Paula todd in shadows.jpg

Date Aired
September 1, 2019
Running Time
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Todd: He just... seemed like a douchebag.

Clip of Robin Thicke, ft. T. I. & Pharrell - "Blurred Lines"

Pharrell: Everybody get up

Todd (VO): You can go and dissect a billion reasons in hindsight why Robin Thicke's career cratered so thoroughly, and so quickly after reaching smash heights. You could point to things he said, things he did. You can look at the content of his work, and the quality of it...

Todd: ...changing trends, politics of the day, botched marketing.

Todd (VO): But if we're really looking at why Robin Thicke imploded so fast and so hard, you have to start with one simple truth.

Todd: There was just a vibe coming off of him.

Video for Robin Thicke - "Give It 2 U"

Todd (VO): A mildly, but tangibly repellent vibe. Just something that made people unhappy when he was happy...

Todd: ...and happy when he wasn't.

Clip from Gone Girl

Voiceover: You're probably the most hated man in America right now.

Todd (VO): The same year that Robin Thicke crashed and burned, Ben Affleck turned in the performance of his career in Gone Girl, in a role only Affleck could play: a philandering asshole struggling to make himself sympathetic to a world that seems like it was just waiting to turn on him.

Todd: It may as well be the Robin Thicke story.

Todd (VO): And it feels like more than coincidence that Affleck [clip of "Blurred Lines"] handpicked the model from the Robin Thicke video to play his girlfriend. [brief clips of interviews with Robin and Ben] The two men are just...kindred spirits, that same kind of curious anti-charisma. Too handsome and charming to relate to, but not really handsome or charming enough to admire.

Clip of Robin Thicke in the infamous court battle...

When Thicke lost the "Blurred Lines" plagarism lawsuit, a questionable legal decision that fucks up copyright law to this day, [screenshot of NME article: "Josh Homme drunkenly slams 'douchebag' Robin Thicke over state of music copyright law"] I saw people blaming Thicke, and not Pharrell, or T. I., or any of the other writers even after he admitted during the deposition that he didn't even write anything because he was so coked up and wasted during recording, a fact that only brought out people's schaudenfreude all the more.

Todd: Everyone just liked seeing him fail. And fail he did.

Clip of Robin Thicke - "Get Her Back"

Robin Thicke: All I wanna do

Is keep it light, keep it light (Keep her satisfied)

Todd (VO): In 2014, Robin Thicke released Paula, an album dedicated to and named for his estranged wife, Paula Patton.

Todd: Now that was only five years ago, so I...probably cannot call this record a career killer quite yet.

Clip of Extraz interview with Thicke

Todd (VO): Robin Thicke is still in the pubilc eye, far stranger comebacks have happened.

Todd: I'm gonna call it a career killer anyway.

Video for "Get Her Back"

Todd (VO): As have most people. Because Paula [screenshots of review headlines: "Robin Thicke's new album Paula is an unmitigated commercial disaster"; "Robin Thicke's New Album 'Paula' Is Set To Be This Decade's Biggest Musical Flop"; "Robin Thicke's Paula 'stiffs catastrophically' to seal downfall"] bombed, like nothing else has ever bombed in the history of bombs.

Clip of DJ Khaled Snapchat video

We've seen big names fail to debut at #1 and throw public fits about their low numbers, but if they had seen sales as low as Paula's...

Todd: ...they'd melt like the Wicked Witch.

Clip of live performance

Todd (VO): If he ever has a hit again, it'll be a goddamn miracle, 'cause Paula failed on every level possible. It was supposed to save his marriage, and continue the upward momentum of his career, and all it did was firmly end both, [screenshot of headline: "Robin Thicke's 'Paula' is the weirdest album of the year (and maybe the worst)"] while cementing everyone's impression of him as a weird, unlikeable creep.

Clip of "Get Her Back"

Robin: I gotta get her go, get her...

[reading floating text message] "I wrote a whole album about..." [sighs] What are you doing, man? For the love of God, no!

Todd: [throws hands up in disbelief] This is Trainwreckords.

Trainwreckords intro, followed by album cover for Paula

Clip of Robin Thicke's performance of "Blurred Lines" at the 2013 VMAs

Robin: Everybody get up

Todd (VO): August 25th, 2013: The MTV Video Music Awards. My God, it's been so long ago.

Todd: Robin Thicke will never be bigger than he is that night.

