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|Single by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams|
|from the album Blurred Lines|
|Released||March 26, 2013|
|Robin Thicke singles chronology|
|Single by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams|
|from the album Blurred Lines|
|Released||March 26, 2013|
|Robin Thicke singles chronology|
"Blurred Lines" is a song recorded by American-Canadian recording artist Robin Thicke for his 2013 album of the same name. The song features guest vocals from American rapper T.I. and American singer and producer Pharrell Williams; all three share writing credits on the song, while production was done by Pharrell. The song was released as the lead single from the album on March 26, 2013 through Star Trak Recordings.
The single peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as well as topping the Billboard R&B Songs chart. It became Thicke's most successful song on the Billboard Hot 100, being his first to reach number one on the chart (he previously peaked at number 14 in 2007 with "Lost Without U"). It also marks Pharrell's third Hot 100 number one, after "Drop It Like It's Hot" with Snoop Dogg in 2004 and "Money Maker" with Ludacris in 2006, and T.I.'s fourth Hot 100 number one after "My Love" with Justin Timberlake in 2006, and his own singles "Whatever You Like" and "Live Your Life" in 2008. The song has been a worldwide hit, also topping the charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as the top ten in Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, France, Iceland, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland. In the United States, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for twelve consecutive weeks, becoming the longest running number one single of 2013 and of the 2010s decade, surpassing Rihanna's "We Found Love" (2011). This feat also gave him the eighth lead male solo artist in Billboard history to rack ten or more weeks at the number one spot for a single. It sold over 5 million copies in just 22 weeks in the US, and 6 million in 29 weeks, faster than any other song in digital history. Internationally, the single was the best-selling digital single of 2013 and is currently the second best-selling digital single of all time, behind The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling". It was the second best-selling song of 2013 in the US and the best-selling song of 2013 in the UK. As of March 2014, the song became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with sales of 14.8 million. In April 2014, "Blurred Lines" was revealed as the most downloaded song in UK chart history.
The music video was released on March 20, 2013, and was made in two versions; the first video features models Emily Ratajkowski, Jessi M'Bengue, and Elle Evans being topless, the second features them covered. On March 30, 2013, the topless version of the video was removed from YouTube for violating the site's terms of service regarding nudity, though it was later restored, but flagged as inappropriate. The song's lyrics and music video has also proved controversial with some groups, with claims that it is misogynist and promotes date rape. This has led to the song being banned at universities and other institutions in the United Kingdom, and prompted a rebuttal from Thicke.
On July 28, 2013, "Blurred Lines" broke the record for radio audience previously held by Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" in 2005. A press release from Interscope said as of the last week in July 2013, the track reached more than 242.65 million listeners. The single was nominated for two Grammys at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
"Blurred Lines" was produced by Thicke and Pharrell with an intention of creating a sound similar to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" (1977). The song was completed in less than an hour. In an interview with GQ's Stelios Phili, Thicke explained:
"Pharrell and I were in the studio and [...] I was like, 'Damn, we should make something like that ["Got to Give It Up"], something with that groove.' Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about half an hour and recorded it. He and I would go back and forth where I'd sing a line and he'd be like, 'Hey, hey, hey!' We started acting like we were two old men on a porch hollering at girls like, 'Hey, where you going, girl? Come over here!'"
In a separate interview, Thicke clarified the meaning of the song's title, saying it referred to "the good-girl/bad-girl thing and what’s appropriate."
Thicke and manager Jordan Feldstein decided the song would not have much impact through radio and would need an innovative approach to become a hit. Feldstein told HitQuarters: "We had an artist that had never had a hit on radio. It was a non-traditional song; it didn't sound like a Timberland or Benny Blanco record. So we had to approach the market in an interesting way." Feldstein came up with the idea of creating a video designed to go viral and brought in experienced music video director Diane Martel to shoot it. Its controversial nature was designed to attract attention with Feldstein saying: "I knew it would get it banned quickly ... Getting something banned actually helps you."
