Blurred Lines is a pop/rap song by Robin Thicke, released as a single on March 26, 2013, through Star Trak Recordings. It includes guest vocals by rapper T.I. and singer and producer Pharrell.
This has been by far Thicke's most successful release, having hit number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the Billboard R&B Songs chart. It stayed at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 for twelve consecutive weeks.
The Music: The first thing one notices about this song is that it heavily samples Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up (Vimeo). Well, 'sample' is probably the wrong word; they appear to have re-recorded the music, and the lyrics are original. But it's the same groovy beat, the same warm Hammond organ, the same tempo that seems to change depending on the number of times you've listened to the song. Marvin Gaye's original recording, in addition to having completely different lyrics, also had a slow, comparatively quite vocal track, and tended towards becoming repetitive. Robin Thicke replaced this with a clear, sharp vocal track, and replaced the smooth groove mellow with a quasi-rap vibe.
All in all, it's a great thing; this is a great cover of a great piece.
The Lyrics: Well... almost a great cover. Thicke claims to have written and recorded the whole thing in under an hour, and the lyrics show it. He says that it was written as if it were "two old men on a porch hollering at girls", but it comes across as drunken jocks yelling at women at the club. Either way, the song would be quite a bit improved if it had been recorded in Linear A; in its current form the semantic content is an overall negative.
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you're a good girl
Can't let it get past me
You're far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
There has been some buzz about the lyrics being 'rapey', mostly because of the repeated chorus of "I know you want it"; quite frankly, this is no worse than dozens of other songs out there, and quite a bit better than many popular rap songs. Which doesn't change the fact that the song includes verses on cheating and drug use, a good amount of random profanity, and the lines "I know you want it" (18 times) and "you're an animal, it's in your nature" (once). It does not reflect well on men, the sort of women that like men, or pop musicians. Or people who write songs in a hour.
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it's almost unbearable
In a hundred years not dare, would I
Pull a Pharside let you pass me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don't smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
The Video(s): There are two... mostly. First, there is the original video, which includes a fair number of shots of topless women, and then there is the sanitized version, which is the same thing but with more bras. There was a fair amount of excitement as every 16-year-old on the internet tried to find the original video, which was exacerbated when YouTube banned it. Vimeo became quite popular for a few days, until YouTube's marketing department threw a hissy fit.
Which is all very good for sales. But more importantly, this is actually a very good music video, because it is impressively minimalist. It has absolutely zero special effects, no background or set, no explosions, no video graphics. It is a white stage with six people on it. And only one of these six, it should be noted, have any dancing skills at all. They walk around, they use various props in a subdued fashion, hashtags flash on the screen, and that's it. The lighting is perfect (easy on a white stage, I suppose), the video editing is clean and sharp, and it all works quite well. It works especially well if you like handsome men in suits and mostly-naked women, but it would still be a good video if they all dressed in muumuus.
This minimalist production, along with the aforementioned controversy, has made it a prime target for parodies. Feminist parodies, even angrier feminist parodies, if-you-can't-beat-them-join-them parodies,
women-free parodies, can-we-make-it-even-more-offensive? parodies (as it happens, yes you can), political statements, Doctor Who parodies, random nonsense, and and I don't even know what. Oh yeah, Jimmy Kimmel also did one.
The Media: Can you say Most Hype Ever? In addition to all of the buzz about naked (well, almost) women, and what Thicke's wife and young son would think, and yes, Marvin Gaye's estate bringing a lawsuit, there is also... well, a lot of 'live' performances. Aside from the aforementioned Jimmy Kimmel parody, which features Thicke and Pharrell, there have also been appearances on The Colbert Report, The Voice, The Ellen Show, America's Got Talent, the BET awards, The Howard Stern Show, the Today Show, The Graham Norton Show, Smells like Friday Night, BBC Radio 1 (for both 1Xtra and the Live Lounge), Le Grand Journal (FR), Germany's Next Top Model, Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, MTV Video Music Awards, and others.
Things appear to be cooling down, and hopefully we won't be seeing too many more random live shows. But it looks like it'll be reappearing on our radios for years to come, and may go down as one of the Golden Oldies of the 2010s... Which, quite frankly, is perfectly fitting.