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Pharrell Says He Did Not Copy Marvin Gaye with ‘Blurred Lines’

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Pharrell Williams testified on Wednesday that his hit song “Blurred Lines” and the influential Marvin Gaye 70s track “Got to Give It Up” share the same “feel,” but that he didn’t infringe upon Gaye’s work.

Marvin Gaye’s children, Frankie and Nona Gaye, are suing the Grammy-winning producer over the song, claiming that it steals beats and chords from their late father’s song.

Pharrell spent over an hour describing his musical process to the court, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He said that he saw similarities between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” when interviewers pointed it out after the song was released but that borrowing Gaye’s work wasn’t a conscious decision.

“I must’ve been channeling that feeling, that late-’70s feeling,” Pharrell testified. “Sometimes when you look back on your past work, you see echoes of people. But that doesn’t mean that’s what you were doing.”

The “Happy” singer’s testimony will play a crucial role in the jury’s decision. Though Robin Thicke and T.I. share writing credits on the song, which has earned $16 million, both admit that Pharrell wrote the music and almost all of the lyrics. Thicke testified in an earlier deposition that he was drunk and high on Vicodin in the studio.

“The reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song,” Thicke said, even though he had once taken credit for the song in interviews. “I felt it was a little white lie that didn’t hurt his career but boosted mine,” Thicke added in court on Feb. 25.

Pharrell told the jury that Gaye was one of his idols growing up and that he would never intentionally steal from him. “He’s one of the ones we look up to so much. This [court] is the last place I want to be right now,” he testified. “The last thing you want to do as a creator is take something of someone else’s when you love him.”

The trial has included an analysis of chords and notes from each track. Here is one of the many mashes of the two songs on YouTube:


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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com