Recently I had a discussion with someone over Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines.” I believe it has been listed as the heavy favorite for “song of the year.” However, I saw several news stories that question whether or not Thicke actually “stole” the song from the late Marvin Gaye. The articles I read claimed that parts of Marvin Gaye’s song “Got to give it up” were actually “sampled” by Thicke for his song. In one of the articles, there was even an alleged “expert” who said that the “bass lines” were in fact stolen from Gaye. I am not sure what classifies someone as an “expert” in identifying parts of songs, but I would like to say that I have something called “perfect pitch.” With perfect pitch, I can hear certain elements of songs and know the parts without having to pick up an instrument to verify it. My perfect pitch allows me to play just about “everything” without having to practice “anything.” I do not like it when “anyone” decides to steal music from another, although it happens a lot more than you might think in this industry. I have played (and even sung) BOTH songs many times, and “know” the similarities and differences between the two tunes too well. First, I will say that the tempo and the drum beats are “extremely” similar. However, that much is “not enough” by itself to constitute any plagiarism on Thicke’s part. The melody lines of each song are “no where near close” to each other, so in that regard there is also no theft. The lyrics are definitely not the same, so Thicke is safe there as well. The chord pattern/structure is also “not” identical by any means. The two songs are also in two different keys. If you played them both concurrently in the same key at the same time, they would still “not” match at all. Finally, no matter what the so called “experts” say about the songs, the bass lines are “absolutely” different. I have played the bass lines to both, and I promise there is “no” bass similarity between them. The styles of the two songs are “definitely” similar, but copying a style is NOT the same as copying the “song.” I didn’t detect “ANY” sampling of Gaye’s tune “Got to give it up” (unless, they sampled the drum part, which wouldn’t make much sense, because similar drum tracks “can” be used for different songs). I have heard that Thicke is actually suing Gaye’s family over whether or not they believe there is copyright infringement. The fact that “he is suing them” means that even “he” realizes the closeness in the way his tune sounds. When I work with artists to put a song together, I often ask them to give me a particular song and artist whose style they would like me to “emulate.” Emulating a style is not the same as stealing a song. Most times to emulate a song I would focus on a drum beat and tempo that would be similar to the track and I would focus on the “sound quality” of each instrument, but I absolutely would “not” steal any aspect of the music. To me, I do believe that Thicke wanted to have a song that copied the “style” of Marvin Gaye’s song. I have no doubt about that in my mind, because when you hear it, the style is absolutely there. However, when it comes to “individualized” components of the song, the similarities end there. I have no idea what will come out in court, but I do know this much: Robin Thicke did “NOT” steal Marvin Gaye’s song “Got to Give it up.” If he did, I would be the very FIRST to say it. However, judges in courts may not have the same ear as me and good lawyers have ways of “twisting the truth.” Time will tell on this one. I guess we will have no other alternative but to “hurry up”… and “wait.” Hope your day is a great one.
Aretha Franklin and Brett Jolly onstage