Marvin Gaye’s family says ‘Happy’ sounds like their dad’s hit ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’

We heard earlier this week that the family of the late Marvin Gaye had prevailed in court against defendants Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, the co-writers of 2013’s massive hit “Blurred Lines.” Gaye’s family claimed that the song violated copyright for their father’s 1977 song, “Got to Give It Up.” A jury agreed and awarded them $7.3 million in damages. Another claim in that same suit, that Thicke’s song “Love After War” violated the copyright for Gaye’s “After The Dance” was also found for the plaintiff (note that we incorrectly reported this yesterday) however the Gayes were only awarded $9,375 for that.

The thing is, the jury was merely comparing song snippets and sheet music for “Got to Give it Up” to “Blurred Lines.” That was due to the fact that only the sheet music for the original song was copyrighted. They weren’t allowed to actually hear the entire Marvin Gaye song to compare it to “Blurred Lines.” The NY Times has a very good editorial on how this ruling both sets a bad precedent in copyright law, and reveals the flaws in the current law. Modern musicians are unable, using current copyright law, to protect key aspects of their original songs. That leaves the door open for mimics to rip off a musician’s work and unique sound. Copywritten sheet music, typically used for older songs, is given precedence while the actual sound and techniques used are not as important, despite the fact they’re more integral to the music.

Anyway Entertainment Tonight has a new interview with Gaye’s family in light of this ruling. They’re thrilled of course, but they’re probably not going to see that money for a long time, if ever. The lawyer for Williams and Thicke has said thatWe are going to exercise every post-trial remedy we have to make sure this verdict does not stand” and that “We owe it to songwriters around the world to make sure this verdict doesn’t stand.” I have to say, now that I’ve had time to learn more about the verdict and the issues involved, I agree.

ET asked the Gayes about the similarity between Pharrell’s “Happy” and their dad’s 1966 hit “Ain’t That Peculiar.” Gaye’s family said the songs do sound alike but that they’re “not in that space right now” to sue yet again.

While the family was just awarded $7.4 million — and is currently seeking an injunction against the song — that doesn’t mean their legal battle is over. According to at least one user on YouTube, Williams’ 2014 mega-hit “Happy” bears a similar sound to Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar.”

“I’m not going to lie. I do think they sound alike,” Nona Gaye, Marvin’s 40-year-old daughter, said. However, she added that she wasn’t thinking about the legal implications right now. “We’re not in that space…

“I heard the mash-ups — but I didn’t really need to hear them,” said Janis Gaye. [Marvin’s widow] “I know ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’ and I’ve heard ‘Happy.’”

“Ain’t that peculiar,” quipped Marvin Gaye III.

Still, the family said they weren’t thinking about further legal action right now. “We’re not in that space. We’re just in the moment today and we’re satisfied,” Janis added.

So how does the family respond to critics who say that, even though “Blurred Line” and “Got to Give It Up” have a similar feel, that doesn’t mean the elements were stolen knowingly? Where is the line between theft and simply finding inspiration in music that came before your own?

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being inspired,” Nona explained. “I’ve been inspired when I made music before. Inspiration’s fine, but the line is when you decide to take the complete and utter essence out of the song. When you take all the meat, and leave the bones.”

Add to it the fact that Williams reportedly wrote “Blurred Lines” in under an hour, the Gayes feel like Williams cheated his way to the finished product.

“When I first heard that he had said he did it in an hour, my first thought was, ‘That’s because it was already done in 1977.'” Janis said. ” So why would it take you any longer than 20 minutes… to redo something that had already been done 40 years earlier?”

[From Entertainment Tonight]

The editorial in the NY Times I mentioned earlier also points out that Prince’s “Kiss” sounds very similar to “Got to Give It Up” too. Where does it end?

In the ET interview, they said that the turning point in the trial came when they played back an interview with Pharrell (for Despicable Me 2/Happy) in which he admitted that Marvin Gaye was a huge inspiration for him.

Let’s compare “Happy” and “Ain’t That Peculiar,” but I’d rather put both videos here instead of posting a mashup.

Here’s “Ain’t That Peculiar”:

“Happy,” which you probably don’t even need to hear.

Yes the two songs are similar but Pharrell’s is different enough to make his own, and he’s admitted that Marvin Gaye was a huge influence. I don’t think he ripped Gaye off at all, I think he took a style of music he loved and made it his own with creativity and flair, acknowledging the influence of a great artist. Pharrell is similarly an incredible artist who has worked hard to reach the astronomical success he’s achieved. Now Robin Thicke, that’s debatable.

