Note: A video for Robin Thicke's new track "Get Her Back," posted at the bottom of this story, contains some suggestive material that may not be appropriate for all viewers. Don't watch if you're easily offended.
Robin Thicke’s (@robinthicke) new album, “Paula,” isn’t likely to win back his estranged wife, the actress Paula Patton (@PaulaPattonXO) . But we don’t have to wait to see if the record will bring him fresh love from critics: they hate Thicke’s latest work.
What “Ishtar” was to movies, Olestra was to nutrition, New Coke was to soda, the Edsel was to automobiles and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe was to fast food, “Paula” is to recorded music. Or so reviewers say.
Thicke’s oddly public reconciliation quest — filled with way too much information, or TMI — has been savaged for its narcissism, cluelessness and atonal music.
While some people may be curious to check out what the “Blurred Lines” hitmaker has to say, the reviewers are urging everyone to avert their gaze: It’s a car crash, and there’s no point staring.
Here’s a roundup of the worst of Thicke’s notices.
"Paula" isn't a humiliating public apology, or even a confession: It's an act of aggression akin to parking your car outside someone's house for days on end or taking out a billboard with their phone number on it. Thicke isn't just embarrassing his ex-wife on this record, he's violating her privacy, and denying her a quiet and unimpeded separation.
In case you’re wondering: He starts officially begging 55 seconds into the album. Ultimately, Robin spends way too much time on this album telling us (and Paula) how sorry he is. He should have veered from the concept just a time or two to let us know how fun it was to be a dirtbag.
I find myself cringing — but not over how unoriginal Paula sounds, even amidst Thicke’s deluge of well-trodden blue-eyed soul. The inability to shake an unrelenting ex is bad enough. Imagine having your breakup laid out publicly without your side of the story represented. Still, I can’t decide which is more embarrassing for Patton: Thicke paying homage to their most romantic moments through saccharine piano ballads, or him recalling the romps he had with her — and others — over funky beats.
Coming from a more likeable artist, it would be embraced as bold, daring, credible. But this is the dork who turned “I know you want it” into a catchphrase. Now suddenly he’s changed his tune to “I know I need you”? Gee, I don’t know, Robin.
Robin Thicke is gross, and maybe that's something I should throw aside to properly review this album, but when he throws his public life into the mainstream like this, it's not something so easily dismissed. I could forgive all of this if the music itself was good, but the lyrics are cheesy, the music is lounge-y and Thicke comes across as stalkery and desperate instead of heartbroken.
It’s tempting to mock Thicke, who’s long cultivated an image as a golden-voiced, white-soul lothario, for his sudden willingness to display such vulnerability — he made headlines again this Sunday after making yet another high-profile apology to Patton while onstage at the BET Awards in Los Angeles — but, as anyone who’s ever been through the wringer knows, breaking up is indeed very hard to do.
If it sounds like TMI, that's because it is. "Paula" plays off how invasive and uncomfortable a celebrity breakup is — not just for the couple involved, but for those watching and, in this case, listening. Fans want to know, but maybe not this much. After the devil-may-care disco of "Blurred Lines," Thicke's career peak, "Paula's" introspection seems half-baked.
This album isn’t a joke or an endearing, romantic plea; it’s a big, fat red flag. Hopefully Patton is surrounded with people who are keeping her safe, and hopefully Thicke gets the help he needs to move on. The first step: Take away his microphone.