10 years ago, 'Blurred Lines' was released. The controversial lyrics were just the tip of the iceberg.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of alleged sexual assault and domestic violence that may be distressing to some readers.

10 years ago, a song came on our radar that quickly shot to the top of the music charts.

It was 'Blurred Lines' — a song by American singer/songwriter Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams.

The song's beat was objectively well-received, but it was the lyrics that were met with widespread criticism. Dubbed the 'most controversial' song of the decade when it was released in 2013, 'Blurred Lines' was banned across numerous venues, including nightclubs and university campuses. 

And it had everything to do with the song's representation of consent. Or lack thereof. 

But it wasn't just the questionable lyrics that were cause for concern. In the years since, there's been allegations from Emily Ratajkowski of an assault on set, embarrassment over the song, a copyright lawsuit and more.

Watch the music video and song in question. Post continues below.

Video via YouTube.

The lyrics that sparked controversy.

For context, 'Blurred Lines' spent 33 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and held the top spot from late June until early September of that year. It resulted in a Grammy nomination for Thicke as well.


But there was also a significant amount of backlash too. Lyrics that were not well received, included the chorus:

"I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you're a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty."

Ultimately, many took issue with the "no means yes" message being presented throughout the song. And ever since there's been suggestion that 'Blurred Lines' glorified rape culture.

When asked for his take, Thicke told GQ Magazine in 2013: "People say, 'Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?' I'm like, 'Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman'. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women."

He later claimed his comments were taken out of context.

When asked directly by the BBC what he thought about critics who said the song promotes rape, he replied: "I think they should all... I can't dignify that with a response. That's ridiculous." 

Emily Ratajkowski said she was assaulted on the music video set.

The video for 'Blurred Lines' introduced the world to Emily Ratajkowski.

In her autobiography, My Body, Ratajkowski alleged that Thicke sexually assaulted her while she was on set for the video. She said Thicke groped her bare breasts from behind during filming. 

"Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt the coolness and foreignness of a stranger's hands cupping my bare breasts from behind. I instinctively moved away, looking back at Robin Thicke. He smiled a goofy grin and stumbled backward, his eyes concealed behind his sunglasses. My head turned to the darkness beyond the set," she wrote.


She said Thicke's actions made her feel "naked for the first time that day" but she'd been "desperate to minimise" the incident.

"I pushed my chin forward and shrugged, avoiding eye contact, feeling the heat of humiliation pump through my body. I didn't react – not really, not like I should have."

Image: Getty.

The video's director, Diane Martel, told The Sunday Times she witnessed the assault and screamed at Thicke, "What the f**k are you doing, that's it! The shoot is over!" 

"I remember the moment that he grabbed her breasts. One in each hand. He was standing behind her as they were both in profile," she said.


She explained that up until that point, "everything had been very sweet and enjoyable" and the women were comfortable. No men aside from the performers were allowed on set. The director said Thicke "sheepishly" apologised, before the shoot continued. 

Ratajkowski reflected: "With that one gesture, Robin Thicke had reminded everyone on set that we women weren't actually in charge. I didn't have any real power as the naked girl dancing around in his music video. I was nothing more than the hired mannequin."

Thicke is yet to respond publicly to the allegations.

Emily Ratajkowski isn't the only person to level accusations against Robin Thicke.

In 2017, Thicke's ex-wife, actress Paula Patton, accused him of domestic violence. The pair divorced in 2014.

Us Weekly reported that in court documents, Patton claimed that Thicke threatened multiple times to "bash my f**king head in", cheated on her with numerous women and that he had pushed her down and kicked her on one occasion.

Thicke has denied the accusations.

Robin Thicke said he was "high and drunk" during the height of 'Blurred Lines'.

The singer said he was dealing with a lapse in his sobriety. As per a legal deposition that's been unsealed, Thicke admitted: "I was high and drunk every time I did an interview last year." 

He also said he was "high and drunk" during the recording of the song as well.

It follows claims from both video director Diane Martel and Ratajkowski saying he was drunk during the music video shoot.

The copyright fiasco.

The song was embroiled in a copyright lawsuit after Marvin Gaye's family alleged 'Blurred Lines' ripped off his 1977 hit 'Got To Give It Up'.


After a long court process, the judge upheld a copyright infringement verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, saying their song had indeed illegally copied parts of another hit song. 

In the end, Gaye's family was awarded around US$5 million, and also received 50 per cent interest in ongoing royalties from the song.

Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. Image: YouTube.

Pharrell Williams said he's "embarrassed" by 'Blurred Lines'.

Initially, Williams defended the song to Pitchfork saying critics "just want to be mad." 


He's since changed his tune, telling GQ in 2019, "I realised 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 behaviour. 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."

He then explained that many of his old songs he 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."

What Robin Thicke has said about 'Blurred Lines' in recent years.

As noted in the early days of 'Blurred Lines' being released, Thicke discounted the criticism. 

Then in 2021, Thicke appeared to have some regret over the song and the message listeners had taken away from it.

"We had no negative intentions when we made the record, when we made the video. But then it did open up a conversation that needed to be had. And it doesn't matter what your intentions were when you wrote the song… the people were being negatively affected by it," he said to the New York Post.

"I think now, obviously, culture, society has moved into a completely different place. You won't see me making any videos like that ever again!"

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature Image: YouTube.