BY: Lisa Robinson
Everybody knows who I am now because I let Miley Cyrus twerk in front of me on the MTV awards,” laughs Robin Thicke, who, after 20 years as a songwriter and recording artist, hit it big this past summer with the catchy “Blurred Lines.” That song—which was No. 1 in 114 countries and held the top spot on the U.S. pop charts for 12 weeks—turned him into a worldwide star and a tabloid sensation. Here, Lisa Robinson talks with him the day after the MTV awards about Miley Cyrus, soul music, and his personal life.
LISA ROBINSON: Miley Cyrus practically molested you last night at the V.M.A.’s—all that twerking and whatnot.
ROBIN THICKE: I spent my whole career playing it safe, being a gentleman, never doing anything controversial. I didn’t see [the V.M.A. performance] because I was onstage singing my ass off. They told me [beforehand] that Miley’s going to take her clothes off and dance around and she might bend over… I just said, I don’t care, let’s entertain the people. Let’s give them something they’re not ready for, let’s make them talk.
L.R.: You’ve been married to actress Paula Patton for eight years; now you’re in tabloids with rumors about cheating. Has the success of “Blurred Lines” affected your personal life?
R.T.: There is nothing normal about a musician’s lifestyle; I don’t have a nine-to-five job at the post office. Seventy-five percent of my songs are about how much I love my wife and how much I need her. We’ve been married for eight years, and together since we were 16. We’re very lucky to have the greatest friendship; we’re John and Yoko—whatever that is—that’s who she is to me. I’ve always put her before everything and will continue to. But, yeah, be careful what you wish for.
L.R.: What about the talk that “Blurred Lines” sounds like Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”?
R.T.: The chords in Marvin Gaye’s song are minor—mine are major. There isn’t one chord, one syncopation, one melody that is the same as Marvin Gaye’s song. Inspiration and stealing are two completely different things. If somebody wants to make a song like “Stairway to Heaven” and writes a song on acoustic guitar, Led Zeppelin does not own every song that’s on acoustic guitar for the rest of time.
L.R.: Have you made a ton of money from this song?
R.T.: I grew up in a Hollywood family with money, so money is not the reason I make music. My mother [Gloria Loring] is a singer and a soap-opera actress; my father [Alan Thicke] was America’s dad on TV’s Growing Pains. I’m as Hollywood as it gets. Not internally but externally—that’s my bloodline.
L.R.: So where did this love of black music come from?
R.T.: You think I know? I don’t know. I was seven years old the first time I saw Michael Jackson. That changed everything. I’ve been influenced heavily by great soul artists. I see myself as a soul singer. I sing from my soul—I write from my soul.
L.R.: For 20 years you’ve written songs for other musicians (Michael Jackson, Brandy, Pink), and you recorded six of your own albums. How did “Blurred Lines” change your audience?
R.T.: I’ve released 100 songs, and this one song has sold more, and the video was seen more, than everything else I’ve ever done combined. For the last 10 years, my audience at every concert was 90 percent black women. This year, pop radio and a white [audience] decided, We like this guy. That’s the difference between being an R&B star and a pop star. It’s the difference between having an R&B song and “La Vida Loca.”
L.R.: You were always in that “blue-eyed soul” category.
R.T.: A lot of good white soul singers, like Hall & Oates and Michael McDonald, did soul music for a while, then they had their pop breakthrough. That’s what’s happening to me. But I think that John Lennon is blue-eyed soul; Bob Dylan is blue-eyed soul; Bruce Springsteen is blue-eyed soul.
L.R.: Are your eyes blue?