Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In Defense of Robin Thicke

Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear was critically panned and a commercial flop, too...

For those who are unaware of what I’m referring to, Marvin Gaye’s 1978 album was his love letter and divorce settlement with ex-wife Anna Gordy Gaye.  Citing irreconcilable differences (read: infidelity), they split in 1975.  Marvin laid low for a while; and in 1976 performed in Europe in which a series of live recordings were released as Marvin Gaye Live and the London Paladium.  As the settlement for alimony, Marvin Agreed for half of the proceedings of his next album to be given to his estranged wife.  People didn’t really care for the album when Here, My Dear was released.  It was personal and reflective; but the listening public didn’t like it because it didn’t sound like a Marvin Gaye record.

Sound familiar?

Thirty-six years later, Robin Thicke splits from his wife Paula Patton for what seems to be irreconcilable differences (Read: infidelity).  He releases an album pouring out his feelings and titles the album Paula.  The public hates it and is projected to sell 20,000 copies in his first week. 

Robin Thicke is doing what he’s been doing his whole career: taking a page out of the Marvin Gaye handbook.  ‘Love After War’ is ‘After the Dance,’ we all know about the controversy of ‘Blurred Lines,’ he even kinda croons like Marvin.  After a successful album-Marvin Gaye Live at the London Palladium debut no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100-comes the departure from Robin’s normal music/heartbreak album.  Most of y’all missed that, though.

Robin Thicke has been catching a lot of flack.  Sure, he deserves a lot of it for his alleged indiscretions against Paula Patton of all people (I’m not really upset about this.  Now I got a shot!).  For starters, the genre that Robin Thicke’s music is mostly associated with is r&b—rhythm and blues.  If music is the soundtrack to our lives, then it makes perfect sense to make a sad album.  Albums deeply wrenched in heartbreak have longevity.  Why?  Because when virtually everyone is heartbroken, jilted, and/or neglected they tend to listen to music that reflects this.  Adele won seven Grammys for 21 and to this day we all secretly wish that Mary J Blige would get dumped and churn out another My Life.  While Paula may not be my favorite Robin Thicke album, I’m sure it’ll be the album no one will forget.

People have been not so nice to Robin these days.  He’s cried on TV a few times, looked like a broken man publicly, and Twitter let him have it during his #AskThicke Q&A session with the fans.  He and his people knew that he would be clowned.  Someone has been reading the internet and listening to how the public have been responding to the concept behind Paula.  It’s show business.  This has people talking about the album whether it sells well or not.  The whole concept is a calculated risk.  If it wasn’t, Robin Thicke could have just made an album in his own studio and gave it to Paula Patton (You better believe they’re still in contact.  They have a child together).  Interscope Records greenlit Robin Thicke’s idea, gave him an advance, released videos, and is responsible for this media tour that he is on.  Also, Paula Patton who has been staying out of the limelight is a not so great actress.   Even if she isn’t the best, that’s how she makes her living. 
So I have said all of this in nearly 600 words to say Robin Thicke’s album Paula can be summed up very simply: Marvin Gaye, r&b, and show business.

Here, My Dear is now considered one of Marvin Gaye’s best albums.  Anna Gordy Gaye has gone on the record of saying that she learned to appreciate it.

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