A Celebration of Robin Thicke’s ‘Paula’

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…

PAULA.

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TRACK-BY-TRACK REVIEW OF TAY’S ‘1989’

K, I need to be upfront will you – I did not realise at the time that I had actually mistaken ‘1989’ with Pharmakon’s death industrial album ‘Bestial Burden’. As a result, some of the following content may not actually comment on ‘1989’. That said, I’m sure Tay’s done a great job.

‘1989’: A Review in Tracks

1. Okay, so this is called ‘Welcome to New York’, but all I’m getting is an awful lot of belabored huffing here. “Huh – some welcome,” I feel like saying. What – did she run from her loft to the airport? And why does she insist on our standing on top of this rancorous generator? (In the car park, too. Tay: I’m tired, and your hair is feathering badly.)

2. Geez, okay. ‘Blank Space’ is far from blank. A robot is screaming and playing a drum. Oh, here she is, dependable Tay… but her bangs are a mess, all flyaway. Now what? She is squatting on the Oriental mat and, American Apparel hanging off her like rags, is proceeding to send out a series of primal screams that just has to be heard throughout the walk-up. “Honey T,” I want to plead, crackling to a crouch, “we gotta think about our appearances here. What happened to a nightmare dressed like a daydream? You’re a nightmare wrapped in a horror show, girl.” My stomach and my mint julep tea are troubled.

3. ‘Style’. Right. Taylor has divested herself of all vestments and is elbow-deep in the task of buzz-sawing her teak coffee table in half. She’s got her wild eyes fixed immovably on me, too, which, what with the flight and my settling jet-lag, I could happily have done without. It’s hard to discern whether her accompanying screams are directed at me or at Harry Styles. At this point I am madly formulating my excuses. I hate to say it – hey: this is Tay – but I’m pretty much halfway out the door.

4. Ah, someone’s had a little too much to drink, and here’s me needing a good old slash. I’m tapping intermittently on the bathroom door, but the urethra starts making its demands (as it will) and I settle for a steady and a rhythmical pounding. Tay is busy hacking up a lung in there or something. ‘Out of the Woods’, huh? Anything but.

5. Ugh. I’ve just got T-Swerves snug in her Boden Knit (Spots) when she starts screaming “Honour Satan” right at the top of her voice. Look: I’m a pretty convivial guy, but I draw the line whenever someone starts, as they do in these lofts, rowdily invoking the Prince of Darkness. And meanwhile, okay, so Tay’s making some bold stylistic choices, but really: a stamping press? A fire alarm? Last I saw Tay she was hanging out the window of an oldy-time tower like fucking Rapunzel, her braids as tight as chastity belt. And oh, what’s this? It’s a fucking guilt trip? ‘All You Had To Do Was Stay’, was it? Swell.

6. Taylor’s back at it full-tilt, and not for any want of consolation on my part. I’m assuming ‘Shake It Off’ is in reference to the bugs she’s hallucinated into the lining of her skin. And now she’s got clamped in her white-knuckled fist what resembles a neon ice-cream cone but is actually, as the ensuing noise indicates, one of those reverberating kids’ plastic microphones found in all garage sales ever held. It’s hard to decipher the content of her rant (and I am planted firmly at the opposite end of the room) but she seems to be saying, over and over, “I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here.” “You don’t belong here?!” I want to scream (screaming being the mode of expression du jour). “Then who in the hell’s hug mug have I had my lips all over this whole heinous night?” And then he emerges – one of those heartthrobs soon to be found on the ‘ex-lovers list’. “How are the digs, tho?” he tosses me blithely. He then joins Taylor is a spine-chilling chorus of maniacal and unyielding laughter.

9. Bonus Track: ‘I Wish You Would’. It’s a nice riff on Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’. This, now this, is the Tay I know. I’ll take this Tay any day.

TRACK-BY-TRACK REVIEW OF ‘RUN THE JEWELS 2’

1. ‘Jeopardy’: when Mike’s yelling at me totally unprovoked, I’m thinking “This truly is this month’s bookend to ‘1989’.” I’m a huge fan of the line in which Mike admits to being excited by kale, which really is the wonder-thistle. Also partial to Jamie’s rap about sucking monsters’ vaginas.

2. What I love about the phat beat on this little pony, ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry’, is that it sounds like a chronically, cripplingly shy teen copping his first significant feel: “Darling, da-da-darling, d-d-da-d-da-d-da-darling.” Very poignant.

3. ‘Blockbuster Night, Part 1’ earns thumbs for its canastas, but my idea of a “Blockbuster” Night is me at 16 scanning and bagging a plethora of porn rentals for furtive, wispy-haired, middle-aged men (R.I.P. Blockbuster Video, though).

4. ‘Close your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)’ is great for the way Killer M links “liars and politicians” with “conjugal visits” through syntax and syntax alone. This is rap without a net.

5. ‘All My Life’ has a very humorous “pew-pew-pew” sound effect which really transports me to the Captain’s Bride on the Starship I-Don’t-Give-a-Shit (honestly, this song be a 3 minute waste of time before ‘Lie, Cheat, Steal’ explodes. What WART).

6. ‘Lie, Cheat, Steal’ is a truly wonderful song, and I rankle at the thought of someone making even the slightest fun of it.

7. ‘Early’ features Boots, much like many war films. On a serious note, though, Boots is the producer who gave Beyoncé edge at the start of the year by lacing her fem-nominal album “Beyoncé” with recordings of true-life space tragedies. Factually this isn’t exactly true, but I’m not gonna lose much sleep.

8. All due respect to ‘All Due Respect’! Love those cabana nights bongos, and Jamie spits all over this joint like spitting was socially acceptable (it isn’t, and Jamie should really consider whether this mode of delivery sits well with him. He should also be ashamed of the euphemism “joint”).

9. ‘Love Again’: whimsical reflection on a (presumably married) couple’s compunction to suck each other’s junk. This is the album’s heart.

10. through 12. Just gangbusters, really. Please buy a copy tonight.