In 2015, the two musicians were ordered to posthumously award Marvin Gaye a songwriting credit on the song, after a federal jury found them responsible for copyright infringement.
The songwriting process was also a topic of debate, with Robin claiming that he played a large role in creating the single, something he later admitted was untrue.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, he confessed to lying about his contributions to the song during the copyright infringement trial, saying, "I was jealous and I wanted some of the credit … I tried to take credit for it later because [Williams] wrote the whole thing pretty much by himself and I was envious of that."
Then, there are the controversial lyrics, which got the song banned at official events for more than 20 British universities. Critics of the song argued that the lyrics promoted a culture of date rape, citing lines such as, "But you're a good girl/The way you grab me/Must wanna get nasty."
Robin has long defended the song and its raunchy music video, and while hindsight's 20/20 for some, he still doesn't see anything wrong with the track, which was previously dubbed "Billboard's Song of the Summer."
In a new interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music, the artist says, "Well, really, I never saw it that way when I sang it or performed it. Usually, the first piece, when it goes, 'Bum, bum, bum, everybody get up,' the crowd goes crazy."
He adds that it's one of the most popular songs at his concerts, noting, "Even people who aren't big fans of mine, that's the only [song] they know."
"You just kind of take it with a grain of salt," the father of three continues. "The reason I started all of this is because I love music, I love to make music, and then, once I started to perform, I love to perform, so I just go for that part of it."
Additionally, he remarks that he "never tries to put anything on it" in terms of its meaning, explaining, "We're just jamming, everybody is meant to get up and dance. That's all the song is meant to do. "
Pharrell has since disavowed the song, acknowledging in a 2019 interview that it "catered" to what he describes as the pervading "chauvinist culture" of the times.
"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," he explained at the time. "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."