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Robin Thicke, the smooth singer whose sensual songs range from “When I Get You Alone” to “Can U Believe,” is atop the charts for the first time, but he’s received intense criticism for his latest hit.
His new track “Blurred Lines” just became the No. 1 song on iTunes and Billboard’s Hot 100, after being released in late March. However, the popular radio jam quickly caught flak from offended groups who have deemed the song’s lyrics “rapey.”
Blogger Lisa Huynh of Feminist in LA ranted in April, “Has anyone heard Robin Thicke’s new rape song? Basically, the majority of the song … has the R&B singer murmuring ‘I know you want it’ over and over into a girl’s ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity.”
Critics, and offended listeners, have also pointed out his excessive NSFW use of near-naked models in the music video, released on YouTube in March, only to be banned from the site for obvious nudity. In the unrated version of the video, topless girls strut and dance around the three fully clothed performers — Thicke, producer Pharrell Williams, and rapper T.I. The unrated Vevo video currently has fewer than 500,000 views, a far cry from the censored YouTube version, which has accumulated over 50 million views on Thicke’s channel and has received near universal fan acclaim.
The YouTube video is constructed like its provocative Vevo twin, but instead features the models clothed, albeit in skimpy shirts and clear plastic tops. The censorship continues on YouTube, extending to the shortening of a balloon display that originally proclaims “Robin Thicke has a huge dick,” to “Robin Thicke has a huge D.”
Tricia Romano of The Daily Beast brought the issue to the forefront on Monday with a story titled “Robin Thicke’s Summer Anthem, Is Kind of Rapey,” adding: “The subject [of the song] itself is enough to make some female music fans uncomfortable. The song is about how a girl wants crazy wild sex but doesn’t say it — positing that age-old problem where men think no means yes into a catchy, hummable song.”
The song’s recent increase in popularity is possibly due to a passionate ad campaign during the NBA Finals by Beats by Dre, which uses Thicke’s song and video concept to promote its new phallically shaped portable audio device, the Pill.
In the same manner that Thicke plasters his self-indulgent hashtag (#Thicke) on his video, Beats and its partner RadioShack use the hashtags #UWantIt and #BeatsPill in the ad, splashed atop images of models playing with the Pill in different ways, from lifting the product like a weight to eating it like a hot dog (with bun, of course). The ad has split viewers, garnering nearly 30 percent disapproval on YouTube.
Thicke responded to early criticism last month in GQ, admitting, “People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.’ So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, ‘Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.’”
All three men in the video are married and have children. Thicke even claimed to have asked his wife, actress Paula Patton, for permission to work with the topless models.
Thicke’s album, also titled Blurred Lines, is set to be released July 30.
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