Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. Let’s get our summer jam going.
Even in a year of left-field success stories, “Blurred Lines” has one of the year’s biggest “Wait, what?” line-ups. All three of these guys have been around for at least ten years a piece, but never striking gold. T.I.’s had a few hits before, mostly with bigger names like Justin Timberlake and Rihanna, but he’s not a name you expect on the pop charts. Pharrell’s been a limelight guy best known as half of production/writing team The Neptunes, who have done at least one of your favorite songs. Meanwhile, Robin Thicke’s spent most of his career banished to the plushy hell of adult contemporary R&B, with AllMusic describing his last album as “gunning for a Vegas residency”; the most damning backhanded compliment I’ve heard in months.
So, these three guys all went in on the lead-off single from Thicke’s upcoming album of the same name. Even with his old-school R&B obsession and Marvin Gaye fanboy status, Thicke’s been aiming for younger audiences with his last few albums, and the pop-funk groove of “Blurred Lines” is certainly the most radio friendly he’s ever been.
It also fits the retro “classy pop” trend of this year. “Suit & Tie” shows this style off the best; the focus is on grace and taste (including avoiding obvious synths). It’s a smoother, more refined and almost classicist sound that’s also seen on this summer’s other big hit, “Get Lucky”. I’d consider it a coincidence, but now with “Blurred Lines” in the mix, and even trendchasers like Chris Brown hoping on it, I feel like it’s more of a thing now. Then again, Macklemore’s the other big influence this year, so I could be horribly wrong.
Anyway, the unarguable best thing about “Blurred Lines” is Pharrell’s pop-bass production.As a dance jam, “Blurred Lines” sounds like it could go for days. In a GQ interview, Thicke said he had the idea to do something like (who else but) Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”. After hearing “Got To Give It Up”, um, I’m not sure he should have brought it up because…damn. It doesn’t necessarily ruin the beat to “Blurred Lines”, but the two are similar enough that it might as well be a sample. Can someone do a mash-up?
T.I. does a nice verse, and Thicke makes full use of his range throughout the song, but the big talking point, and possible dealbreaker, is the lyrics. Plenty of fantastic songs boil down to “Let’s fuck”, but the lyrics to “Blurred Lines” are so dumb that a Google search for them should come with a message saying, “Ok, s’your brain cells…”.
“If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say/If you can’t read from the same page/Maybe I’m going deaf/Maybe I’m going blind/Maybe I’m going out of my mind” …because…?
“Ok, now, he was close, tried to domesticate you” Screw wherever that first verse was going, here’s the next line. Also, if you’re trying to seduce a woman at the club, is “domesticate” really on the list of words you want to use?
“But you’re an animal, it’s in your nature” Robin, you just called her a pet.
“Just let me liberate you/You don’t need no papers” Someone please tell me that there’s some ridiculous excuse for line like you need a fashion expert’s written approval to get in the club, and she’s so good looking that she can skip that step, because I don’t want to invoke Godwin’s Law in a Radio Rant.
“I feel so lucky/You wanna hug me/What rhymes with ‘hug me’?” Shit, I dunno. “Mug me”? With a song this creepy, “drug me” wouldn’t be wholly out of the question. Is it pug me?
Johnny Bravo wouldn’t write shit this tacky during a dry spell. Half these lyrics sound like Thicke’s singing them while pointing to his dick while nodding and smiling. He’s said in interviews that apparently “Blurred Lines” is supposed to make fun of itself: it’s a big, brash song based on old guys yelling “Hey girl!” at women from their porches, with the joke being that Pharrell, T.I., and himself are committed family men. None of that reads in the song, though; it never turns the catcalling/street harassment on its head, and doesn’t show up as anything but an exceptionally dumb but catchy song.
I’ve had worse songs come through Radio Rants, but “Blurred Lines” gets really obnoxious really quickly. If you don’t look or think too hard on it, it’s a fun song, but coming with as much baggage as it does, it’s just a nice alternative to hearing “Get Lucky” for the fourth time this hour.