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Blue-Eyed Soul: Cultural Appropriation?

Robin Thicke (Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
Robin Thicke (Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

Is blue-eyed soul a form of cultural appreciation or appropriation? Spurred by Robin Thicke's soulful summer hit, "Blurred Lines," Michael A. Gonzales explores the question at Ebony

Nevertheless, while "Blurred Lines" is most definitely one of the hottest songs of the season, Robin Thicke also retains his spot as one of the more popular "blue-eyed soul" singers on modern-day pop and R&B charts. For those who might be unfamiliar, the phrase "blue-eyed soul" was coined by Georgie Woods, a popular Philadelphia-based DJ. He'd strung the words together in the mid-1960s to describe the sound of the Righteous Brothers. Apparently, soul music jocks were playing the Brothers' 1965 hits "Unchained Melody" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' " without realizing the duo was White.

While some years back, Average White Band, Michael McDonald, the Bee Gees and Teena Marie were burdened with the tag, today it's Adele, Justin Timberlake, Joss Stone and Robin Thicke who have to deal with it.

"Blue-eyed soul is all about the terminology, which has nothing to do with the music or the artists," says Darrell McNeill, musician and director of operations for the Black Rock Coalition.

"The term 'blue-eyed soul' is more about marketing, promotion and the business of selling music, but most musicians would never use the label personally," McNeill continues. "Something that should be so simple, like making the music they like, is made complex by the coded language of labels."


Read Michael A. Gonzales' entire piece at Ebony.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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