Robin Thicke

Blurred Lines

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When Marvin Gaye was pressured to make a commercial dance record, the singer responded with "Got to Give It Up," which went to the top of the Hot 100. Thirty-five years later, Robin Thicke -- he of the perpetual Marvin fixation -- offhandedly recorded "Blurred Lines," musically based on that 1977 hit, with producer Pharrell. Thicke wasn't gunning for number one, but a deliberately sexist video further polarized opinions and pushed the song to that spot -- a very rare achievement for a 2013 single within the marginalized genre of R&B. Ironically, the album of the same title also contains a motley assortment of high-gloss dance tracks seemingly made for pop-chart contention. "Take It Easy on Me" (produced by Timbaland and J-Roc), "Give It 2 U" (Dr. Luke and Cirkut), "Feel Good" (will.i.am), and the deluxe edition bonus cut "Pressure" (the Cataracs) are nothing like the title track's undeniable disco-funk groove, and not one of them is among Thicke's best. They do, however, lack desperation and help convey the album's prevailing casual, lighthearted feel. Several other songs are more rooted in soul but are just as spirited, if not as moving as 2008's "Magic." Best of all is career highlight "Ooo La La," slick and perfectly crafted -- a 1979/1980 smooth soul throwback featuring some of Thicke's finest melodies and falsetto lines. Tucked near the end, after all the revelry, is "4 the Rest of My Life." A great soul ballad filled with personal flashbacks, like the time young Robin serenaded then-future wife Paula Patton with a Jodeci song, it's nonetheless relatable enough to be played at as many wedding receptions as "Blurred Lines." It adds a little something for longtime fans who might not be all that receptive to the glitzy synthesizers and pounding bass drums.

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