Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. We’re getting into the Thicke of it today.
I’m bending my own rules a bit and dipping out of the top 20 of the Hot 100 to look at the follow-up to this year’s biggest one hit wonder: “Blurred Lines”. “Blurred Lines” made waves in and out of the music press this summer, and was truly controversial: its lyrics and video inspired enough thinkpieces and critiques to fill its own college course, but at the same time, the instrumental is untouchable. The ability to enjoy “Blurred Lines” was a blurred line itself.
So now, I say “thank you” to Robin Thicke. Thank you for clearing up any confusion around your likeability with the two pound bag of suck that is “Give It 2 U”.
Quick recap of Thicke’s career to date: guy’s been around for the last decade in the adult R&B scene before realizing that people only buy so many Marvin Gaye knock-offs, and slumping album sales suck. He decided he “wanted to have fun and be young again”, so he basically made a midlife crisis into a pop career. And while “Blurred Lines” was successful because of how fresh it was, “Give It 2 U” has the trademarks of someone pleading for relevance.
What else explains this turgid, dime-store Ke$ha beat?. “Give It 2 U” was produced by club overlord Dr. Luke, who, after having a stranglehold on the charts since 2010, is finally showing signs of slowing down. This squelching, distorted 8-bit beat just sounds tired, unfocused, and instantly dated. It has one cool hat trick with the disco stop-starts after the chorus, but otherwise, this ugly, confused beat tries and fails to have the pulsating verses and smooth chorus, and just sounds muddy as a result.
I thought that Bieber was our leading Justin Timberlake imitator, but Thicke has that higher pitched whisper-rap-singing thing down pact. But, like any imitation, it’s not the real thing, and Thicke sounds more bored and disengaged here than JT did on most of The 20/20 Experience. The guy that had fun using his full range on “Blurred Lines” was a no-show for this mess.
And now, for the worst part of “Give It 2 U”: the lyrics. If “Blurred Lines” was that older guy in the club shouting “Hey girl!” from the bar, “Give It 2 U” is the creepy older guy that keeps grinding on women, and only gives up once the Mace/security comes out. I never thought I’d consider “What rhymes with hug me?” clever, but it’s a step above the blunt come-ons here. To illustrate, the lyrics site RapGenius breaks down every line of a song and explains the meaning behind it. Thicke’s verses are so flat that the site translates them to “PENIS”.
“I got a hit for ya/Big dick for ya” We know. You’re actually being kinda…pushy about it. Like, dude, no one’s asking you to break out a ruler and drop trow. At least, I hope not.
“So I can come and take it off you/And get it off to you” Oh my fuck, we hit the low point. With “Get it off to you”, Robin Thicke just wrote you out of the equation. That’s not even “let’s have sex”, that’s “I’m going to jerk off to you later”. Ok, Thicke, bring out the rappers.
Both guys do a decent job. I get why 2 Chainz is here; he’s going to hype whatever he’s on, and what other rapper would dance in front of an ass float? His verse works, but he’s mostly here to bring fun. And I get why Kendrick Lamar’s here, but I don’t get why he’s here. I see the label’s reasoning of “Last year’s breakout rapper gets a ton of features”, but…Kendrick isn’t Ludacris, Nicki Minaj, or Lil Wayne. He can’t chameleon his way into any chartbuster, not without sounding a little brainy or weird. He might start his verse with having you sit on his face, but then raps about looking for you, meaning what he says, references an Olympic athlete, and caps it off with “I’m awful antsy, hope that convince you”. Bit of a long way from “I got a big dick for you”. He goes an alright job, but sounds like an awkward fit for this song, like he was picked more for being “What the cool kids like” than anything else.
I was ultimately conflicted over “Blurred Lines”, but “Give It 2 U” is just atrocious: the hook’s weak, the production’s overbearing, and the lyrics are awful. I never thought a song about fucking could be this joyless, or a song aiming for sensual could sound so confused. Thicke’s trying to escape the inevitable “one hit wonder” tag, but the sooner we forget about “Give It 2 U”, the better.