Todd (VO): It's not exactly a moment anyone would pick as their career high point, him wearing a ridiculous suit and being mostly a spectator to the Miley twerk-tastrophe of 2013.

Todd: But regardless, there he is...

Todd (VO): the most talked-about music moment of the year, singing the song that made him a star.

Clip of Robin Thicke - "You're My Fantasy"

Robin: Touch me you’re my fantasy

And here he is less than a year later, with the opening track of his follow-up album, Paula. It's called, "You're My Fantasy."

Todd: It's a sexy, bossa nova, acoustic guitar love jam.

Clip of Thicke in the recording studio

Todd (VO): Of the kind he was known for in his pre-"Blurred Lines" days. It's awfully low-key, and...let's be honest, not particularly memorable. Just another Robin Thicke song. You would not listen to it and think anything of it.

Todd: Except, right towards the end.

Robin: Come back to me

Come home to me babe

Todd sits in discomfort

Come on back to me

Pretty pretty please darling

Todd: Wait... Something's wrong.

Clip of Thicke and Paula Patton on the VMAs red carpet

Todd (VO): In fact, things started going wrong right at the VMAs. [image of Thicke and fan hugging in front of a mirror, with the reflection of Thicke's hand on the fan's butt circled in red] In the days following it, pictures circulate from the afterparty with Robin Thicke's [Todd zooms in on Robin's...] hands seen prominently grabbing some random girl's ass

Todd: Robin Thicke is a married man. His wife is at that party.

News clip of Paula Patton's rep denying Thicke's cheating reports

Todd (VO): Reports circulate about his behavior. Rumors are the marriage is falling apart. [clip of interview with Thicke] He swears things are okay, and says that he and her are, quote, [screenshot of headline "Robin Thicke Admits He Has The Most Functional, Dysfunctional Marriage In Hollywood"] "the most functional dysfunctional marriage in Hollywood."

Todd: ...Yeah, reassuring [gives thumbs up].

Video for Robin Thicke - "Lost Without U"

Todd (VO): These rumors are very bad for him, because, as an R&B lifer who had mostly sung hot-n-heavy bedroom anthems throughout his career, his core fanbase is mostly women. [clip of The Weeknd - "The Hills"] Some singers make being a callous heartbreaker part of their image, but, that's not him. [screenshot of Cracked article: "Why Robin Thicke Is the new Vanilla Ice"] There's a great article by Cracked's Adam Todd Brown, which I'm cribbing from a little in this video...

Todd: ...where he describes Thicke's public image as a ladies' man for one lady only.

Clip of interview with Thicke and...

Todd (VO): That lady being model/actress Paula Patton, his wife. They have a great story. [two images of young Thicke and Patton; left depicts them smiling for the camera; right depicts them kissing] They're childhood sweethearts, they met at a dance when he was fourteen. [image of Thicke and Patton sitting together] The first night they met, he serenaded her with a Stevie Wonder song.

Todd: See, it's those romantic instincts that would launch him to stardom. Can't go wrong by singing Stevie.

Clip of Stevie Wonder - "Jungle Fever"

Stevie Wonder: I've got jungle fever, she's got jungle fever

We've got jungle fever

Todd: [taken aback] Except that one. [screenshot of article on Thicke and Patton, with highlighted text: "Thicke sang Steve Wonder's 'Jungle Fever' to Patton as they danced."] Please tell me he didn't sing that. Please tell me that's not true.

Video for "Lost Without U"

Todd (VO): But regardless, Robin Thicke is very publicly in love with his beautiful hot wife. [album art for "A Beautiful World"] She is on his album covers, in his videos. As revealed later, she secretly co-writes songs with him. And their careers take off at about the same time. [clip of interview with Patton] She starts getting serious parts the same year he has his first hit. [brief clip of Patton in Baggage Claim] She lands her first big lead role the same year [clip of "Blurred Lines"] he hits #1.

Video for Robin Thicke - "Love After War"

His image is deeply intertwined with hers, so... Robin Thicke failing at his marriage is like finding out [images of...] Snoop Dogg has never done drugs, or that John Cena hates sick kids.

Clip from TMZ about Thicke and Patton's breakup

Todd (VO): On February 24th, 2014, despite his public statements, Robin Thicke and Paula Patton finally separate. Now, any hope that they will handle this issue privately is gone when Robin Thicke starts dedicating songs to her at his concerts.

