, August 5th, 2013 11:55
There’s a hint of 'always the bridesmaid, never the bride' about Robin Thicke. The unsung 'hero' behind hits for 3T, Brandy and other miscellaneous R&B and pop also-rans, he remained on the periphery of the fame game without ever quite tasting its rewards. Now, he’s demanding his chance.
Thicke has styled himself an enfant terrible by way of an industrial-grade makeover - in the 90s, he looked like a tramp - and involving Pharrell Williams in the highly questionable 'Blurred Lines', with its apparent date-rape theme. The accompanying video parades a bevy of naked women in front of balloons that spell out "Robin Thicke has a big dick" (a case of the lady doth protest too much if ever there was one).
The Pharrell Effect has emboldened many music pundits to polish a turd. But while Billboard proclaims that "you'd be hard-pressed to find a critic with ill will towards the song ['Blurred Lines'] itself" (not entirely true) and Rolling Stone lauds Thicke for his "bonhomie", we'll simply stick to describing his sixth offering as misogyny masquerading as, err, she must be well up for it.
If he's not boasting he has a "big dick for you" on 'Give It 2 U', or telling women what they really want on the album's title track ("I hate those blurred lines/ I know you want it"), Thicke is wooing the lovelies with his pillow talk on the same track ("You the hottest bitch in this place") and using the kind of chat you might find on a third-rate sexline on 'Take It Easy On Me' ("I'll rip through all your fancy clothes/I wanna shop for your underwear"). Really, it's enough to make you want to lock up your vagina and throw away the key.
With its cocksureness and supposed suaveness, Thicke's album is on par with Jerwayne and Ashley from Channel 4's comedy series Phoneshop singing Omar's 'There's Nothing Like This'. Only much less funny. Sonically, this album may stray from the soulful R&B that Thicke has developed over his previous offerings, but his fusion of EDM-lite beats, synthetic salsa, neo-soul, vocal autotune and modern R&B leaves a confused impression of this wannabe lothario.
On 'Ooo La La', Thicke mimics 80s-era Michael Jackson. But its falsetto, chintzy beats and dumbed-down funk bass make it a laborious track to wade through. The autotune found on 'Take It Easy On Me' was delivered with far more pizzazz by Victoria Beckham and Dane Bowers (I must be out of my mind, I know). The vomit-inducing faux-sincerity on 'Top Of The World', which details a young girl's struggle to make it in this big bad world with her "funny teeth", is slathered in smooth sax and dated dulled drum beats, while the pseudo autobiographical and saccharine 'The Good Life' sits at odds with the rest of the album as Thicke proclaims: "The good life, I know I've made it with you". And 'Get In My Way' is hen-party fodder at best.
It's not that Thicke can't carry a tune. It's that he thinks that having songs that smoulder with sex appeal a la Luther Vandross, Boyz II Men or Barry White means that you have to degrade woman and boast about how your penis is bigger than the next fella's.
It's obvious that Thicke is a career musician - he's been at it since the late '90s as both performer and songwriter. Notoriety may have propelled him to the arena of international stardom, but if he continues to come across as a complete bell-end with his lyrics and promotional, er, tools, then it may well be his undoing too.