The music video, directed by Diane Martel, was released on March 20, 2013. The video features Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell casually standing in front of light-pink backdrop as they flirt with models (Emily Ratajkowski, Elle Evans and Jessi M'Bengue) who pose and dance. At various points, the hashtag "#THICKE" flashes, whilst towards the end, "ROBIN THICKE HAS A BIG DICK" is spelt out in silver balloons. In the unrated version of the video, the models wear nothing but skin-colored G-strings. In the edited version, they are scantily clad and the hashtag "#BLURREDLINES" is seen at various points. This is the second time that director Diane Martel and Pharrell join together for a music video project involving two differently rated versions. The 2001 video for the N.E.R.D single "Lapdance" also featured models in two variant editions, one of which, like "Blurred Lines", is a topless version. The video was filmed at Mack Sennett Studios in Silver Lake.
After being on the site for just under one week, the unrated version of the video was removed from YouTube on March 30, 2013, citing violations of the site's terms of service that restricts the uploading of videos containing nudity, particularly if used in a sexual context. However it was later restored on July 12, 2013. The unrated video remains available on Vevo, while the edited version is available on both Vevo and YouTube. The unrated version of "Blurred Lines" generated more than 1 million views in the days following its release on Vevo. As of March 2014, the unrated version of "Blurred Lines" is available on YouTube.
Asked about the racy content of the video, Thicke responded: "We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, 'We're the perfect guys to make fun of this.' People say, 'Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?' I'm like, 'Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women.' " During an interview with Oprah Winfrey for Oprah's Next Chapter, Thicke clarified his comment, describing it as a "bad joke" and noting that the published GQ interview did not mention that he was doing an impersonation of Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character while making the remark thus not providing the sarcastic/joking context.
A sample of "Blurred Lines"
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
Critical reactions to the song were mostly positive. The Michigan Daily's Jackson Howard graded it an "A" and praised it as "one of Pharrell’s best beats in years ... by the time the multilayered and carnal harmonies of the chorus come in, the song is completely on fire." Writing for Billboard, Chris Payne compared it with Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" and called it a "bubbly bit of disco-shuffling R&B", while also noting its racy content. Digital Spy's Lewis Corner, who gave the song three out of five stars, was more wary of the single and remarked: "It's a subject that when in the right hands can be smooth and soulful, but in the wrong, crass and chauvinistic ... you need the right balance of charm and swagger to pull it off."
"Blurred Lines" peaked at number one in 14 countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Republic of Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, becoming Thicke's highest charting song in all of these countries. In Australia, the song was certified quadruple platinum for shipments of 280,000 and triple platinum in New Zealand for sales of 45,000. "Blurred Lines" peaked within the top five of 14 countries including France and Switzerland. The song is currently the longest-running number-one single of 2013 in Australia and New Zealand, having topped the ARIA Singles Chart for eight consecutive weeks in Australia, and the RIANZ Singles Chart for 11 non-consecutive weeks in New Zealand. For the Latin American market, a version featuring Colombian rapper J Balvin was released on Spanish-language radio stations. This version peaked at number 7 in Colombia.
In the United States, the song debuted at number 94 on the Billboard Hot 100, the following week the song rose to number 89, then to number 70, then to number 54. The single's progress appeared to stabilize in middle of the U.S. charts when, in mid-May, Robin Thicke and Pharrell performed it live on NBC’s The Voice. Immediately afterwards the song flew up to number 12 on the Hot 100. Not long thereafter it peaked at number one, becoming Thicke's highest peaking song on the chart in his recording history. It also became Thicke's first chart entry since "Sex Therapy" and his second top 20 ever, after "Lost Without U". The track is also Pharell's third Billboard Hot 100 number one single and T.I.'s fourth. As of June 12, 2013, "Blurred Lines" has sold 1 million copies in the United States since its release, becoming Thicke's first single to do so. As of the chart issue dated September 7, 2013, the song is the longest-running number-one single of 2013 with 12 weeks at the top. The song is also the first to claim the top "Digital Gainer", top "Airplay Gainer" and the top "Streaming Gainer" simultaneously, and to be awarded the top "Airplay Gainer" for 9 (and afterwards 10) weeks. As of August 8, it also broke the record for the all-time highest number of radio impressions during a single week in the US, with 219.8 million impressions (which it later extended to 228.9 million impressions the week after), surpassing the eight-year-old record of 212.2 million impressions, set by Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together", and is the first song to have four or more weeks of downloads of over 400,000 in the US. On week ending September 14, 2013 it was knocked off number one by Katy Perry with her single "Roar". Blurred Lines was also the No. 1 song of the year on iHeart Radio's Top 100 Countdown for 2013. The song was also the first disco song to reach number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since Upside Down in September 1980. It became the best-selling song of 2013 in the US, selling 6,498,000 downloads in 2013. By April 2014, the single had reached its 7 million mark in sales, taking 56 weeks to reach this mark. It has sold 7,049,000 copies in the US as of May 2014.
