Robin Thicke ‘Blurred Lines' (Star Trak/Interscope)
Robin Thicke's greatest stumbling block as a blue-eyed soul man is his competition. Since his 2003 debut album “Beautiful World,” featuring the preposterous “A Fifth of Beethoven”-sampling single “When I Get You Alone,” Thicke consistently came across as Justin Timberlake's understudy. Thicke's R&B workouts were consistently sturdy but unexceptional. Like his father Alan Thicke's 1980s sitcom “Growing Pains” paled in comparison to “Family Ties,” Robin Thicke made the music you heard while killing time between “Future Sex/Love Sounds” and “The 20/20 Experience.”
But remember, occasionally “Growing Pains” got lucky and cast Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt in supporting roles and won a few rounds against “Family Ties,” and that's what happened with “Blurred Lines,” the title track to Thicke's sixth and best solo album. It's the biggest hit of the summer because the earworm melody, rich-and-filthy sentiments and beats copped from Marvin Gaye's “Got to Give It Up” engineer some white-hot platinum. The only grounds for hating “Blurred Lines” come down to some bonehead, aggressively sexist lyrics, but Thicke got everyone's attention, didn't he? And for the most part, he holds it with the rest of the album, particularly when he goes completely “Off the Wall” on three consecutive tracks inspired by the classic Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones sound, “Ooh La La,” “Ain't No Hat 4 That” and “Get in My Way.”
That is a comparison Thicke and collaborators such as Pharrell Williams probably don't mind a bit, but more au courant tracks like the Dr. Luke banger “Give It 2 U” sound like things Timberlake passed on — the comparison they surely wanted to avoid. But most of “Blurred Lines” feels like the true evolution of Thicke, the moment when the also-ran shows he can compete, and for a few brief moments, he pulls ahead of the pack.
— George Lang