Marvin Gaye

Photo credit: and Getty images

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124 Responses to “Marvin Gaye’s family says ‘Happy’ sounds like their dad’s hit ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’”

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  1. Bridget says:

    I agree, though I hate that the song at the crux of this is Blurred Lines. The Gaye’s reaction to this feels like sharks smelling blood.

    At the time he made the song Pharrel was working within the correct interpretation of the law: melody and lyrics, but not drums/”vibe” were under strict copyright laws. And that’s probably why he pre-emptively sued (good grief who thought that was a good idea?) because they should have won this case.

    • ShortyLove says:

      I listened to ‘Ain’t that peculiar’, and wasn’t hearing ‘Happy’ at all. Over 7 million for a resimblance is a massive amount of money!

      • Santia says:

        I’m hopeful Pharell will appeal and get it before a panel of judges; they will review the case and likely rule differently. The verdict is excessive and (allegedly) based solely on the sheet music (not the actual songs themselves).

      • FLORC says:

        Same. Not hearing happy in Gaye’s song. I am hearing dozens of other songs from that time period and more recently. It’s a sound. Lots of music carries the same sound, but its’ changed enough to be its own Blurred Lines was a huge rip off.

        Meh. Gaye’s family needs to settle down.

    • MsMercury says:

      I really don’t think there will be an appeal because Robin threw Pharrel under the bus. His testimony was pretty damaging and very funny.

      • nic919 says:

        I think Pharrel has to appeal because this decision in incorrect in law and just because Robin Thicke is a gross douchebag doesn’t mean that a similar baseline is a breach of copyright law.
        I also take issue with the fact that it is the estate of Marvin Gaye getting the benefit and not the guy who actually wrote the song. I know we are conditioned by Disney constantly extending the copyright law, but at what point do the descendants have to earn their own money and not ride of the coat tails of their dead relative decades after death? It’s not like this was a corporation where new product was created post death.
        And Happy doesn’t sound like Ain’t That Peculiar. They aren’t going to sue again because they won’t win on that one.

      • Bridget says:

        Robin Thicke may be the king of douche island, but that doesn’t mean Pharrell can’t appeal. And he should.

      • V4Real says:

        How did he throw Pharrel under the bus? Are you talking about his testimony where he said Pharrell wrote the entire song? If you are then he didn’t throw him under the bus. Pharrell testified before Robin where he admitted that he wrote the song. Robin testified second and just confirmed that Pharrell said was true.

      • lucy says:

        @nic19, regarding your personal stance that “I also take issue with the fact that it is the estate of Marvin Gaye getting the benefit and not the guy who actually wrote the song. I know we are conditioned by Disney constantly extending the copyright law, but at what point do the descendants have to earn their own money and not ride of the coat tails of their dead relative decades after death?”

        Marvin bequeathed his song rights to his children. That was his wish and his doing. So, that is why the estate, his heirs, his children have rights here. The songs are their property as a gift from their father.

        To anyone who doesn’t like that fact, I ask, ‘and why should Pharrell get to ride Marvin Gaye’s coattails?!” And why should the public have a say in determining who should receive Marvin Gaye’s property rights?

        I am really skeeved out by the prevalence of inappropriate entitlement that the public-at-large seems to be comfortable with and is willing to accept. Since when is it okay for someone to take someone else’s property for their own use? That’s called appropriation, and it lacks integrity.

      • Kitten says:

        @Lucy-Appropriation is something that artists have been doing for literally MILLENNIA.

        Your comment makes it sound like Pharrell was the first and only person to ever do this.

      • lucy says:

        @Kitten, If 500 other people robbed someone before I did, does it make my robbing them okay? Does it make the other 500 robbers legit?

        Appropriation = the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.

      • moodygirl says:

        “I am really skeeved out by the prevalence of inappropriate entitlement that the public-at-large seems to be comfortable with and is willing to accept. ” Amen. I thought it was just me.

      • Kitten says:

        Lucy-No. Appropriation is the intentional borrowing, copying, and alteration of preexisting images and objects. Artists do this ALL the time as part of their creative process.

        So you think Warhol, Oldenburg, Wesselman, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Banksy, every hip hop DJ, every turntablist, and every director who has ever reimagined a book “lacks integrity” simply because the artist borrowed an original piece and transformed it into their own vision?

        Well, we definitely disagree on that.

        I think a lot of people are getting a bit overly outraged over something that happens daily in the entertainment industry.