In Canada, the song reached number one for 13 consecutive weeks, becoming the longest-running number-one single of 2013. Since the launch of Billboard Canadian Charts last 2007, the song has become the second most weeks at number one, tying "Apologize" by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic in 2007–2008, and just behind "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas in 2009, with a record of 16 weeks on top of the charts. It was Canada's best-selling song of 2013 with 692,000 copies sold (706,000 for all versions combined).
In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart on June 2, 2013 ― for the week ending date June 8, 2013 ― selling 190,000 copies in its first week and becoming Britain's fastest-selling single of the year until then in the process, though it would later be surpassed by Avicii's "Wake Me Up" on July 21, 2013. "Blurred Lines" then remained at number one the following week, selling even more than it did in its first with 199,000 copies sold. On its fifth week in the charts, the single dropped a place to number two although it shifted a further 100,000 copies, having the fastest one-week sales at number two of 2013 so far. After a two-week break from the top spot, the song returned to number one on July 14, 2013 ― for the week ending date July 20, 3013 ― to claim its fifth week at the top, becoming the first song to spend two weeks off the top-spot before reclaiming the position, since Rihanna's single "We Found Love" in 2011. "Blurred Lines" was confirmed to have sold 1 million copies on its 50th day of release, becoming Pharrell's second song in only a month to achieve that feat in Britain (the other being Daft Punk collaboration "Get Lucky"). According to the Official Charts Company, the single became Britain's best-selling single of 2013 with sales of 1,472,681 copies.
According to the IFPI, by the end of the year, the single had sold 14.8 million copies becoming the best selling song of the year worldwide.
On April 21, 2014 it was announced that "Blurred Lines" was the most downloaded song of all time in the UK have more than 1.54 million digital sales since its release in 2013.
Critics such as Tricia Romano of The Daily Beast suggested that the song and the music video trivialize sexual consent. She claims that many female fans were uncomfortable with both the song and the video. Her article quoted many critics who interpreted the song's message as being promotion of rape culture because the title "Blurred Lines" and portions of the lyrics like "I know you want it" encourage the idea "no doesn't always mean no" and that some women who are raped are asking for it. Criticism was also leveled at the song's video, which has been labelled "eye-poppingly misogynist". A select number of universities in the United Kingdom banned the song from use at student events, despite the song's massive success in the country. At the University of Edinburgh, students' association officials stating the song violates its policy against "rape culture and lad banter" and promotes an unhealthy attitude towards sex and consent. It was also banned at other British institutions, including Plymouth University, Leeds University, University of Derby, Queen Mary University of London, Kingston University, University of Bolton, Queen's University Belfast, University of Birmingham, University of the West of Scotland and a number of Oxford and Durham colleges. In Marshfield, Wisconsin, Lisa Joling, head coach of the Marshfield High School dance team, was fired in August 2013, three days after a halftime performance by her dance class to the song.
Thicke, noting that all three male singers are married and have children, claimed that the Diane Martel–directed video was tongue-in-cheek. When defending the song on NBC’s The Today Show, the 36-year-old singer explained that encouraging conversation about the song’s content was his intention. ”It’s actually a feminist movement within itself. It’s saying that women and men are equals as animals and as power” said the R&B singer. After its banning at University College London, Thicke declared the song was about his wife, and that after 20 years together, he indeed knew she wanted it from him. but did not explain how this works in context of the rest of the song.
During an interview with NPR, "Blurred Lines" producer and co-writer Pharrell defended the song, highlighting the lyric that man is not your maker, saying, "I don't know anything that could be more clear about our position in the song" and "...if you're looking at the lyrics, the power is right there in the woman's hand. That man — me as a human being, me as a man, I'm not your maker, I can't tell you what to do." Pharrell reiterated and expounded on his defense during and interview with Pitchfork Media, in response to the idea of the song being "sexually predatory", saying:
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.
