THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE KING, proverbs say. Thus, with the recent success of "Blurred Lines" we ask, did Robin Thicke just dethrone Justin Timberlake as the present ruler of R&B soul music? Or will Robin Thicke remain a proverbial copy cat, a second rated version of Justin Timberlake?
Photo courtesy of http://cdn.pigeonsandplanes.com
"Blurred Lines" singer Robin Thicke is pitted against R&B superstar Justin Timberlake for years now. The comparison is largely due to similarities of their genre and sounds. While, Robin Thicke has been in the business for quite some time now, with his jazzy, rhythm and blues sound which captivated his fans with hits like Lost Without U (2007), Love After War (2011), Justin Timberlake, on the other hand, is considered the ruler of soul R&B genre; with his Grammy Award winning and chart-topping hits more superior than the latter, Timberlake is the obvious champion in this battle.
And that is what we think until the summer came and Robin Thicke with the aid of rap superstars and producer T.I. and Pharrell Williams surprised the music industry with their hyper-sexualized single "Blurred Lines".
Blurred Lines is Thicke's biggest single to date. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks besting Mariah Carey's "Beautiful",Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail, Daft punk's Get Lucky etc. It has also become a worldwide hit, topping the charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as the top ten in Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, France, Iceland, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland. Currently, it is the second biggest single in the UK.
The success of Blurred Lines is also attributed to its controversial music video directed by Diane Marter which featured nearly-naked supermodels Emily Ratajkowski, Jessi M'Bengue, and Elle Evans flirting with Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell.
Just this July 26, Blurred Lines broke the record for the biggest radio audience ever, reaching 242.65 million listeners according to press release from Interscope.
The success of "Blurred Lines" is unprecedented. No one in the industry anticipated that the 36-year old singer, can still rise to prominence in this magnitude. As Robin Thicke enjoys the elusive stardom, we started to search for Justin Timberlake, and find out how is he doing after releasing his latest album the 20/20 experience?
News on Timberlake's 20/20 Experience are dismal. While, it debuted number one in the US Billboard 200, becoming Timberlake's second number one album on the chart, its three singles never top the Billboard Hot 100. 20/20 Experience has also lost to Blurred Lines in terms of critical appeal.
According to Steven Hyde of www.grantland.com, comparing Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines to Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience, Thicke's song is "far more infectious than anything on Timberlake's recent The 20/20 Experience". Hyde's review also cited Spin which declared that "This is the album that Justin Timberlake is too famous to make in 2013." Moreover, New York magazine's Jody Rosen share a similar view which bemoaned Timberlake's decision to become "a retro-soul man, boring everyone stiff with windy, hook-starved jams," and contrasting it with Thicke's relatively proletarian approach.
Stenven Hyde further criticized Timberlake, he said:
"Timberlake had GFWMP status on lockdown on his first two albums. Back then, when he said he was bringing sexy back, people believed him. But on The 20/20 Experience, he's no longer guileless, he's significantly less funky, and let's just say that poindexters don't own tuxedos. Meanwhile, Thicke is recording throwback jams with Pharrell and strutting into clubs with his self-described "big dick." It's a stunningly aggressive yet undeniably effective change of attack for a formerly female-friendly proponent of monogamy and mid-tempo earnestness."
Given all of this, is it safe to say that Justin Timberlake's flair has lost to Robin Thicke's new funky and dirtier Caucasian music appeal with lots of swags?
The music industry is a tricky business, stars just easily come and go, while Robin Thicke is definitely striking while the iron is hot, Justin Timberlake's story is that of survival and continuous reinvention. Timberlake may have lost his swags and funk in his latest venture but we don't take it against him instead we see this as a sign that he is maturing as an artist. His 20/20 Experience offers some serious and strong sounds and prosody, if one will dig into it deeper, it will be surprising to hear Timberlake, while still trying hard to sell to newer sex-starved generation, remains the same artist his generations of fans fall in love with.
Figures don't lie
As a testatment of his continuous dominance, recent report from Nielsen SoundScan hails Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience as this year's biggest-selling album to date, with 2 million copies sold.
Justin Timberlake wanted the song Blurred Lines" to be his lead singles for 20/20 Experience, however, producer Pharrell William refused to give it to Justin since Robin Thicke has originally expressed intention to take the song as his lead single for his album.