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Source Material

Source Material: Robin Thicke

by Barry Walters

Source Material: Robin Thicke


Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is the very essence of a guilty pleasure. We're not down with its misogyny. We're not down with Thicke employing African American linguistics to make his sleazy seduction more palatable -- it only makes it worse. Ditto for the titillating/embarrassing video. But we do appreciate his vocal finesse. And Pharrell's Marvin Gaye-modeled funky disco groove? We love that without reservation.

Thicke just followed his spring smash with a whole album of summer party beats, and, as you'll hear, some of the lyrics that go with them are mighty cringe-inducing. The rhythms, however, are not: Blurred Lines brings out the best in pop-club masters Timbaland, Dr. Luke, Cirkut, will.i.am and The Cataracs.

So we've assembled a playlist to frame Thicke's mixed messages in a larger context. Included here are a few of his blue-eyed soul antecedents, several hits by contemporaries who similarly court controversy, and many of the sounds and styles appropriated in the album. Plus, there's an Usher-enabled cameo by Thicke's wife, Paula Patton, who cowrote a Blurred cut. There's also some appropriate gender commentary by The Cribs and a Phil Spector oldie that reminds us that the lines of what's hip and what's unsettling aren't always blurry. Queen Latifah said it best, so we give her the final word.

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