In a Q&A for Grantland.com, video director Diane Martel had this to say about the music video:
I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics in a way where the girls were going to overpower the men. Look at Emily Ratajkowski’s performance; it’s very, very funny and subtly ridiculing. That’s what is fresh to me. It also forces the men to feel playful and not at all like predators. I directed the girls to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position. I don’t think the video is sexist. The lyrics are ridiculous, the guys are silly as (expletive). That said, I respect women who are watching out for negative images in pop culture and who find the nudity offensive, but I find [the video] meta and playful.
Thicke at first appears to contradict his claims that the song is about women empowerment in an interview given to GQ in May 2013, stating "We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, 'We're the perfect guys to make fun of this.' People say, "Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?" I'm like, 'Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women.'" Thicke later clarified this comment during an interview for Oprah's Next Chapter describing it as a "bad joke", noting that the GQ interview that was published did not mention that he had been joking back and forth with the interviewer and doing an impersonation of Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character while making the remark, thus not providing the facetious context.
In an interview for CBC Radio's Q, Thicke dismissed the idea that the song is about a man forcing himself sexually onto a woman as "an impossible reality". Thicke continues, "For them to take that lyric [I know you want it] and not take the lyrics that man is not your maker, you're an animal, and we're equals, and all of the other lyrics that are in the song and only to take I know you want it from a guy like Ron Burgundy who's standing there going, [does impression of Ron Burgundy] 'I know you want it, baby'. It's a joke. If they can't get the joke, I feel bad for them, but I'm not going to change the joke."
In the interview, Thicke noted that part of video director Diane Martel's intention was to generate attention, but Thicke defended the song saying, "The song and the video are two completely different things. The song has nothing to do with belittling a woman or misogyny or anything. Obviously, when a guy's standing there fully clothed and the girls are naked, I totally welcome the conversation of what does this video say about men and women, but the song itself, the title, "Blurred Lines", is about men and woman are equals."
In August 2013, Robin Thicke preemptively sued the family of Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music regarding copyright infringement allegations the two companies made relating to "Blurred Lines"; Marvin Gaye's family accused the song's authors of copying the "feel" and "sound" of "Got to Give It Up" (the song which Thicke personally claimed was an influence on "Blurred Lines"), while Bridgeport claimed that the song illegally sampled Funkadelic's song "Sexy Ways". In the lawsuit, Gaye's family was accused of making an invalid copyright claim since only expressions, not individual ideas can be protected. Pharrell responded to the lawsuit by calling the two songs "completely different", further stating: "Just simply go to the piano and play the two. One's minor and one's major. And not even in the same key." In an interview Questlove also echoed Pharrell's statement saying
"Look, technically it’s not plagiarized. It’s not the same chord progression. It’s a feeling. Because there’s a cowbell in it and a fender Rhodes as the main instrumentation — that still doesn’t make it plagiarized. We all know it’s derivative. That’s how Pharrell works. Everything that Pharrell produces is derivative of another song — but it’s an homage."
On May 14, 2013, Thicke performed the song for the first time live on NBC’s The Voice alongside Pharrell and T.I. The website of Rap-Up magazine described Thicke as looking "dapper" in "black suit", and that the trio were joined on stage by "sexy ladies during the steamy set". Thicke also performed the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on May 16 with Pharrell and three models doing backup. Thicke performed the song live at the finale of Germany's Next Topmodel, Cycle 8 on May 30, 2013, at SAP Arena in Mannheim. The performance featured the top 20 contestants of the cycle who danced to the song on chairs. The four finalists walked the runway during the performance, as well as performing a burlesque-like dance on different items of furniture. On June 7, 2013, Thicke performed the song alongside Pharrell on the British television chat show The Graham Norton Show. He also performed the song (with recorded T.I. and Pharrell backing vocals) on The Voice Australia season 2 finale on June 17, 2013. Thicke performed the song on the 2013 BET Awards on June 30, 2013. Thicke also performed the track solo on British morning TV show Lorraine on July 8, 2013, as well as This Morning on July 10, 2013. Thicke also performed the song complete with dancers in studio on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM Radio July 29, 2013. He also performed the song on The Colbert Report on August 6, 2013. On September 20, he performed Blurred Lines at the 2013 iHeartRadio Music Festival. On November 10, Thicke performed the song with Iggy Azalea at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards. In December, he performed the song at Jingle Ball 2013 concerts. In May 2014, Williams performed the song as part of a medley at the iHeartRadio Awards where he received the iHeartRadio Innovator Award.