      • Bridget says:

        @Lucy: there’s a much bigger picture here: where’s the line between inspiration and plagiarism? Because there was a specific line, and this verdict essentially moves that line. Artists are continually inspired by other artists’ work, and while it can be boring and derivative it’s not considered theft unless it’s melody or lyrics. While the jury found Pharrell liable for damages because the “groove” and “feel” was the same. There’s a reason why chord progressions and rhythm aren’t a part of the copyright, and that’s because there’s such a finite number of combinations that can be created. As someone asked below, can the Beatles now sue for copying the feel of one of their song?

  2. Birdie says:

    I saw Marvin Gaye’s daughter crying and speaking to the press after the verdict. She acted like it was a murder trial and I found it completely over the top. She acted like she has been through so much. Sorry, but to me that’s just a money-grab. Aren’t they wealthy? Well now they tasted blood and “Happy” and other songs are next.

    • Zigggy says:

      I agree- it looked like a funeral!

    • Dońt kill me i'm french says:


    • truthSF says:

      I agree Birdie, Nona Gaye looked a damn fool crying about a freaking song. I guess since her movie career didn’t pan out after the Matrix films, she had to find another way to get some money.

    • Mary Ann says:

      I think it’s important to remember, though, that Pharrell and Robin Thicke sued the Gaye estate pre-emptively– the Gaye family didn’t start this. They were the ones taken to court. In light of that, I don’t feel too bad for Pharrell and Thicke, and I can understand why it was stressful for Marvin’s kids.

      • MsMercury says:

        agreed Mary Ann.

      • Bridget says:

        It was almost absurdly stupid for them to do that, BUT at the time is was glaringly obvious that the Gaye family was going to sue them. The Gaye family probably tried to play hardball and Pharrell thought he had the law on his side.

      • MandyMillJ. says:

        Thank you Mary Ann!

      • Tammy says:

        Stressful? How?

      • lucy says:

        @Tammy, “Stressful? How?”

        In case you are not being sarcastic, having a court case, even serving on a jury, is stressful — especially when the intense scrutiny additionally comes from beyond the courtroom and includes the media. Having one’s life dominated by a lawsuit can certainly feel suffocating and is an enormous burden. That is stressful! The emotional relief one would feel when it is over, and especially when justice prevails, would be abundant. I’m willing to bet that Pharrell was feeling as much stress at the Gaye family was, even though Pharrell was the aggressor in this instance.

      • outstandingworldcitizen says:


        It is their legacy. Why shouldn’t be emotional and entitled?! Some folks on this just get it and didn’t know those assholes came for the Gaye family. Mind you, Pharrell has been accused of plagiarism before. He’s been stealing from Roy Ayers for years.

    • Addison says:

      For real! LOL! That is ridiculous. I’ll have to go and look that up so that I can LOL a little more.

    • roxy750 says:

      Total money grab. Sorry, but the songs DO NOT SOUND ANYTHING ALIKE. Seriously, there are only so many beats in the world. I mean really? Stupid.

      • Kiki04 says:

        Agreed agreed agreed! This just screams money grab, and honestly I don’t hear the similarities. I hope they end up appealing and having it overturned, as much as I could care less about Robin Thicke it’s just a bad precedent.

      • Kitten says:

        I’m with you, dude, 100%

    • jaye says:

      I was just thinking the same thing. Huge money grab. The Gaye family is probably combing through Pharell’s music catalog looking for songs with similar hand claps or vocal inflections. They might as well go after every musician who was influenced by Marvin Gaye. El DeBarge, Prince and Maxwell immediately come to mind. Hell, can they sue Michael Jackson posthumously?

  3. Zigggy says:

    Ugh- where does it stop?

    • jane16 says:

      Hopefully it stops with people ripping off other peoples music. So, what…because the Gaye family won this lawsuit (which was not started by them), they should just sit back and let everyone else copy their Dad’s hits? What the heck? Nowadays, you can play an old hit you like on any number of computer apps and take the chord progressions and change the tempo and rhythm, take out something here, add something there, and voila, a new song. In my generation, people wrote songs by playing around with their instruments and coming up with their own melodies and rythyms. They are tired of these thinly disguised versions of their songs making more money than the original verisons. If you want to rip off an older artist, do it with their permission. For a change.

