Robin Thicke: here is a man with absolute and invincible confidence in himself. We have laughed and cried with him on his journey: laughed when, in the infamous ‘Blurred Lines’ clip, he showed men everywhere that feelings of sexual inadequacy could be addressed with more than one kind of inflatable device; cried, of course, when he was photographed fondling a backstage basket-bearer at some asinine awards ceremony or other, his hand caught unawares in the tawdry glare of a panoramic make-up mirror. In light of all this, there was much making up to be done to his long-suffering wife, ‘Paula Patton’, and this was the impetus to what would become a classic in the pantheon of pop break-up albums. I speak, of course, of the masterwork ‘Paula’.
So here it is: to celebrate the seven-month anniversary of Robin Thicke’s searing, embarrassing 14-track travesty, I give you this song-by-song autopsy, undeterred by my having not listened nor having any wish to ever listen to the album:
TRACK ONE: “You’re my Fantasy”. Lovely work on this. Over a bossa nova backing, Robin describes his ‘naughty fantasy’ of being caught by his wife in the act of fondling a promo girl, and then apologizes profusely in a wheedling arcipello: “I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.”
TRACK TWO: “Get Her Back”. In which Robin goes into intricate detail about his plans to seek revenge on the promo girl. The line, “‘Cause you’re a baaad giiiiirl” is a little derivative, but the looping in the background of Robin’s own grunts as he worms, like the invertebrate he is, into a pair of his seediest vinyl pants is a musical masterstroke.
TRACK THREE: “Still Madly Crazy”. To the accompaniment of a cracked and caterwauling harpsichord, Robin does, with what few resources he has, his best to explain the mentality of someone who thinks that his appendage is paid best homage in a series of helium balloons.
TRACK FOUR: “Lock the Door”. A charming reminiscence this, wherein Robin recalls his favorite reprimand of Paula: due to the depression brought on by living with her husband, Paula was beginning to forget to do the little things like eat, breathe properly and, yes, lock the door. In this, safety-conscious Robin, understandably wary of the possibility of being stabbed or shot in his home, laments the times he used to chide his increasingly dyspeptic wife.
TRACK FIVE: “Whatever I Want”. Having gotten nowhere with Paula thus far, Robin falls back on his ploy of old, screaming, “GIVE ME WHATEVER I WANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!” until the seat of his pants blows spontaneously open. Haunting.
TRACK SIX: “Living in New York City”. To the syncopated jangles of a chain-gang, Robin gives us a tour of his favorite NY soup kitchens. Favorite line: “Come on, baby, do it louder; they give you bread here with your chowder.”
TRACK SEVEN: “Love Can Grow Back”. In which Robin valiantly attempts to liken his love for Paula with a fungal infection. Nowhere are we given a better insight into Mr. Thicke than on this splendid piece of shit.
TRACK EIGHT: “Black Tar Cloud”. The worst title of any song ever conceived.
TRACK NINE: “Too Little Too Late”. A deft piece of meta-music: a chink opens in the black tar cloud of Robin’s self-delusion and he sees, finally, by some wondrous miracle, the futility of his attempt with this execrable album to redeem himself to Paula and his public. Special props to Miley Cyrus for her guest appearance: there’s some gurgling about her ‘private space’, ‘poor career choices’ and ‘public disgrace’, then a prolonged and powerful guttural moan. Great stuff.
TRACKS TEN to FOURTEEN: all of these are lo-fi, gritty spoken word. Robin talks about how he has a lucky forehead, and gives a brief lecture at the end of the album about how the Grand Comeuppance will last eighteen days and leave only him and his loved one…