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despite all the fuss, thicke's a lightweight

ROBIN THICKE BLURRED LINES (Interscope)

Back when disco was happening, a bar band got tired of being asked to play dance tunes. The drummer quipped to the singer, "Play that funky music, white boy." And so the song that made Wild Cherry famous happened.

Since Elvis began, there have been white performers who've sounded a bit like the great stylists of r'n'b and soul music. In 1964, The Righteous Brothers' album Some Blue-Eyed Soul reworked a term that had been coined to describe white artists who got played on r'n'b stations.

Robin Thicke dislikes the phrase "blue-eyed soul", with its feint echoes of racial division. He should have more to worry about.

Thicke (36) has been writing hits since he was 16; at first for other people, then for his own albums. Things began to come together when he was signed to urban whizkids The Neptunes' label. But, try as he might, Robin was widely regarded as a poor man's Justin Timberlake.

The smokin' title track of his new album, his sixth, has been a resounding No1 success worldwide.

Pop domination seems guaranteed.

The Thicke brand might yet rival McDonald's. Robin's problem isn't just his objectionable explanation for his banned video for the Blurred Lines single.

SLOBBERING

"We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us [Thicke, Pharrell and TI] are happily married with children, we were like, 'We're the perfect guys to make fun of this'."

How objectionable is it to have Thicke slobbering, "I know you want it"?

What's worse is that, despite the Neptunes' unerring way with a funky groove, the lad is ultimately a limp pop confection.

Although more talented than Vanilla Ice, funkier than Jedward and taller than Olly Murs, no amount of trying to sound like Earth, Wind & Fire (Get In My Way), Ronald Isley (Feel Good) or Cherrelle (4 The Rest of My Life) can disguise the fact that, despite the Neptunes' commercial supervision, Thicke remains an easy-listening lightweight. HHHII


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