@RobinThicke produced the album I expected from @JTimberlake #MusicThoughts
If you’ve listened to any of Mr. Thicke‘s latest songs, you may reminisce about the days when Timbaland dominated the charts and Justin Timberlake could be featured on a song for five seconds and it go top 20 (refer back to the 2006-2007 era of pop). Robin’s news songs sound like the best interpretation of a continuation of Timberlake’s musical style.
Take “Blurred Lines.” The song oozes the same finesse and ease of “SexyBack,” JT’s breakout hit and reestablished Timberlake’s dominance in the pop world. From the bassline to the repeated lyrics (“I know you want it…”) to the random “Wooh” in the background, “Lines” pays homage to the reinventing powers of the pop masterpiece known as “SexyBack.” If “SexyBack” and “LoveStoned” could morph together and stay an appropriate song length, the resulting prodigy would be “Blurred Lines,” AKA the song JT should’ve released as his first single since his epic album FutureSex/LoveSounds.
Going through both of their new releases (JT’s 20/20 Experience and Thicke’s Blurred Lines), I see where both have had influences on each others’ musical styles. Timberlake tries to croon falsettos all over the place to sing about the love of his life – something Thicke has been known to do (“Lost Without U,” anyone?). While this is a nice change of pace and definitely shows JT’s more mature approach to music as a whole, it’s Thicke’s irresistible hooks and beats that make me want to go out and “Take Back The Night.” Take Thicke’s ode to wanting to sleep with the love of your life “Give It 2 U.” It features some relatively ridiculous lyrics, but the part that really gets me is the way the first chorus perfectly sets up the amazingness that is the second chorus’ melody. It’s this hypnotic beat plus the brashness of his lyrics that are reminiscent of a confident, young Timberlake.
Even down to the production itself, Thicke enlists past Timberlake collaborator Pharrell Williams (of The Neptunes and N.E.R.D.), a shout-out to Timberlake’s breakout album and success, Justified. And Pharrell writes his name ALL OVER THAT RECORD. I mean, you can tell it’s a Pharrell production from the futuristic funky style, to the Daft Punk-esque riffs (which make total sense since Pharrell had worked with them a lot when he was probably working with Thicke). The beats themselves are reminiscent of Timbaland productions, with a hint of contemporary flavor. The slick production and more fast-paced nature of Thicke’s songs make the album a more fun and upbeat listen, especially compared to the duller filler of JT’s latest release. Don’t get me wrong, I love 20/20, but if anyone else had released songs that long with THAT slow of a melody and gratuitous lyrics about the love of his life, I’d probably not purchase the album.
Take, for example, both men’s singles from the album: “Suit & Tie,” “Mirror,” “Tunnel Vision,” “Take Back The Night,” “Blurred Lines,” “For The Rest of My Life” and “Give It 2 U.” I’ve already discussed “Suit” here, but “Mirrors” really blew it out of the water. That song took the best parts of “What Goes Around/Comes Around” and placed a positive spin on it. That song is why JT’s “comeback” has staying power, and it also allowed people to get comfortable with these new offerings from JT (the new sound and even the “Suit” single).
In terms of “Tunnel Vision (FYI don’t click here unless you’re ready for the explicit video),” it is probably one of the sexiest singles he’s released so far, but that’s also because he hasn’t taken the time to show the public his amazing “Don’t Hold The Wall,” which runs circles around “Vision.” “Vision” is one of those songs that is good, but it just goes on for too long. While it is no “Spaceship Coupe” (one of the MOST gratuitous songs on the album), JT could have benefitted from cutting it down be at least two minutes. Also, what is with the orgi-tastic video? I was hoping for a “SexyBack” Pt. 2 or storyline continuation, not random women flitting around in nothingness, wearing nothingness. That was the difference between “Mirrors” and “Vision;” while both made me cry, one did because of the touching story, the other because of the love the elderly couple celebrated and experienced (like what I did there? 😉 ). But really, I only cried during “Mirrors;” I literally just let my jaw drop when I saw “Vision.”
Moving past that misstep and jumping into another less than savory pop mess, “Take Back The Night” is essentially a drum kit version of “Pusher Love Girl,” which is not the worst thing, but if you’re going to release the new single from the second part of an album, you have to step your game up, or else your audience will ask, “Why did he have to stretch out all of this and make me purchase two versions of the CD if there’s no real difference in the sound?” In other words, JT has taken advantage of his fans with this whole era.
In terms of Thicke’s singles, I talked about ‘Blurred Lines” and “Give It 2 U,” but not “Rest of My Life.” “Life” is a throwback to Thicke’s back catalogue; it sounds as if Thicke pulled it from an old studio session and decided to finally finish it. Also, I like how the lyrics don’t necessarily match up or rhyme all of the time, because it makes the song more real for me, meaning I can picture Robin singing this to his wife Paula Patton.
Also, if we are talking about the relatively inappropriate music videos currently in rotation, take a look at “Blurred Lines,” where women prance and strut around topless in nude-colored thongs. While they are beautiful and flawless ladies, the part that confuses me is the why? Why do they have to be pictured the way the are? What did Thicke gain from creating a video like that? Obviously it generated some controversy, but you’re really going to shoot two versions to generate conversation and not let the song generate its own attention based on a solid production?
Overall, Thicke delivers a cute album, and the individual songs play better than JT’s last release, a release that starts and finishes strong, with lulls in between. Hopefully, both of these guys could get together and do a joint album, similar to Jay-Z’s-R. Kelly or Kanye creative explorations.