Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines” Lyrics Breakdown: Is It Secretly Really Gross?

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Posted by on 06/20/2013 at 2:50 PM Lyrics, News

The Popdust Files: BLurred Lines, pharrell, robin thicke, t.i., Trending

On the week it toppled Macklemore from the no. 1 spot on Billboard Hot 100, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” got its first real attention since the hubbub over its music video died down. Unfortunately for Thicke, this was not positive press—the blogosphere caught wind of a months-old post by Feminist in LA blogger Lisa Hyunh, which asked the question, “Is ‘Blurred Lines’ secretly about rape?’”

Basically, the majority of the song (creepily named “Blurred Lines”) has the R&B singer murmuring “I know you want it” over and over into a girl’s ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity.

Our first instinct was to defend the song—after all, who doesn’t like “Blurred Lines”?—until we realized, we barely know any of its words. Who knows what messages could be lurking inside? So while The Daily Beast has done a fine job outlining the various arguments, we thought the song could still use some close textual analysis. Is it really as gross as they say?

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Maybe I’m going deaf,
Maybe I’m going blind
Maybe I’m out of my mind

Here Thicke sets the scene: He thinks he’s got chemistry going with a woman, but for reasons unknown, she’s not acknowledging it. He’s pulling sort of a a reverse-gaslighting here: Calling himself “crazy” in the hopes that she’ll turn around and say “Don’t worry dude, you’re not crazy. I am in love with you; I just couldn’t show it!” Manipulative, or charmingly self-deprecating? Your mileage may vary, but we’re going with the latter.

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker

Ah, our old friend “tried to do-MEST-icate you,” the only line we ever remember from “Blurred Lines.” Thicke is talking about his crush’s … boyfriend? Ex? Friend? Whoever he is, Thicke thinks he underestimated the woman’s ferocious sex drive. This is actually a fairly progressive point—a lot of dudes are still uncomfortable with the idea that women want sex as much as men do—so we’ll overlook that Thicke’s making it in the service of getting himself laid.

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted

Now we reach the offending lines. And yes, we agree with Hyunh that saying “I know you want it” doesn’t make you seem like someone who’s good at making sure their partner enthusiastically consents to sexual activity. But at this point in the narrative, Thicke is only hitting on the woman, not having sex with her. “I know you want it,” in this context, is a pickup-line bluff. Thicke is a boor, not a rapist.

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
Go ahead, get at me

If anything, this sequence is probably more problematic. Thicke is making a questionable assumption here, that because this girl is grabbing him, she must therefore “wanna get nasty.” That might be true, but it’s not the sure thing he thinks it is. Flirting with and grabbing someone is not a guarantee you want to have sex with them! Sometimes it’s just fun to flirt.

What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for
You the hottest bitch in this place
I feel so lucky

Again, this isn’t rapey so much as it is kind of sleazy. (This is not a complaint; there’s a time and place for sleaze, and radio funk is one of those places.) Also, if you can explain the “steam” line to us, we would be much obliged.

Hey, hey, hey
You wanna hug me
Hey, hey, hey
What rhymes with hug me?
Hey, hey, hey

Nothing to say about this line, except that it is quite possible the laziest verse of 2013. (It’s also nerdily endearing in the manner of Thicke’s father, which does a long way towards making up for some of the song’s grosser parts.)

One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Yo, from Malibu, to Paribu
Yeah, had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable
Then, honey you’re not there when I’m
With my foresight bitch you pay me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn’t pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me

Four notes on the T.I. verse: 1) “Paribu,” as far as we can tell, is not a real place. 2) Is T.I. the first rapper to ever use the word “foresight” in a verse? 3) Threatening to “tear” someone’s “ass in two” is a lot less sexy than Clifford thinks it is. 4) T.I. calling himself a “nice guy” is just a cherry on top.

Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me Dakota to Decatur, uh huh
No more pretending
Hey, hey, hey
Cause now you winning
Hey, hey, hey
Here’s our beginning

Is Robin Thicke pushing this woman drugs? Probably, but it sounds like it’s just pot. And that’s “Blurred Lines” in a nutshell: Yeah, it’s kinda gross if you think about it, but it’s also ultimately pretty harmless, even charming.

The fully lyrics are below. You can listen to the song at the bottom of the post!

[Pharrell]
Everybody get up
Everybody get up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Maybe I’m going deaf,
Maybe I’m going blind
Maybe I’m out of my mind

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
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
Go ahead, get at me

What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for
You the hottest bitch in this place
I feel so lucky
Hey, hey, hey
You wanna hug me
Hey, hey, hey
What rhymes with hug me?
Hey, hey, hey

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker
Hey, hey, hey

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

[T.I.]
One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Yo, from Malibu, to Paribu
Yeah, had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable
Then, honey you’re not there when I’m
With my foresight bitch you pay me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn’t pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me

Shake the vibe, get down, get up
Do it like it hurt, like it hurt
What you don’t like work?

Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me Dakota to Decatur, uh huh
No more pretending
Hey, hey, hey
Cause now you winning
Hey, hey, hey
Here’s our beginning

I always wanted a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
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
Go ahead, get at me

[Pharrell]
Everybody get up
Everybody get up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

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