By Lucas Williams, Staff Writer
Hide your wives and hold the presses: Robin Thicke’s in trouble again. In an attempt to distance himself from accusations of plagiarism from the Marvin Gaye Estate, Robin Thicke admitted that he didn’t write about 80% of everyone’s favorite misogynistic jam of last summer, “Blurred Lines” — Pharrell Williams did. But does it really matter?
Thicke still sung those repulsive lines comparing women to animals and not taking “no” for an answer. His image is still inseparable from that sleazy referee he portrayed at the 2013 VMA’s and he’s still on record in countless interviews as stating that he wrote “Blurred Lines” in the recording studio.
All of this was stated in the name of preserving image and credibility. Consumers of music and culture want to believe that the artist is everything. They’re not just a singers, but songwriters, lyricists and instrumentalists. Nobody wants to hear about some faceless songwriter. We want to hear about the genius artist. We want an authentic superman.
Authorship disputes are nothing new in pop music. From Led Zeppelin to Beyonce, most major entertainers have had their songwriting skills questioned. But it shouldn’t matter who really writes a song. Michael Jackson didn’t write “Thriller,” Frank Sinatra wrote very few of his songs and Whitney Houston’s cute, breezy pop songs and ballads were mostly written by a bunch of men. But these entertainers are often named among the greatest artists in America. Of course, we can ignore their lack of songwriting; their voices make up for it.
A song written by someone else, however, may seem less believable. It’s not as easy to connect with a song we know isn’t written straight from the artist’s heart. But if consumers can live so vicariously to a song they didn’t write, then artists should theoretically be able to do the same.
And, self-songwriting often does not equate to great artistry. Whoop-de-doo, you wrote a song; it doesn’t mean you’re the next John Lennon. The real problem with Robin Thicke, though, is that through the flood of Vicodin and alcohol, he knew he didn’t write “Blurred Lines” (and the lyrics were also pretty crap). But during countless interviews, he still lied.
Robin Thicke lied not only to inflate his ego, but to adhere to our expectations of what an artist should be. That’s not to say he isn’t responsible for his new sex offender image or the allegations of plagiarism from a song released in his name, but the guy is a product of and a player into the pop culture machine.
In his effort to prove authenticity, Robin Thicke reveals himself to be wholly inauthentic. As for song authorship, let’s face it: it doesn’t really matter if pop stars like Katy Perry or Jason Derulo write their own songs. We’re just gonna dance to them in the basement of a grimy club anyway.