Marvin Gaye’s children are $7.4 million the richer after a jury determined that singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams directly lifted their father’s tune ‘Got To Give It Up’ and basically giving it a bit of a misogynistic twist to create their enormous chart buster ‘Blurred Lines’ in 2013.
Despite the song being totally grotesque in content, Williams and Thicke earned big off the back of it generating over 7.3 million sales in the U.S alone, earning the pair millions and a Grammy nomination. The song does bear some resemblance to the 1977 hit, but is it really a positive result for music makers at large that Gaye’s estate has won this particular battle? It’s not as though anyone has forgotten the recent Sam Smith/Tom Petty debacle which resulted in royalties now being paid to Petty for Smith’s global hit ‘Stay With Me’.
Partly derivative musicianship has been responsible for some of the biggest hits of the past 30 years which has taken a number of forms: sampling, riff pinching, drum beat nicking, vocal impersonating, etc.
See below for a few examples which might have slipped the net of sounding-a-bit-like-something-else:
Is it really a great victory for music when one of the world’s most successful hit makers gets taken down by the similarity of one of his songs to another one which was released over 40 years ago?
Are songwriters getting lazier? Or is it just getting more and more difficult not to derive SOMETHING from the enormous back catalogue of copyrighted material out there?
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Don’t forget you can check out Marvin’s original here and Robin Thicke’s version here.