Robin Thicke, "Blurred Lines" (Interscope)
Robin Thicke is having quite a moment.
After spending most of his decadelong recording career as one of R&B's journeymen -- a sensuous crooner with the occasional crossover hit -- Thicke has exploded into pop's consciousness with "Blurred Lines": It's the undeniable song of the summer and may turn out to be the single of the year. The Marvin Gaye-inflected, sex-filled dance groove (and its naughty video counterpart) has become a cultural flashpoint, sparking parodies, commentaries, endless radio replays and an unknown number of hookups.
It's a triumph for Thicke, to be sure -- but the tricky part of having success is sustaining it. It's not something Thicke has managed that well through the years, particularly after scoring with 2007's smoldering "Lost Without U." Will "Blurred Lines" end up being a transcendent, but very singular moment for the 36-year-old singer?
If it does, it won't be because of his music. Thicke has always created cohesive albums that are remarkably underrated; with his sixth album being released as its title track continues on its path to world domination, Thicke may finally get the audience his songs deserve.
With 11 tracks, "Blurred Lines" is tightly woven but still manages to bring different flavors, from electronic dance music to R&B anthems to between-the-sheets grooves. Thicke wrote or co-wrote every track, and while he enlists Pharrell for "Blurred Lines" and has names like Dr. Luke and will.i.am as contributors, he remains the star of his own show.
Thicke charms throughout, whether he's using a sexy falsetto, smooth tenor or even a few raps, which he does fairly well on the retro-sounding "Top of the World" (showing he's learned something from those numerous Lil Wayne pairings). He even succeeds when his lyrics fail, like some cringe-worthy attempted come-ons on the disco-ball whirring electrobeat tune "Give It 2 U" (Kendrick Lamar does a much better job with his verses, thankfully).
Thicke usually does romance right, though, and it's where he shines on the album's best track, "4 the Rest of My Life," a gorgeous ode to the lady in his life that seems tailor-made for countless wedding first-dances (and honeymoon playlists). The song encapsulates everything that makes Thicke's music so alluring: sexy, perfect-pitch vocals, enticing lyrical foreplay and the music that delivers. With "Blurred Lines," Thicke's path to music's top spot should be clear from now on.