Thicke performed Blurred Lines as a duet with Miley Cyrus at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, medleyed with Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" and "Give It 2 U", featuring 2 Chainz. The performance began with Cyrus performing "We Can't Stop" in bear-themed attire. Following this, Thicke entered the stage and Cyrus stripped down to a skin-colored two-piece outfit. Cyrus subsequently touched Thicke's crotch area with a giant foam finger and twerked against his crotch. The performance drew negative reactions and became the most tweeted about event in history, with Twitter users generating 360,000 tweets about the event per minute; breaking the previous record held by Beyoncé's Super Bowl XLVII halftime show performance six months earlier.
An ad was created for Radio Shack to market the Beats Pill, a small stereo, that showed Thicke, Pharrell and the models repeating the look of the (clothed) music video, but with the models holding up the Beats Pill.
On the June 12, 2013 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, in which Thicke and Pharrell were both guests, they aired a parody version of the "Blurred Lines" video in which host Jimmy Kimmel and his sidekick Guillermo attempt to join Thicke, Pharrell and the dancers but keep getting rebuffed. The parody video was also placed on YouTube, and received over 2 million views in less than a month.
A gender swapped parody video was created for the Nikki and Sara Live show airing on the July 30th, 2013 season two premiere, featuring the hostesses of the show being increasingly weirded out by naked male dancers and the unusual barnyard theme.
A parody of the song, referencing former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's allegations of sexually harassing women, was produced by U-T TV and was posted on YouTube.
On August 31, 2013, The University of Auckland's Law Revue produced an feminist inspired parody called "Defined Lines." The video received over 290,000 views in its first weekend on YouTube before being temporarily removed due to sexual content. It was subsequently reinstated a couple of days later, with YouTube owner Google admitting it 'made a mistake'.
On September 11, 2013, the drag queen group DWV (Detox, Willam Belli, and Vicky Vox), released a parody called "Blurred Bynes." The song is about Amanda Bynes and her behavior in the previous months.
On September 26, 2013, Yuko Oshima and Haruna Kojima of Japanese idol group AKB48 were featured in a parody video, together with Thicke and some of the original video's members to raise the profile of AKB48 in America while raising Thicke's profile in Japan.
On November 5, 2013, Dave Callan, as part of his review of Just Dance 2014 on the ABC show Good Game performed a parody of the music video in response to the incorrect choreography of the song in the game.
On December 19, 2013, the Canadian sketch comedy group Royal Canadian Air Farce released a parody of the music video called "Rob Ford's Blurred Lines" highlighting the recent admissions by Toronto mayor Rob Ford of public drunkenness and using crack cocaine.
In their reunion show transmitted on 26 May 2014, the cast of Goodness Gracious Me Special 2014 performed a parody of the song and video entitled "No Blurred Lines". The video begins with the three male leads being shown under on-screen labels of "#Thicke", "#Thicker" and "#Thickest" ('thick' being British slang for 'stupid'). The lyrics make fun of the stereotype of the rowdy male Asian-Indian teenage boy. As pointed to by its title, the lyrics also mock and refute the sexist attitudes of the original song.
In Chile, the song was used on Via X's TV show Super Bueno and Zona Latina's No eres tu soy yo; it was also included in the soundtrack of TV soap opera Somos Los Carmona, and was featured on TV adverts from Chilean department store chain La Polar.
It has been used as the first song on several radio stations flipping to CHR or similar formats, most recently on March 31, 2014, when CKZZ-FM in Vancouver, BC, Canada, rebranded from Virgin Radio 95.3 back to their original name as Z95.3.
The song was also performed by the Tusker Project Fame season 6 Contestants in their eighth week.
Sales and certifications
|Australia||March 26, 2013||Digital download||Main version||Star Trak|
|Germany||March 27, 2013|
|Italy||April 5, 2013||Contemporary hit radio||Universal|
|April 16, 2013||Rhythmic hit radio||Star Trak|
|May 21, 2013||Contemporary hit radio|
|United Kingdom||May 26, 2013||Digital download|
|Germany||May 31, 2013||CD single|
|Colombia||July 23, 2013||Digital Download||J Balvin remix|