Pharrell Williams has said the backlash to his hit song Blurred Lines made him realise “that we live in a chauvinist culture”.
In an interview with GQ, the star addressed criticism of the track, a collaboration with Robin Thicke and TI which topped charts across the world in 2013, but was also accused of having misogynistic lyrics and promoting a culture of date rape.
The singer, 46, talked about being “born in a different era, where the rules of the matrix at that time allowed a lot of things that would never fly today”.
When asked to give examples, he said: “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.”
Pharrell went on to say that it wasn’t the recent #MeToo movement, but Blurred Lines that had “opened me up”.
He said he “didn’t get it at first” because there were women who loved the song. “So it’s like, what’s rapey about that?” he said.
“And then 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. Even though it wasn’t the majority, it didn’t matter. I cared what they were feeling too.
“I realised that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realised that. Didn’t realise that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”