      • jaye says:

        Who ripped off their dad, exactly? Blurred Lines and Got to Give it up sound nothing alike. Happy and Ain’t that Peculiar sound nothing alike. Someone put the thought in their heads and, seeing a huge payday, they brought this ridiculous lawsuit. There is a clear difference between a musician who is influenced by legends like Marvin Gaye and outright ripping off said legends music.

      • moodygirl says:

        Sam Smith ripped off Tom Petty and a second artist with the refrain of “Stay with Me” – it was copied note for note – and had to give up half the money he earned for that song. Sam Smith then accepted a Grammy with a smile on his face. Maybe newer “artists” think that no one will be the wiser or they will still make money.

      • Bridget says:

        @jane16 In every generation there are ‘artists’ and those that are in it for purely commercial reasons, and that includes yours as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are copyright laws that very specifically address what IS and what ISN’T plagiarism.

  4. Kiki says:

    Non Gaye needs to give it a rest. You’ve got your 7.1 million, be “Happy” (pun intended) about, now Pharell song, happy is just similar to the Marvin Gaye’s song, but that is different chord and arrangements completely.

    So give it a rest, will ya!

    • lucy says:

      @Kiki, per the article, above, “ET asked the Gayes about the similarity between Pharrell’s “Happy” and their dad’s 1966 hit “Ain’t That Peculiar.” Gaye’s family said the songs do sound alike but that they’re “not in that space right now” to sue yet again.”

      Why o why is everyone so eager to play Blame the Victim?!!!

  5. GingerCrunch says:

    A thousand thanks for posting that Marvin video! It made me SO happy (pun intended). He was the GREATEST! There’s no argument there.

  6. Nancy says:

    This is a molehill made into a mountain! Pharrell W acknowledges he was inspired by MG. This is a family that sees $$ ! They do not nor should not receive a penny from this lawsuit!

    MG was awesome. No discredit to him!

    • Bridget says:

      A LOT of music has been inspired by Marvin Gaye, but there is supposed to be a difference between “inspiration” and “plagiarism”.

      • MandyMillJ. says:

        I think that is the fine line that in this particular instance was crossed. It is such a fine line that at times I understand why it is hard to tell which is which.

      • Bridget says:

        That’s the thing: it’s not a fine line. The songs themselves – melody, lyrics – are nothing alike. That’s why this is a big deal: is the use of a cowbell in the rhythm/bassline now solely the property of Marvin Gaye? The verdict is trying to apply a line where there previously wasn’t one, and that’s a big deal.

    • Merritt says:

      Pharrell and Thicke sued the family first. So they brought this whole mess on themselves. And given all the tragedy in the Gaye family, I can see why his children want to protect their father’s legacy.

      • V4Real says:

        I think that was a preemptive strike on Pharrel’ part. The Gaye’s were already saying that the song sounded like their father’s. Therefore Pharrel struck first.

        He didn’t just sue them out of the blue

  7. lila fowler says:

    This is really getting ridiculous.

  8. Skins says:

    Be careful, if you write a song now that sounds anything like a riff from 40 years ago you will pay.

  9. Scarlet Vixen says:

    Sounds like this recent ‘victory’ has gone to their heads. Sorry, but I have heard both “Ain’t that peculiar” and “Happy” hundreds of times each, and I have never put the two together.

    Pop music is so limited in it’s simplistic chord structures and desire to find that ‘hook’ that makes it easy to sing along to and get you stuck singing it that by nature it is going to in essence borrow from itself over and over again. Pop got it’s start from Jazz and Blues–both of which are heavily steeped in a tradition of borrowing/sharing/riffing on/rearranging/etc. How many different versions of jazz standards like “Mack the Knife” or “Fly me to the Moon” have you heard? Probably dozens. You take a simple melody and play on it and make it your own. Hell, Classical musicians did it centuries ago. So, I think this whole situation sits a dangerous precedent of saying, “Hey, your song uses the same 3 chords as mine and a tambourine–you copied me!!”

    • Bridget says:

      That’s exactly why chord progressions aren’t subject to copyright law – there’s only so many ways it can be arranged.

  10. lucy2 says:

    There’s some influence in Happy, but it doesn’t feel as close as Blurred Lines did. I think they should be happy with the verdict (especially since they were sued first) and not push their luck going after other songs.

  11. Mindy says:

    I think they are grasping at straws with that one.. BUT…

    They should take every last dime of Robin Thicke’s money. Go compare Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” (

    to Robin Thicke’s “Million Dollar Baby” (

    The man is a THIEF. It’s almost a blatant note for note rip off.

    • Mel M says:

      Wow, why hasn’t this one been brought up? Did he credit him or something?

