Robin Thicke tries to come back from ‘Blurred Lines’ on ‘Masked Singer’

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The goofy idea. The bizarre costumes. The extremely quick list of singers who’ve returned effectively to music from reality tv. Even with his profession at a historic low point, Robin Thicke knew that signing onto “The Masked Singer” was a danger.

“Look, if I’d nonetheless been No. 1 on the radio, who knows if I would’ve taken it,” he mentioned lately.

But there was some thing about Fox’s singing competitors — a really strange South Korean import in which a panel of friendly judges prices performances by unnamed celebrities wearing elaborate, borderline-psychedelic disguises — that attracted Thicke when producers pitched him on the show final year.

“They told me, ‘We’re not right here to hurt people’s feelings,’ ” he recalled. “And I mentioned, ‘That’s excellent for me, ’cause I do not wanna inform people today what they’re carrying out incorrect.’ ”

Expertise had taught him how unpleasant that could be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4aVyPSjnYQ?function=oembed

In 2013, right after a decade of steady operate as a medium-wattage R&ampB act, Thicke abruptly went supernova with “Blurred Lines,” a raunchy funk smash that sold 10 million copies and spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100. Then, just as he was acquiring employed to stardom, public opinion turned.

Critics decided that “Blurred Lines” — in which the singer tells a lady, “I know you want it” — embodied what’s described these days as toxic masculinity 1 writer mentioned the song was “kind of rapey.” And handful of had been shocked when a sleazy photo surfaced displaying the then-married Thicke cradling a female fan’s behind. Thicke’s wife at the time, the actress Paula Patton, left him quickly afterward, which inspired the singer to make a miserably received breakup album known as “Paula.” (“Don’t leave me out right here in the cold,” he begs in 1 track. “At least open the doggy door.”)

Asked if he was relieved that all this went down ahead of the complete flowering of so-known as cancel culture, Thicke — who grew up privileged in Los Angeles as a son of the Television stars Alan Thicke and Gloria Loring — raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, but let’s be clear: It was a fairly thorough lashing,” he mentioned. “No holds barred.”

Now, right after lying low for a when, he’s searching for a comeback. Buoyed by surprisingly robust ratings for “The Masked Singer,” Thicke, 42, is functioning on a new album, his initially due to the fact the ill-advised “Paula.” Advance singles like “When You Enjoy Somebody” and “That’s What Enjoy Can Do” — heed these gently romantic titles — have fared effectively on urban AC stations such as L.A.’s KJLH-FM (102.three).

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And Friday evening, Thicke will play the Microsoft Theater, portion of his gig as an opener on tour with Fantasia, not extended ahead of the season finale of “The Masked Singer” is scheduled to air Dec. 18. It is all a handful of rungs beneath exactly where he employed to be, ahead of “Blurred Lines” — which also spawned a higher-profile legal case — went from a dream to a nightmare. But it also feels like a essential realignment of Thicke’s ambition and his all-natural talents.

“The Masked Singer” judges, from left: Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger.

Robin Thicke, from left, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger on “The Masked Singer.”

(Fox)

“I’ve observed a genuine transform in Robin — in his warmth,” mentioned the series’ showrunner, Izzie Choose Ibarra, who mentioned Thicke was coming off a “rough patch” when she cast him as a panelist alongside Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Ken Jeong. “He’s regained so a lot self-assurance in his self-worth and in his experience.”

The singer agrees. “The show was an chance for me to place on a suit and be the finest Robin Thicke I could be,” he mentioned the other morning as he sipped coffee on a patio at his dwelling in Malibu. “And the constructive power that is come from it is precisely what I necessary.”

In fact, the home — a hillside Italianate quantity with sweeping ocean views and a smaller recording studio — wasn’t Thicke’s genuine dwelling, which was yet another explanation he’d been browsing for a increase. In November 2018, Thicke’s location in Malibu burned down in the Woolsey fire this rental was exactly where the singer and his loved ones — his fiancée, April Enjoy Geary their two young daughters and Thicke’s 9-year-old son with Patton — had been staying when they rebuilt.

Thicke’s normally cheerful expression sagged as he went more than some of the factors he’d lost, like the piano he’d employed to create his initially hit, the tender “Lost Without the need of U,” and the numerous “knick-knacks” he’d collected more than the years on his planet travels for his son.

