Let’s just imagine that you, the reader, are a member of the Gaye family. Ha ha, very mature, reader. Can we move on now? Okay, so imagine that you are a Gaye—god damn it, reader, please stop giggling—and you have just been awarded an unprecedented seven-figure sum by a jury who decided that Pharrell Williams’ and Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit single “Blurred Lines” ripped off your deceased family member Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got To Give It Up” based on the nebulous concept of “feel.”
You’d feel pretty good, right? Good enough to play Williams’ feel-good single, “Happy,” on your iPod? Well, let’s imagine that that’s what you did. So you’re walking down the street, and “Happy” begins to play, and the sudden, sinking realization washes over you that this song—which you are hearing for the first time, even though it’s on your iPod—is remarkably similar to another of your dearly departed relative Marvin Gaye’s compositions, 1965’s “Ain’t That Peculiar.” This Pharrell guy has been making a career out of copying your dead loved one’s music! That that would be terrible. Terrible enough for you to complain about in what was supposed to be a gloating interview with Entertainment Tonight about the decision the next day.
Either that, or Marvin Gaye’s family is getting greedy.
Either way, the Gaye family is now claiming that “Happy” is a ripoff of “Ain’t That Peculiar.” (You can compare the two songs for yourself below.) As Marvin Gaye’s daughter Nona Gaye told ET, “I’m not going to lie. I do think they sound alike,” which was enough for the jury last time. However, she did go on to say that she and the rest of the family won’t be taking Williams to court again—at least not right now—because “we’re not in that space.” Nona’s mother, Janis Gaye, added that “We’re just in the moment today and we’re satisfied.” Further comments that Pharrell Williams is a big jerk and his Arby’s hat is ugly were unspoken, but implied.