    • Lucy2 says:

      Wow, that is pretty blatant thievery.

    • MooHoo says:

      incredible. what audacity?

    • jaye says:

      Yeah…that’s pretty blatant.

      • Mindy says:

        In oder to credit Marvin for ‘Million Dollar Baby’ – he would have had to TALK with the Gaye Estate (Marvin’s kids OBVIOUSLY have his publishing rights) IF he had a relationship with them previously, do you think they would have sued for ‘Blurred Lines’? DOUBTFUL – he would have went to them AGAIN and made some sort of arrangement.

        The Gaye family should stop trying to get more out of Pharrell… HONESTLY, I feel that Robin had MUCH MORE to do with Blurred Lines than he said in court. HE’s the one the need to sue for every dime.

      • Mel M says:

        Wow Mindy I was being facetious, sorry I forgot to put LOL at the end. You can settle down now.

  12. MandyMillJ. says:

    I’m kind of surprised by the negative reactions toward the family. I know music and books aren’t the same thing but you aren’t allowed to just copy what someone wrote in a book. And I’m sorry but again these songs are VERY similar. Marvin Gaye can’t stand up for his music so I’m glad his family is and they have a right to.
    Of course there are so many songs that have similarity to each other and it isn’t stealing or ripping someone off but there are instances where artists think they can get away with taking another person’s song, changing it up a little bit, and then using it as their own.

    If someone else came up with the riff or anything else about the song, then you should have it cleared before you make your song. You should have to pay. It is someone elses work.

    I think there are bigger issues to this than just this song. The copy right laws need to be more clear.

    • nic919 says:

      The copyright laws are clear. Melody and lyrics can be copyrighted but chord progressions can’t. There are only so many combinations you can make and this decision is incorrect in law. Because what is next? The Beatles suing everyone for using only C chords, F chords and G chords in songs?
      This is a jury decision and they decided based on the baseline sounding similar and Robin Thicke being a douchebag. It’s going to get appealed and judges who know how to interpret law will overturn this decision.

  13. bella says:

    kinda have a pit in my stomach with anyone trying to bring down pharrel and his incredible talent…
    lots of songs have similar elements.
    has anyone ever heard a new song and thought it reminded you of a song you loved growing up but could’t put your finger on it?
    truth is inspirational roots could shine through in all music.
    this is crazy…
    and yes i agree with previous posts…
    the gaye’s are money grabbing and acting over the top as though this was a murder trial.
    i was thinking during gaye’s daughter’s interview after the verdict that she was so emotional probably because the emotion of the verdict was stirring up the painful memories of how her dad’s life came to an end…
    it couldn’t be because pharrel had made a song that sounded like her dad’s…

    • jane16 says:

      Do you mean you have a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach?

      • bella says:

        ah, thanks for the semantics correction…i omitted the “bad feeling”…
        yeah…that’s what i meant.
        happy for your proofreading

      • jane16 says:


      • bella says:

        ya know, i don’t want to get into a back and forth on this – but i have to speak up.
        while the “correct” way to convey what i was saying would be to say i” have a bad feeling in the pit of stomach…”
        i believe most bostonians express this emotion by saying “i have a pit in my stomach…”
        and i’m not sure why semantics need to be called out on a gossip site post…a place to go for fun…
        just sayin…😁

      • jane16 says:

        No offense…I’ve never heard the phrase “I have a pit in my stomach” and it stood out to me for some reason. I thought of someone swallowing a whole cherry or something. I love Massachusetts and the wonderful way they talk, but admit I have spent very little time in Boston, mostly Cape Cod. The people there are so nice and interesting.

      • jane16 says:

        Bella, I know I write in SoCal-speak all the time. We’re all products of our environment and generation.

    • bella says:

      so, if no offense meant then why take the time to post pointing out the semantics.
      i’d have more respect for you if you admitted you were insulting me…

  14. Judyk says:

    Oh, give it a rest already and be happy with the $7 million + settlement.

  15. Lucy says:

    Just one thing (and obviously I’m not talking about Celebitchy): WHY is Pharrell the only one who’s being brought down by all the media? He is a well-respected musician, producer, singer and songwriter, and has been for years. He has REAL talent and knowledge about music, not to mention he has talked about Marvin’s influence in his work more than once. I’m not saying Pharrell holds no responsibility on this, but it’s Thicke they should have gone after first and foremost. And, coincidentally, he was the very first one to throw Pharrell under the bus.