Robin: I want to dedicate this song to her.


Todd: Back to the album.

Clip of "Get Her Back"

Robin: I never should’ve raised my voice, or made you feel so small

Todd (VO): The second song off of Paula is titled, "Get Her Back." It will be the first single off the record.

Robin: All I wanna do

Is keep it light, keep it light (Keep her satisfied)

Same gentle, bossa nova guitars of the first song, but this one's pleading and earnest and promising to make things right.

Robin: I gotta get her go, get her go, get her go, get her back

Todd: I...boggle that this is the single he chose to lead off with.

Robin: I gotta cherish her for life

I gotta get her go, get her go...

Todd (VO): "Get Her Back" is a wisp of a fart of a nothing of a song. I suppose he had to make this the lead single because...getting her back is the thesis of the record. And a subtextual message he has to send to his audience at the same time, you know, "Please forgive me."

Todd: You know, I worry that I'm making this album sound like a terrible idea from the get-go.

Montage clips of Fleetwood Mac - "Go Your Own Way"; Eminem - "Cleanin' Out My Closet"; Ariana Grande - "Thank U, Next"

Todd (VO): Pop stars have a long tradition of mining uncomfortable public drama, and turning it into gold records. Right up to the present day.

Todd: But there is one in particular that looms large over Paula.

Clip of Usher - "Confessions Part II"

Usher: Watch this

These are my confessions

Just when...

Todd (VO): In early 2004, Chili from TLC reveals in her radio interview that her recent breakup from Usher is because he cheated on her. Usher takes the public drama, and turns it [album cover for...] into the album, Confessions, which becomes one of the best-selling albums of the 21st century. [shot of track listing for Confessions] Towards the end of that album is the track, "Can U Handle It?", from a young, unknown songwriter [image of Usher standing next to...] named Robin Thicke.

Video for "Confessions Part II"

Confessions is clearly what Robin's modeling the new record on.

Todd: Here's the difference. [pause] Well, there's many differences, but here's a difference.

Video for Usher ft. Lil Jon & Ludacris - "Yeah!"

Todd (VO): Confessions launched with "Yeah!", an unstoppable, in-your-face club jam. [clip of Usher - "Burn"] It followed that with the first single directly confronting the breakup, "Burn", which is a shirt-rending wail of grief.

Usher: So many days, so many hours

I'm still burning 'til you return (Let it burn)

These are songs big enough to A, [brief clips of "Yeah!"...] continue the momentum of a white-hot single with superstar aspirations; [...and "Burn"] and B, match the ambitions of a concept album about guilt and heartbreak.

Todd: "Get Her Back" is neither of these things.

Video for "Get Her Back"

Todd (VO): It is too small to launch an album, plus it's skin-crawlingly smarmy and insincere! [brief clips of Jason Derulo - "Whatcha Say"] I spent decades absorbing [...Justin Bieber - "Sorry"...] shit-ass apology songs, so this [...and "Get Her Back"] isn't the worst I've heard, but it's up there.

Robin: All I wanna do

Is give you that thing

Play you that song you and your girlfriends sing

I just wanna sing a song for you. [sarcastically] Oh...

Todd: ...yeah, that'll make it better [gives thumbs up].

Robin: All I wanna do

Todd (VO): "All I wanna d-" Who gives a fuck what you wanna do?! The dark, de-saturated video would have you believe that this is a song of great angst and pain, but it's not! It is absurd to think that this is a lead single. It's a horribly stupid decision by a man who will later admit...

Todd: ...he is high out of his mind making this album, and has lost all good judgment.

Clip of Robin Thicke - "Still Madly Crazy"

Robin: What can I say, oh what can I do?

Todd (VO): After this is the third song, "Still Madly Crazy", another romantic profession of eternal love. There's a short, little creepy video for this.

Robin: But I can't control it

I'm still madly crazy for you

Todd groans

Todd (VO): The great soul singers make you feel like they're singing to you personally, and this song almost makes me wish he was, so I can reject his shitty overtures right to his face.

Todd: And then, something happens in the album. He just gives up entirely trying to sound romantic. And just starts writing about what a fuckin' loser he is.

Clip of live performance of "Lock the Door"

Robin: One, two, look at you

Three, four, she locked the door

I keep knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking

Todd (VO): He's doing his best Joe Cocker, blue-eyed soul man thing. And the backup singers playing his wife really let him have it.

