Monday, June 10, 2013

8 Reasons Why Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" Is Restoring My Faith in Pop Music

1. As of the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending June 15, 2013, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke feat. T.I. + Pharrell is the latest Top 10 entry in a hit list devoid of cheap dance-pop, with one exception: "Come and Get It," by Selena Gomez, who I'm giving a free pass for now because I'm actually excited about Getaway, her Labor Day-weekend foray into acting, if not for her, for Ethan Hawke in the driver's seat, to the left above the title -- Who do I have to sleep with to see Before Midnight overseas? Ethan? If so, done! -- and for my friend and former All My Children star Rebecca Budig as Ethan's lucky/unlucky spouse. She's the kidnapping victim in desperate need of her own getaway.

Only Icona Pop's "I Love It" (at No. 9) sounds better, but while that will likely be the Swedish duo's one hit wonder, "Blurred Lines" will more likely (hopefully) be the first of future Top 10 hits for Thicke. Which brings me to my next point....

2. Thicke, 36, has been kicking around forever (roughly a decade) without a Top 10 Hot 100 hit. Though a promising start, "When I Get You Alone," his 2003 debut single was an overambitious effort -- Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" should stay in the '70s -- that sounded as awkward then as it did when it was resurrected by Blaine on Glee in 2011. "Lost Without U," which hit No. 1 on the R&B singles chart in 2007, was a great song that had the misfortune of arriving just when real R&B was beginning to fall out of flavor in pop, and only made it to No. 14 on the Hot 100.

Real R&B has yet to make a real comeback, which makes the out-of-the-box success of "Blurred Lines" a possible harbinger of great things to come.

3. Bless Daft Punk's electronic heart. Like Thicke, the French duo has finally scored a long-delayed Top 10 hit (with "Get Lucky," currently No. 3), but what happened to the twosome's Gallic edge? There's less for "Get Lucky" guest star Pharrell Williams to do on "Blurred Lines," which might be why I'd rather spend four and a half minutes listening to him there. If Pharrell, 40, ever bottles what keeps him looking forever so young, I want a rest-of-my-lifetime supply, but I prefer him behind the scenes, producing (a role he handled on "Blurred Lines"), rather than in front of the microphone. (Imagine what "Get Lucky" would have sounded like with Thicke's tipsy falsetto taking the lead.)

4. If you're going to employ a falsetto lead and a retro funk-soul groove on a contemporary pop single, you can't go wrong if your most obvious influences are James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," which is actually quoted on "Blurred Lines," and Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up," a 1977 No. 1 smash that's remains my all-time favorite Gaye joint.

5. "Blurred Lines" makes a lot better use of T.I.'s performing talents than Identity Thief. I finally got to see the early 2013 big-screen hit a few days ago on a Qantas flight from Santiago de Chile to Sydney, and I couldn't believe that it was even worse than the bad reviews led me to believe it would be. It's a sad day in moviemaking when you've got two leads as engaging as Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy being directed by Seth Gordon (who handled the honors for 2011 nasty-awesome Horrible Bosses) and the only bright spots are the occasional T.I. sightings. Of all the eye candy in the "Blurred Lines" video, T.I.'s is the sweetest.

6. Lines are super-flattering in pop. For proof, listen to Blondie's Parallel Lines, Grandmaster Melle Mel's "White Lines," and Massive Attack's Blue Lines.

7. I can live without all that flashing hashtag stuff ("#THICKE" and "#BLURREDLINES") -- Come on, Robin, did you really think you needed to court a Twitter explosion to make this great track a hit? -- but Thicke and company prove that you don't have to be Beyoncé and company (in the "Single Ladies" clip) to make effective use of a simple visual concept set against a plain white background.

8. Unlike Drake, Thicke makes a, erm... big ego seem sexy. When that sign announcing that "ROBIN THICK HAS A BIG D" pops up near the end, it makes me want to see... um, hear a lot more.

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