    • FingerBinger says:

      Pharrell was the primary writer and producer that’s why people are going after him. Thicke only sang the song even though he tried to claim otherwise.

  16. Michelle says:

    So are Marvin’s kids going to go through Pharrell’s entire music catalog looking for another big payday? No judge is actually going to entertain this, especially after his daughter was crying like it was a murder trial after the ruling. This is an obvious attempt at getting more money. Unfortunately sometimes songs sound a bit alike. This is a definite attempt at a money-grab.

  17. misstee says:

    I despise Robin Thicke – I don’t have a dog in the fight for Pharrell – but I do have some experience in music production and engineering – and I listened to those two songs yesterday and there is no way Pharrell/Thicke was a direct steal – look up a Youtube video called ‘4 chords’ too see how dangerous it is to set a demarcation line like this.

    – this new fight I will have to check out the songs, but it sounds to me like the Legacy is overly flexing itself – songs are inspired, hooks reused, melody loops spliced all the time – its part of the creative process for a lot of people

    • Judyk says:

      Thank you! Exactly what Kathie Lee said yesterday on TODAY. The verdict may have been correct or may not have been, but the Greedy Gaye Family needs to drop it now.

      Zero respect for Robin Thicke, but I admire and respect Pharrell.

    • Kitten says:

      YES. A voice of reason.

  18. Rhiley says:

    I was really surprised by the Sam Smith/Tom Petty verdit. To me it was really a stretch that Sam Smith blatantly ripped off Won’t Back Down, but that was only because I was familiar with other cases- Vanilla Ice/David Bowie, Flaming Lips/Cat Stevens, for instance- in which it was very obvious that the original song had been ripped off. I thought Tom Petty and Sam Smith both handle things pretty graciously, but perhaps Sam Smith should have fought a little harder.

    • Reece says:

      I didn’t agree with that one either. But I figured sometimes it’s just easier to pay them off and make them go away. You end up paying more for the attorneys than anything else.

    • lucy2 says:

      I think Smith/Petty was all handled and settled out of court. Smith & his team didn’t fight it at all, just added him as a writer and forked over some cash, from what I can tell.

    • Kitten says:

      Petty said he thought it was simply “a musical accident” and that Sam Smith “did the right thing.”

    • Bridget says:

      Tom Petty has historically let it slide when there have been similarities to his songs – it was unusual that Smith had to pay up. But did Sam Smith even write the song?

      • Tiffany :) says:

        It wasn’t Petty that went after Sam Smith. It was Petty’s publishers.

        Warner/Chappell Music, Sony/ATV published Petty’s song and Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group published Sam’s song. There is some overlap that might have paved the way.

      • Bridget says:

        i’ve heard so much of Sam Smith for the past year, but for some reason aside from his nice voice I don’t find him particularly compelling so I hadn’t even taken the effort to look and see if he writes his own music.

  19. Maria says:

    the songs are similar but after seeing the Gaye family i dont have symapthy at all for them. they appeared at the trial like it was a murder trial and they had to face the murderers.

  20. Cali2002 says:

    The fact that most people are approving plagiarism is disgusting, no wonder students are having such a hard time getting it in school – look at the adults! Blurred Lines is clearly stolen from Gaye – end of story. Happy is not theft of property and THAT song would be a good example of “inspiration” not the rapey anthem, Blurred Lines!

    • Greyson says:

      I agree! It’s despicable people are co-signing his actions because they happen to “like” Pharrell..

    • misstee says:

      It really isn’t Cali – there is a fine line admittedly, but this is not a straight copy slightly adjusted. ive even listened to the song mash on youtube of the two songs. If you have ever taken part in the creative process of songwriting – MODERN songwriting using loads of tech, loop creation etc then its easier to spot a rip.

      I hate Blurred Lines, I hate Robin Thicke, I don’t give a rats ass about Pharrell, I LOVE Marvin Gayes music – but Blurred Lines a copywrite infringement?


    • lucy says:

      @Cali2002, I’m with you on this. The prevalent social acceptance of plagiarism, theft, infringement, appropriation, stealing, sampling without permission, piracy, copying — WHATEVER it is called — is disgusting and contemptible and illegal. We have a legal system to parse and enact justice, to protect rightsholders and uphold the law. A lotta armchair judges out there…. A lot of people willing to place blind allegiance with their emotions and not understand the facts. Crowd mentality is dangerous and unhealthy. It takes courage and integrity to see through the hype and hysteria and to live accordingly.

