“Robin, so what really rhymes with hug me?” teased a radio DJ during the Robin Thicke Press Conference held at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa last Sunday. It’s been the question on everyone’s lips since Robin Thicke's massive hit single Blurred Lines (featuring T.I. and Pharrell) has become this year’s Song of the Summer.
At 36, Thicke’s big crossover year has introduced him to a bigger and wider audience than he has ever had before. His instinct to ditch the serious tracks in favour for poppy dance grooves with erotic lyrics proved to be a smart move. Blurred Lines has given Thicke his first No.1 album, while the title track led the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 impressive weeks.
In this interview, he talks in length the success of his mainstream breakthrough, his musical progress since his last record and on his musicality being a reflection of himself. Although he wasn’t willing to go into detail about the Marvin Gaye controversy, he was more than happy to talk about involving his entire family in the process of recording this album.
Now, no interview session would be complete without bringing up that controversial MTV VMA performance with Miley Cyrus. “What was controversial about it?” joked the Blurred Lines singer. Thicke explained that both he and Cyrus knew exactly what they were doing.
“Celebrity is a crazy thing… I’m just happy to be getting all this attention because it gives me a chance for people to hear my music and when I die, the only thing that will matter to me is the music that I’ve left behind, not some performance on MTV that everyone will forget,” said Thicke.
No one knows the importance of sex appeal in the music industry better than the white R&B singer himself. Thicked even attribute his sex appeal to his wife, Paula Patton. “She always tells me what women don't want to hear or see, and how they want to be treated.”
There were a couple of light-hearted moments including one when a question that touched on his “big dick” – referencing his Give It 2 U music video – to which he replied: “You can't have a family without it!” When asked to choose between rappers Pharrell Williams or T.I. if he were a girl, the entire room erupted in laughter.
Check out the full interview below:
Selling more records takes higher prominence than credibility and Grammy awards:
Because that means you have fans. Credibility is all individual perception. I think the most important thing is that you are selling records, that people are hearing and sharing your music.
On the success of Blurred Lines:
The great thing about music is sometimes you can’t describe why you like something. I think the reason this song connected [so well] is because I hear all the time “it’s my grandma’s favourite song”, “it’s my 5-year-old’s favourite song”, it seem to cross age, and racial boundaries. I believe it is the first song ever to reach No.1 on all five different formats. So I think it showed that it connected to all ages and groups. I don’t know how it happen, I wish I can do that every time. But it just doesn’t always work that way.
On his musical progress since his last album:
To me pop is just popular and Blurred Lines is no different than anything it was on my first album, in fact it sounds like this song would’ve been right in the middle of my first album. The difference is that it has a sense of humour which I hadn’t had for the last four albums. My first album had all different genres of music, but the core of all my music is my voice. I have no desire to make pop music, I just want to make popular music. I want it to be my music.
On his writing style or musicality:
I would say all of my music; the centre of it is soul. I consider myself a very soulful person and a soulful singer. My favourite artist whether it’s Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley or Stevie Wonder or even John Lennon or Bruce Springsteen… These are all very soulful people who sing from their hearts and sing with passion. And that’s always been the kind of music that I want to make.
On the Marvin Gaye lawsuit:
I can’t comment on that. All I can say is that I have the upmost respect for Marvin Gaye and his family. It’s always tough when it comes to creation and inspiration and what lines are blurred. [Notice the sarcasm?]
The biggest growing pains from growing up with such famous parents:
You know, I think it’s just wanting to follow in their footsteps and be as successful as they are, but to do it my own way. You hope you can be as good as they were but you also want to be better. I think the greatest challenge was trying to find my own way and not depend on them to make it for me. They always told me that the only way that you will have respect for yourself is if you do it on your own. Even though they supported me and encouraged me, I still had to make it on my own.
On whether it was a conscious decision to include his family in the album-making process:
It wasn’t conscious at all. I am a very family orientated guy. My wife and my son are the most important things in the world to me. They are always there. My studio is my house, so my son would come in all the time and check on daddy. He’d ask “Daddy whachu doing?” I said I’m working on a new song call Ain’t No Hat For That and so I put his voice on that song.
My father was working on a song that he was writing, and he started telling me some lyric ideas that he had on the song (Ain't No Hat For That) that I was writing. And he nailed it. He had some great ideas. So it was the first time that we got to work on a song together for my album.
Ingredients for a successful marriage:
Respect. And you have to listen. As you changed individually, you have to change together. I’m not the same person when I was 20-years-old and neither is she. The most important thing is paying attention to what does she need today, how does she feel today, and really focus in on trying to make each other happy every single day.
The importance of sex appeal in the music industry:
The number one thing is you have to want to be sexy and I want to be sexy. I think being sexy is being kind, being funny. Sexy is always confidence and kindness. Those are the two things I try to exude as much as possible.
His brand of sexy, soulful and fun:
What’s fresh about the show now is that I have these three female dancers. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but now I also want to be an entertainer, which is why my videos have become more entertaining, less brooding, and less serious. Right now, I just want to have fun and be happy, and my music is a reflection of who I’d like to be.
What rhymes with hug me?
There are naughty things that rhyme with hug me. But love me also rhymes with hug me.
His responce towards the backlash against the Blurred Lines music video's nudity and its lyrics:
My music and my identity has always been about love. That’s the one thing I’ve always written about is love and equality and fairness. Here I am, I do a video with naked girls and now I’m a sexist. So I’m dealing with that and I’m trying to figure out how it happened.
When Marilyn Monroe posed nude for playboy magazine, that was controversial, that was racy, that was over the top. And now, it is one of the most revered pictures of all time. For me, I can’t please everybody, I have to please myself as an artist first, and I’ve to make sure that my friends and family love and support me.
I feel bad if it didn’t connect to their sensibilities, but for me I’m an entertainer. So it’s not about who doesn’t get it, it’s about who does get it and I just hope more people get it than not.
On trying to top Blurred Lines:
If you make Titanic and you are James Cameron, you gotta come back and make Avatar. It’s my job to challenge myself, to keep raising the bar and make people come together and dance and smile and laugh.
Favourite song to sing in the shower:
Normally the song that I sing the shower is the newest song that I’m working on.
If he were a girl, who would he choose – Pharrell or T.I.?:
Finally, a question I have never been asked! Brilliant! You know what? I’d probably pick Pharrell, just cause I’ve known him longer. It’s more of a comfort level there.