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Robin Thicke: ‘I Know the Difference Between Inspiration and Theft’

“Blurred Lines” singer reflects on the best and worst year of his life

Kory Grow Jul 05, 2015
Robin Thicke says he knows the difference between stealing and inspiration in a new interview. Photo Credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock

Robin Thicke says he knows the difference between stealing and inspiration in a new interview. Photo Credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock

Robin Thicke maintained that he did not plagiarize Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” when he co-wrote “Blurred Lines” in his first interview since a jury decided otherwise. “I know the difference between inspiration and theft,” he recently told The New York Times. “I’m constantly inspired, but I would never steal. And neither would Pharrell.”

The singer went on to elaborate on the differences between stealing and inspiration, saying that the former could happen subliminally. “Why would I want to, or have to, steal from anybody to make my music?” he asked at one point. Moreover, he said the events of the “Blurred Lines” copyright trial ”“ which awarded more than $7 million judgment to the family of Marvin Gaye this past March ”“ have not affected his creative process. “If the verdict holds up, I believe that it will have a ripple effect on the arts and the industry in general,” he said. “I mean, if you made the first superhero movie, do you own the concept of the superhero?” Thicke, however, was unable to speculate on the case’s appeal.

Thicke said that he felt Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” ripped off songs by the Gap Band and Tom Petty, respectively. “Those songs are the same,” he said of “Stay With Me” and Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” “The same notes, on the same timing, in the same rhythm. The two songs are exactly the same.”

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Thicke also addressed accusations of propagating rape culture with the lyrics to “Blurred Lines.” He claimed that neither he nor collaborator Pharrell Williams would have written a song with “any negative connotation like that” and that he felt that nobody would make that connection had he not made a video for the tune. A comment he made to GQ, in which he expressed pleasure in degrading women, was meant as sarcasm, he said.

He also claimed that he was going through a “personal hell” when he gave deposition ”“ two weeks after separating from his wife ”“ that he’d had less to do with the creation of “Burred Lines” than he’d previously claimed and that he was high when he did press claiming otherwise.

Thicke faced a turning point after a friend told him he looked like a “sucker” when performing “Forever Love” ”“ a track off his Blurred Lines follow-up, Paula, which he named after his wife ”“ at the 2014 BET Awards. “What I thought was romantic was just embarrassing,” the singer told the paper. “And he said, ‘You should just go away for a while.’ So I shut everything down.” He said his only regret around Paula, an album he made while he was “struggling through the toughest time,” was not putting it out for free in order to maintain its purity.

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As both parties in the “Blurred Lines” suit await how the appeals process play out, the Gayes are attempting to make “Blurred Lines” rapper T.I. liable for plagiarism, along with Thicke and Pharrell. The hip-hop artist later said he would never “steal” from anybody. Meanwhile, Thicke’s father ”“ Alan Thicke, who played the father on Growing Pains and either composed or helped compose the theme songs for Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life ”“ said that the verdict, as it was decided, was “dangerous to the musical community.”