Robin Thicke ‘Blurred Lines’ Album Review
Robin Thicke emerged as one of this summer’s most recognizable artists with the hit track “Blurred Lines”, a collaboration with Pharell Williams and T.I. that drew attention for its scantily clad music video as well as its infectious “you’re a good girl” hook. It’s not the first time Thicke has drawn attention from the masses; he was nominated at the MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards, Soul Train Music Awards, and American Music Awards in 2007, variously for “Best New Artist” or best song for the hit “Lost Without U”. But prior to this year, the majority of Thicke’s fans have existed within a specific R&B niche that was slightly restrained from entering the realm of commercially successful mainstream pop. Sure, “Lost Without U”, peaked at #14 on the Billboard charts, and was the most successful R&B track of 2007, but it wasn’t until “Blurred Lines” this year that Thicke truly launched into the mainstream. With the single “Blurred Lines” sitting pretty at #1 on the Billboard charts, it was a very opportune time for Thicke to release his sixth studio album, also called Blurred Lines.
The album’s self-titled track is already a star-studded hit, propelled by a fantastic hook as well as hotly circulated allegations that the song promotes rape, particularly with its “I know you want it” line. Regardless of one’s opinion regarding that matter, there’s no arguing that controversy sells records, and Thicke is likely perfectly content with the storm of hypothetical criticism surrounding the song. That is how many pop songs stay on top of the charts today, after all. “Blurred Lines” aside, the rest of the album pursues more of Thicke’s R&B-pop hybrids, many of them aspiring to similar chart heights and radio air play. Thicke’s image is fairly solidified as a would-be casanova with some grey streaks in his hair, a veteran who’s still content appealing to a much younger demographic. The album’s second track, “Take It Easy on Me”, sports a sleek club feel with its glittery synth pad, sensual croons, and a buzzing bass that seems to gyrate with sensual hips. “Why don’t you take it easy on me,” he sings during a glittery chorus that descends in tone before launching into a revision driven by percussion and bass. It’s another single-ready track that will satiate Thicke fans, along with those new to R&B/pop hybrids – if they hadn’t found Justin Timberlake, by now.
Unfortunately, beyond the first two tracks of Blurred Lines lie several complications and stylistic mismatches. Thicke’s ego gets in the way frequently, with the delusion that he appears like a bona-fide star to every listener. Confidence is one thing, but a grating ego is another. Thicke promises a “big dick for you” on “Give It 2 U”, and later attempts to write a likable female character in “Top of the World”, where “she has funny teeth, all the kids called her toothy!” Good to know, but there’s no resonance or relevance. The back-and-forth between sensual bravado and failed narratives make the majority of Blurred Lines sound confused and desperate, like many who wake up beside Thicke. There are probably contingents of fans who actually want what Thicke promises to deliver on “Give It 2 U”, but he simply does not have enough on his resume to support this ego-centric direction for most listeners. The painfully elementary lyrics of “Feel Good”, an excessive runaround where Thicke contemplates the seriousness of a relationship, seems out of place among other tracks with charismatic over-confidence. The sudden transformation to an honest, relationship-ready sympathetic figure isn’t at all convincing, neither here nor on other tracks.
Blurred Lines will surely reward Robin Thicke with an increased fan base and career album sales, but as an artistic achievement it is sorely lacking. If the album was not propelled by a #1 single, along with plenty of attention and controversy, then it would be a forgotten release from the sensual R&B crooner. Inconsistencies in tonal direction and a sporadic lack of infectious hooks are what doom Blurred Lines from elevating Thicke from ego-centric crooner to an actual artistic staple. Unfortunately for Thicke, he’s going to have to release something with significantly more substance to stay relevant past the fanfare of this album’s hit single.