Pharrell Williams Regrets Making Music that Caters to the ‘Chauvinist Culture in Our Country’

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 08: Pharrell Williams performs onstage during the American Express Platinum House At The 1 Hotel South Beach at 1 Hotel South Beach on December 6, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for American Express)
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for American Express

Super-producer Pharrell Williams says he’s changed his mind and is apologizing for the “chauvinist” masculinity and sexism in his hit 2013 song “Blurred Lines.”

Appearing on the cover of GQ’s November “New Masculinity” issue, Pharrell Williams spoke about the tune he recorded with artists Robin Thicke and T.I. that raised many eyebrows for its sexually explicit music video and lyrics.

The song has also fallen out of favor since 2013 in light of the advent of the #MeToo movement, GQ says, due to its overt masculinity. And now, Williams is apologizing for it.

“I was also born in a different era,” Williams told GQ, “where the rules of the matrix at that time allowed a lot of things that would never fly today. Advertisements that objectify women. Song content. Some of my old songs, I 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.”

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Now, Williams says that “Blurred Lines” led to a feminist epiphany.

“I didn’t get it at first. Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, wow. They would have me blushing,” the Grammy-winner said. “So, when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was, like, What are you talking about? There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up. And I know you want it — women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So, it’s like, What’s rapey about that?”

Williams claims that he understands that men use this language when they are abusing women.

“I realized 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 behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women,” Williams said.

“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. Even though it wasn’t the majority, it didn’t matter,” Williams insisted. “I cared what they were feeling too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realized that. Didn’t realize that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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