Quite often I have trouble seeing the world how others see it. I fail to grasp concepts others catch onto relatively quickly, and that causes me to ask lots of questions to try and get a full understanding of things.
Today I have a simple question to ask. Why is Pharrell Williams successful? To expand on that, why is Pharrell Williams so successful while Robin Thicke’s career is dying?
I ask this in the wake of Robin Thicke’s latest album release, which according to various websites sold a measly 530 copies in the UK, and little more than fifty in Australia in it’s first week. If the Internet is anything to go by, then Thicke’s massive dip in popularity is more than likely due to the negative publicity he received for Blurred Lines.
If you’ve found your way to this website and have no idea what I’m talking about, congratulations you obviously didn’t use Tumblr in 2013 and I’m proud of you. Basically, Blurred Lines was a hit song that people loved until they listened to the lyrics and interpreted them to be about rape and sexual predators. If you want to hear the song, here’s a conveniently embedded video.
Now this isn’t a discussion about whether the song is misogynistic, or promotes “rape culture”, but the impact of that interpretation. People were obviously enraged enough to absolutely refuse to buy into Thicke after that point, and here we are a year later with the man bombing so hard it’s difficult to not call Blurred Lines a one-hit wonder.
What does this have to do with Pharrell?
Well, if you watched the video this question is just a rhetorical I’m using to segue into the next part. You’ll notice that Pharrell sings in the song. Turns out he not only has guest vocals, he also produced and co-wrote the song with both Robin Thicke and T.I.
On Wikipedia, Thicke is quoted as saying that he and Pharrell were in the studio talking about making a song and “we literally wrote the song in about half an hour and recorded it”. This implies that Robin and Pharrell were equal collaborators in the creation of Blurred Lines.
Of course, if he wasn’t, Pharrell would have been quick to wash his hands of the controversy that surrounded the song, correct? Well apparently he actually defended it as shown in the following excerpt from an interview:
What would be controversial about it? In “Blurred Lines”, the Robin Thicke lyrics are: “You don’t need no papers,” meaning, “You are not a possession.” “That man is not your maker,” meaning he is not God—nor can he produce children or women, for that matter. He’s a man, so he definitely did not make you…What I was trying to say was: “That man is trying to domesticate you, but you don’t need no papers—let me liberate you.” But it was misconstrued. When you pull back and look at the entire song, the point is: She’s a good girl, and even good girls want to do things, and that’s where you have the blurred lines. She expresses it in dancing because she’s a good girl. People who are agitated just want to be mad, and I accept their opinion… We got a kick out of making people dance, and that was the intention.
Hear that, Internet? Pharrell thinks you were just mad for the sake of being mad.
So, it sounds like they had equal input in creating the song, and both defend it vehemently, insisting that people are just misinterpreting the song. I would have assumed both men who have been equally shamed and boycotted by society.
Of course, I’m wrong. Pharrell Williams released an album this year that has gone gold in multiple countries. In it’s first week in the UK, Girl sold over 70,000 copies. That is a thirteen thousand percent increase over what Thicke’s latest has sold.
T.I. has a new album coming out, I’m sure it’ll sell more than Thicke, even though he also assisted in writing Blurred Lines.
This is exactly where I get confused. Why does Thicke lose his family and lose money, yet Williams is able to stand by the song, even telling people they’re making an issue out of nothing, and gets to walk away and create the hit song Happy? Robin Thicke isn’t the only one to blame here, yet he is the only one dealing with everything. I wonder if it’s because the song belongs to Thicke’s album, or if society has trouble staying angry at artists who aren’t white?
So if you’ve read this all the way, please tell me why Pharrell Williams has gotten away from the Blurred Line’s controversy without any problems? Am I missing something?