      • Bridget says:

        Our legal system works within a specific set of rules, and according to those rules “Blurred Lines” wasn’t plagiarism. Now, we can talk about quality all we want and that is an entirely different question – SHOULD the song have been such a big hit? Probably not as it’s clearly derivative work. But that’s on us, the consumers.

      • lucy2 says:

        I’m not a musician, and I don’t fully understand the complexities of the copyright on musical elements. To my untrained ear, the songs sound similar enough that I understand why the jury reached that verdict, but reading the comments, I can also understand why those with more musical knowledge disagree.

        But I’m fully with you on the social acceptance of taking another person’s work. I know a few people who have had their artwork flat out stolen for other products, by other “artists” or by big companies, and I know of one well known, commercially successful artist who used another artist’s work as her own and put it on many products (despite being vigilant about their own copyright). That artist was decent enough to admit their wrong doing, but the comments that followed were infuriating. So many said “oh it’s OK, it’s no big deal” and others thought the original artist should be “flattered”. NO. They shouldn’t be flattered, they should be pissed off, and properly compensated. You can’t use someone’s work without their permission, and you sure as hell can’t turn around and sell it as your own.
        When people don’t stand up for intellectual property rights, it devalues artists everywhere – who already have a hard enough time being paid for their work.

      • Bridget says:

        It’s absurd when people use loopholes to lift other folks’ work, and while I’m personally disappointed that Pharrell would use such a similar beat/bassline without compensating the Gaye family, it doesn’t change the fact that the jury ignored the standards that were already in place. I think it’ll be interesting to see if the standards are updated and how that would work.

  21. Greyson says:

    I seriously don’t get the hate directed toward Gaye’s heirs!

    That is the root of what’s wrong with society today. No sense of integrity or respect for what came before them. The Gaye Estate won because Pharrell ripped off their song. They are in the right, and legitimate claims are treated as money grabs?

    Blame the victim mentality due to the simple-minded who don’t want to acknowledge unjust things like this happens every day. We need to fix the problem, not rail against those who speak up.

    • lucy says:

      @Greyson, HEAR, HEAR!

      I hadn’t read farther down the list before I posted mine.

      Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but there is no respect in calculatedly copying another artist’s work and punishing them for noticing.

  22. gia says:

    I don’t care about them going after Pharrel again, he learned his lesson. Now Ed Sheeran latest hit (can’t recall the title) that was a blatant rip off of “Let’s Get it On”. Sheeran should have lawyers on stand-by. Go get ’em Gaye’s!

    • Q says:

      Thinking Out Loud! I’m shocked it’s not being reported on! It is such an obvious rip-off! Hope the Gaye family takes him to court.

  23. angee says:

    This is insane. Who’s going to sue Marvin Gaye posthumously for who his songs’ rhythm/base sounded like? I can understand if Pharrell et al absolutely ripped off lyrics or melody (like rock and roll darlings Led Zeppelin did to old blues singers and their songs – want to talk about being ripped off…) but to say a base/rythm line OWNED by someone is absurd. Pharell et al need to appeal this nonsense otherwise it sets a bad precedent.

    • Judyk says:

      Totally agree w/ what you said. This needs to stop now, or it’s going to get out of control. I’m so sick of juries, without any common knowledge of legal issues, and who are given obscure guidelines that even people with legal backgrounds have trouble comprehending, make life-changing decisions when they lack the background to do so. Bad decisions, based on lack of education, affect people and industries for life. Our judicial system needs some major overhauling.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      “I can understand if Pharrell et al absolutely ripped off lyrics or melody (like rock and roll darlings Led Zeppelin did to old blues singers and their songs –”

      Great point!

  24. G says:

    Yes it sure does. I knew when I heard “Happy” I had heard it before. That Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars song “Uptown Funk” is next.

  25. LaurieH says:

    Here’s the thing: at it’s core, music is mathematics. There are a finite number of tonal sounds (note) and a finite number of combinations of those notes. As music becomes more and more prevalent and more and more somgs are being written and cranked out yearly, the odds are almost 100% that at least part of a song will be similar (if not the same) as some other song. The instrumentality may be different, the beat and tempo may be different, the lyrics and “tone” of the song different, but the melody and chord progressions will be similiar/the same.

    The question is – can someone copyright a chord progression? Or melody? There are only so many combinations, afterall. And I think one would surely find that even Marvin Gaye’s songs have similiar melodies and chord progressions from other songs in the past. It’s almost an inevitability.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I completely agree.

