Hamish MacBain defends one of the hate figures of the year
As 2013 began, Robin Thicke was just a middling R&B singer cared about only by Americans with no taste (a large demographic, admittedly). In the UK, his last ‘hit’ single had been in August 2008, when Magic rocketed into the singles chart at No95. He ends it the most-banned, most-bleated-on-about pop star who wasn’t Miley Cyrus. From Lady Gaga to Liam Gallagher, they did their attention-grabbing best, but not even the mightiest titans of causing a stir could compete with this quite average-looking, quite unremarkable-sounding, happily married 38-year-old father of one.
And it’s not over yet. Everyone, everyone continues to be out to get him, to blast Blurred Lines for being at best ‘sexist’ and worst ‘rapey’. Simon Le Bon – singer in that band whose video famously featured naked girls mud wrestling and then being hosed down – piped up the other day to say it was “disempowering” for women. Right now, there is a university somewhere adding itself to the list of institutions where the song will be banned, and your mum and girlfriend are setting fire to his cat.
Thicke himself seemed bemused by his new-found status as liberal Britain’s pop whipping boy, and by the outrage that singing “I know you want it” in an R&B song caused. To be fair, it seemed a far-from-isolated incident. Just a few weeks after Blurred Lines had ended its second run at No1 in the UK charts, Jason Derulo’s single Talk Dirty hit the top spot, with a video featuring the requisitely submissive, scantily clad girls, and lyrics such as “Sold out arenas, you can suck my penis”, and no one batted an eyelid. Maybe it’s because Jason is young and has a nice six-pack, so he’s allowed to behave like that. Maybe it’s just because the song, unlike Blurred Lines, was unlistenable.
Of course, unquestionably, Robin Thicke is a man who lives up to his surname. Describing Blurred Lines as “a feminist movement” was almost heroically stupid, but protesting that the video was supposed to be “a Benny Hill-type thing” was perhaps fairer comment, as the female director and its female co-stars concurred. Watch it again. In keeping with lines as knowingly gormless as “Come on and hug me/What rhymes with hug me?”, it is dumb and stupid and funny, rather than sexy or nasty or rapey. Again, you would not have to look very far to find a video more distressing in its content.
Anyway. The good news for the legions of people who have anointed him the figurehead for all that is evil comes with the fact that – more than any other scent – both Blurred Lines and Robin Thicke have the unmistakable whiff of not-to-be-repeated one-hit wonderdom. You suspect that this time next year, no one will be worrying too much about Thicke’s activities, as his return to the realms of No95 is set to begin in early January. But as for 2013? You must admit, the year just wouldn’t have been quite the same without him.
(Image: TERRY RICHARDSON)