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“I told him, ‘Pack up as a lot as you can,’ ” Thicke mentioned, remembering the moments right after they received the mandatory evacuation order. “I came in his space and he’s got, like, a pair of underwear and a book.” He laughed. “But it is just stuff. We got out of there.”

However the fire was just the final in a succession of really serious hardships — hardships, as opposed to his divorce or “Paula’s” brutal testimonials, that Thicke could hardly be mentioned to have brought upon himself. In 2016, his father died unexpectedly at age 69 when playing hockey in Burbank with Robin’s younger half-brother a year later, Thicke’s manager and longtime pal Jordan Feldstein died of a heart attack at 40.

April Love Geary and Robin Thicke

April Enjoy Geary and Robin Thicke in Monaco in 2017.

(Yann Coatsaliou/AFP/Getty Pictures)

And then there was the extensively questioned lawsuit more than “Blurred Lines” in which Marvin Gaye’s estate accused Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who co-wrote and created the song, of ripping off Gaye’s mid-’70s classic “Got to Give It Up.” A jury awarded Gaye’s heirs a lot more than $7 million, top numerous music-sector figures to warn that the verdict — the outcome of an apparent inability to distinguish among homage and plagiarism — would stifle creativity.

Reflecting on his remarkably rocky stretch from 2013 to 2018, Thicke sighed and summed it up as “a tiny bit of negative luck, a tiny bit of consequences.” His dad’s death was specifically challenging, he mentioned, not least for the reason that Alan Thicke was the loved ones member everyone else normally leaned on throughout a crisis. “He was the king of creating people today really feel very good,” Robin mentioned of the man recognized to millions of Americans as the comfortingly paternal Dr. Jason Seaver on “Growing Pains.” He idly fingered a chain looped about his neck, then added quietly, “I believed we had 15, 20 a lot more years.”

Thicke requires up some of this in his new music. “Testify,” yet another current single, is disarmingly plainspoken as the singer ponders a transform in fortune: “Couldn’t hold it collectively, my loved ones / And all my reckless strategies caught up with me.” The soft sound is various from “Blurred Lines” as well — a lot more like his early stuff, with its echoes of such soul OGs as Donny Hathaway and Teddy Pendergrass.

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“I was only pop for a year,” he mentioned, setting his coffee cup down subsequent to an overflowing ashtray. “Up till then, black radio was exactly where I lived.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyDUC1LUXSU?function=oembed

It took time to try to remember that was his sweet spot, Thicke mentioned. Immediately after “Paula” tanked — “It was a jumbled album for the reason that I was a jumbled particular person,” he says in retrospect — he attempted to reboot by functioning with heavyweight Prime 40 producers like Max Martin, who teamed Thicke with Nicki Minaj for 2015’s “Back Collectively,” a thumping electro-disco banger that went nowhere.

“I assume it is a excellent record, and if somebody else sang it, it would’ve been a hit,” Thicke mentioned. “I’m certain Max feels the similar way, for the reason that Max does not miss.” He laughed. “If he missed with me, it undoubtedly wasn’t his fault.”

Does Thicke get any enjoyment these days from singing “Blurred Lines” in concert? “Oh yeah,” he mentioned. “And you know why? Due to the fact when I execute it, as quickly as I go, ‘Everybody get up,’ the complete room’s spirit lifts.” Nevertheless, he claims to have come to an understanding of the song’s problematic qualities.

Williams, in an October interview with GQ, mentioned he’d realized that, even although he and Thicke meant no harm with the song’s lyrics, “there are guys who use the similar language when taking benefit of a lady, and it does not matter that that is not my behavior.”

Thicke mentioned he’d heard his friend’s comments and then provided his personal, a lot more equivocal take. “However it tends to make people today really feel, that is their ideal to really feel that way,” he mentioned. “We have to be respectful and honor anyone who feels some thing unfavorable when they hear that song.”

But negativity is not what Robin Thicke is promoting ideal now. It is like on “The Masked Singer,” he explained: When a contestant performs poorly, his method is to concentrate on the contestant’s strengths.

“If they’re not a excellent singer, I’ll say, ‘I loved that you picked that song,’ ” he mentioned, his vibrant eyes beaming effectively-practiced sincerity. “Or, ‘I could possibly not like your jacket, but I enjoy your fairly hair.’”