      There are only so many options that an audience will interpret as uplifting, as dark and scary (dissonant), etc.

      It is kind of like how every modern romance in some way parallels aspects of Romeo and Juliet, which no doubt was not original in its time.

    • Ash says:

      Exactly, LaurieH. I don’t think this verdict is a great thing. I understand copyright law. I completely understand filing a lawsuit for a song that’s a blatant ripoff of a previous one, especially if the current songwriter didn’t seek permission from the original songwriter. But similar chords/notes? There is a finite number of those and combinations.

      Great post!

    • Judyk says:

      Yes, exactly!

  26. Heather says:

    Now I am just getting disgusted with the Gaye family. Money grab is right. After seeing the interviews after the verdict, I just had that feeling….that says something ain’t right.

  27. Ugh pls says:

    When you are as influential an artist as Marvin Gaye was than a lot of music is going to sound similiar, Pharrel even has a similar vocal range to Gaye’s although not the emotional range.
    The problem stems from one simple act – Pharrel just had to ask for the rights to use the backing track, pay the fee, and give Gaye credit. Would have been cheaper and easier in the long run. And from what i understand all the Gaye family wanted was acknowledgement that their fathers work influenced the song, that’s not a lot to ask. I don’t think thicke or Pharrel did this intentional or maliciously I think they were trying to honor that legacy and took a little too much of it chord for chord.
    I guess what I’m saying is that this could have been easily avoided.

  28. jane16 says:

    Also, if you read the Billboard article (it is short), you notice the Gaye Family attorney says the judges ruling to not allow the songs to be played was a hindrance for their side, not for Williams and Thicke. I keep reading in peoples comments that the fact that they went by the sheet music would help Williams & Thicke overturn the verdict.

    I think we will see a lot more music plagiarism due to the prevalence of these music apps that let you take apart an existing song, and make changes to it. I think that’s how a lot of young modern songwriters come up with a lot of songs. I have seen these things at the NAMM Shows, which I attend almost every year. I don’t listen to modern pop by choice, but when I hear it, it always make me think of computer generated music. And yes, I am old, and old school, but I do play several instruments (started at age 6) and can still sing, and have done both studio and stage work many times over my life. My friends in the music world (also old and old school) are not “rocked” by this decision as those dumb editorials claim, they see it as a good thing and hope it will slow this trend of copying other peoples music.

  29. Helena says:

    This explains this case perfectly and why the jury got it SOOOO wrong.

    • jane16 says:

      Huh? That video shows how several songs have the same chords. You cannot sue for chords. You can sue for melody or lyrics. This lawsuit was not about chords.

      • helena says:

        They might as well sue for chord progression because this verdict was based on the base line and that cowbell.

      • jane16 says:

        Helena, there is an old Billboard article from last Fall that lists the 8 (I think) different elements that are exactly the same in both songs and were the basis of the suit. I tried to link the article yesterday, but it didn’t pass moderation for some reason. But you might want to look it up since you’re interested. There were two pros, both women with extensive musical ed, who broke it down.

      • jane16 says:

        btw, that video you posted about the four chords (which is very good)…that has been taught by music teachers for decades. My son just reminded me of how I played those same chords for his band recently when they were doing an old Yardbirds song and their rhythm guitarist was sick. My son is the lead guitarist.

  30. Iheartgossip says:

    Here we go. The greed has kicked in. Shesh.

  31. jane16 says:

    A lot of emotion here from the Pharrell fans. These kind of lawsuits have always happened and happened to many great bands that I love. I think most of the time the plagiarism was unintentional, like the latest Led Zep/Spirit suit. I know I still enjoy hearing the Doors (sued by the Kinks over Hello I Love You) or George Harrison, or Led Zep (sued several times) and many more. No one is suggesting that anything bad should happen to Pharrell or that his popularity will wane. He will no doubt continue making the music you love. This really isn’t earth shattering. I don’t get all the vitriol directed at the kids. I think most people would do the same thing, if they have the means.

  32. helena says:

    Ain’t that peculiar isn’t by the way written by Marvin Gaye. Michael Jackson was sued for Thriller even when he didn’t write it. There is a lot of greed and jealousy in music business.

  33. elo says:

    I certainly hear the comparison of Blurred Lines and Got to Give it Up. I don’t hear the comparison of Happy/Peculiar at all, but rather an inspiration.

  34. Pariz says:

    Hopefully Ed Sheeran paid his dues cuz that would be a slam dunk case.