No, it wasn't.
Thicke's deposition took place in Los Angeles on April 23rd, 2014, but was not released to the public until today, September 15th. The timing could not have been much worse for him, as his public fall from grace has become pop music history. During the summer of 2013, "Blurred Lines" was the biggest hit of his career, but his most recent album, Paula, was an unmitigated disaster with poor sales and a particularly embarrassing Twitter marketing campaign that backfired as he came under fire for his misdeeds that led to the failure of his marriage with Paula Patton.
The Hollywood Reporter says that a jury trial has been scheduled for February 10, 2015. It will be interesting to see if a settlement is reached before then. Stay tuned to Zumic for all the latest breaking information on the case.