Sunday, January 19, 2014

Music Video Interpretation: Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke, ft. Pharrell Williams & T.I.

            I hardly know of anyone that doesn't like music. I enjoy a catchy tune, but what I find really impressive are lyrics and music videos that involve a lot of symbolism and rhetorical devices. Time permitting, I hope to be sharing reviews of a few that have stood out to me.
            However, today I will be reviewing a song that I hate, for reasons that I will explain.

            Our society is musically diverse. There is something out there for everyone, whether made by Americans or brought in from abroad. However, there are only a few genres that are able to produce Billboard Top 100 songs. It is interesting to see what tops the charts to see what is being enjoyed the most.
            When I first began to hear “Blurred Lines” last summer, by relatively new “artist” Robin Thicke (with a couple of others featured), I found it, like so many songs, to have a catchy beat but a bit hard to understand. In fact, its beat is undeniably catchy above any of the rest of the songs from the year, which is what propelled it to its popularity. I could, however, pick out a few lines and knew that it was either a song about wanting a “good girl” over a bad one, and hence could have potential, or was about WANTING a good girl, and was therefore disgusting.
            After continuing to hear people talk about it and hearing it around campus, I decided to look up a lyric video. I found that it was not only the latter, but that my initial thoughts far underestimated just how bad it was. I watched the popular music video, which besides being stupid with its random hashtags, simply increased how nasty the song is. It literally made me sick.
            (Here is a link to lyrics: and the music video:, although I give my expressed warning, there is a good amount of foul language, as well as sexual innuendos and lines that are too bold to be qualified as innuendos. In fact, I would recommend not even giving them any more than the 255 million views they already have.)
            At the very least - at BEST - this song is about an affair. But “good girls” don’t have affairs. Though Thicke denied it in multiple interviews, I see nothing else this song can be about than rape.
            What does not concern me so much is the fact that this song was written and performed in such a shameless way. Plenty of other musicians have written and performed things to this magnitude. What concerns me is how popular the song became, and still is.
            I think there are few people (this trio obviously being the exception) that would condone rape in America. Yet someone writes a song about it, hides it behind saying that really the lines are blurred and that women enjoy it, puts some danceable music to it (what a waste of decent music), and everyone is loving it.
            I will not be the one to claim that one is guilty by association in the music world, or in other areas. I will not say that if you listen to Michael Jackson you are condoning child molestation or if you buy products made in China you are condoning child labor. But this is a direct relation. We have to be aware of what the lyrics to songs are, and sacrifice a tune if it supports a heinous idea. “Blurred Lines” was named the hottest song of the summer and was one of the most popular of last year. Is this what we as a society want to support? We look at the mistreatment of women and sexual violence and wonder why it happens, why it is not tolerated less. There is no one single thing to blame for anything, but when we fall in love with a song that supports it, when we cause someone to rise to fame through throwing his support behind it, we can see part of the reason why we are in the mess we are in.
            Now this is not to say that those who have enjoyed this song are asking to get raped. When it comes to this crime, the criminal is the one to blame. No one is “asking to get raped”, no matter what they are wearing or what they do. But when it comes to preventing sexual violence, we have to make sure to include something that is such a huge part of our society: music. Music can get to us like few other things can, and can spread ideas like few other things can. We have allowed a song about rape to become one of the most popular of the year. What does this say about us?
            I am not alone in these thoughts. A fairly popular (and pretty funny) parody to “Blurred Lines” brought up these same subjects and called out Thicke for being a creep, as well as poked fun at the music video itself. I will warn you that it does still have foul language and discusses some of the sexual lyrics/images that is in the music video:
            Remember to be careful what you let into your minds. It can affect you without you even realizing it.

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