There has been no shortage of controversy surrounding “Blurred Lines,” the 2013 party anthem co-written by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. Not only has the club banger been the focal point of a lawsuit lodged against Williams and Thicke, but it has also been dubbed a hall pass for rape culture.
In a recent interview with GQ for their New Masculinity issue, Williams placed distance between himself and the popular track, confessing that he would never write or sing the song today.
“Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today. I get embarrassed by some of that stuff. It just took a lot of time and growth to get to that place,” Pharrell said.
He admits that initially, he didn’t really see the issue with the lyrics of “Blurred Lines,” but in retrospect, he understands how the lyrics feed into rape culture.
“I think “Blurred Lines” opened me up. I didn’t get it at first. Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, wow. They would have me blushing,” said the Virginia native. “So when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was, like, What are you talking about? There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up. And I know you want it—women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So it’s like, What’s rapey about that?”
Williams went on to say that while his intent was never to objectify women or promote rape culture, he slowly began to understand how men could take his words and use them for that purpose.
“And then I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women. And I was like, Got it. I get it. Cool. My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel. Even though it wasn’t the majority, it didn’t matter. I cared what they were feeling too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realized that. Didn’t realize that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”
He added that it wasn’t until “Happy” that he stepped back and recognized the power and influence of his music.
“And then here comes ‘Happy,’ a record that I didn’t write for myself, that I ended up being on, that made people feel happy. I wrote that song for CeeLo. I don’t have the capacity to write that kind of song for myself. When I do songs for myself, they’re always too complicated, and too smart, with six bridges. Because I’m weird like that. But when I do stuff for other people, that allows me to channel things for them, and so the universe set up the perfect conditions to get me to write a song like that. That made me cry. It literally made me cry. Like, I was on the Oprah show for my birthday, and she showed me a video of people around the world singing that song, and that sh-t f-cked me up. Bad. I was never the same. So I don’t beat on my chest. I haven’t been the same since any of that music.”
Personal evolution is a beautiful thing. You can check out Pharrell’s full interview here.