Same That Tune Founder Weighs In On Robin Thicke-Marvin Gaye Lawsuit

Share Article

Hit songs are always indebted to the past.

Songs become hits precisely because they remind us of sounds that we've previously heard.

Last Thursday, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I. filed a lawsuit against Marvin Gaye’s family and Bridgeport Music to protect their hit song Blurred Lines, which has garnered unfavorable comparison to Gaye’s Got To Give It Up and Funkadelic’s Sexy Ways (

As Steve Nathanson, founder of explains, hit songs are always indebted to the past:

“Songs become hits precisely because they remind us of sounds (e.g. melodies, rhythms, chord changes, production) that we've previously heard. It is for this reason that labels seek new artists that sound like currently successful artists. Publishers seek songs that sound like other successful songs. It requires a certain level of skill to emulate another artist without sounding like a carbon copy. To his credit, Pharrell possesses such skill. However, Blurred Lines definitely pushes the boundaries of a tribute track. Similarities to Got To Give It Up include the cowbell part, vintage-sounding snare, handclaps, Fender Rhodes, studio chatter, and falsetto crooning (

The real question is Did Marvin Gaye create a distinctive and recognizable sound by combining the aforementioned elements? Artists such as Tom Waits have successfully claimed infringement based on a sound and not a particular melody. With respect to Sexy Ways by Funkadelic, Blurred Lines’ vocal melody—also sung falsetto--bears some resemblance, but not enough to warrant Bridgeport’s claims.”

In fact, Funkadelic founder George Clinton recently tweeted his support for Thicke and Williams, stating “No sample of #Funkadelic's 'Sexy Ways' in @RobinThicke's 'Blurred Lines' - yet Armen Boladian thinks so? We support @RobinThicke @Pharrell!” Clinton and Boladian, owner of Bridgeport, have had their own litigious history.

“At the end of the day this is about the almighty dollar, and not artistic freedom, which explains why Thicke and company sued their heroes to preserve their earnings.” To vote on the similarity between these songs (and to hear other song comparisons), please visit

Steve Nathanson is a music industry veteran, musician, and founder of entertainment site Same That Tune, which allows individuals to post, vote, and comment on perceived musical similarities between songs.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Steve Nathanson
since: 04/2013
Follow >
Same That Tune
since: 04/2013
Like >
Visit website