Female singers: I kept trying to tell you you were pushing me too far

Robin: She locked the door

Female singers: I kept trying to warn you you were slowly breaking my heart

I'll be honest; this is the first song that really works. And he follows that with a song about how he's just gonna enjoy life as a single man, and she will too, and that's actually good.

Clip of Robin Thicke - "Whatever I Want"

Robin: (I can do whatever I want)

Yes you can baby

(I can do whatever I want)

I'm talkin', talkin' 'bout freedom

Todd (VO): And you know what? Again, probably a better move than how this album started. Prostrating yourself pathetically to your ex...

Todd: ...which is what he's doing in public.

Clip of Robin Thicke at 2014 Billboard Music Awards winning Top R&B Song

Todd (VO): May 18th, 2014: The Billboard Music Awards. Robin Thicke wins an award for "Blurred Lines".

Robin: I'd like to thank my wife for her love and support, and for putting up with me all these years.

Todd can only put his hands up as if to say, "Stop"

Todd (VO): And the cringey drunk text of a single, "Get Her Back" makes its debut later that night.

Clip of "Get Her Back" performance

Robin: Alright, y'all. Help me get her back now.

He says, "Help me get her back" several times.

Robin: Put your hands together, y'all. Help me. Help me get her back.

Todd (VO): So whatever he's attempting to do to Paula with this public message...if you cheer him on, you are complicit in it. Shout out to the uncomfortable-looking woman in the front row. [clip of live performance stops as Todd zooms in on her] She speaks for us all.

Todd: Meanwhile, back on the album, we get this line.

Audio for "Living In New York City" plays over album cover for Paula

Woman: I'm moving to New York

Clip of interview with...

Todd (VO): That's actually Paula herself who recorded that for the album. Probably the last gesture of good will Robin got from her. Or anybody.

Todd: I don't know what I expected to follow that announcement of separation. It wasn't this.

Clip of Robin performing "Living In New York City" in Times Square

Robin: Turn me up baby

Todd starts to dance a little in his seat

Black Daddy (Yeah!)

I’m livin’ in New York City (Yeah!)

I’m livin’ in New York

I’m livin’ in New York...

Todd (VO): This is "Living In New York City", which is a full-on James Brown pastiche. [pause] Doesn't really have anything to do with the breakup,

Todd: ...kinda slaps [shrugs].

Robin: Me (me), you (you), N (N) Y (Y)

Why not, (why not), why not, (why not), why not

Todd (VO): It's no [clip of...] "Uptown Funk", which is only a few months away from dropping, but it's pretty solid. And at this point in the album, I had to wonder...

Todd: Is this album actually kinda good?

Todd (VO): Who is Robin Thicke anyway? Who was he before the backlash? Like, believe it or not, he wasn't always known as a douchebag. Rolling Stone called him, [screenshot of Rolling Stone article] "gentlemanly"! [text briefly appears: !?!!!]

Video for Robin Thicke - "Magic"

I went back and listened to the albums before "Blurred Lines" and I hear a genuine talent. A silky smooth vocalist, an extremely gifted songwriter, [another clip of "Uptown Funk"] and, like Bruno Mars, clearly a connoisseur of the classics. He knows his shit, and he's good at it!

Todd: [beat] And yet...

Video for Robin Thicke - "Sex Therapy"

Todd (VO): And yet, there is just something that doesn't click about the guy. Some missing weapon in his arsenal that keeps him from joining the A-list.

Todd: I'm not usually this blunt, but...I just straight hate looking at his face.

Todd (VO): I hate looking at his dumb, smug, stupid face. [clip of "Play That Funky Music" by...] That Cracked article I mentioned earlier called Robin Thicke the new Vanilla Ice. And it lists a whole ton of connections between them; public images that fell apart, [clip of Vanilla Ice - "Ice Ice Baby"] one big hit that dwarfs all the others, [clip of Vanilla Ice interview] getting sued for plagiarism. But there's one big connection that it doesn't mention.

Todd: Which is that they were both destroyed by the same song that made them huge.

Video for...

Todd (VO): "Blurred Lines" was Robin Thicke's big pop move, his chance to jump from just R&B to the mainstream. [clip of...] But "Ice Ice Baby" and "Blurred Lines" are the worst kind of big hit. Too catchy to not listen to, but by the tenth or twentieth time you hear it, the flaws in the artists are just too hard to ignore. Vanilla's feeble rhymes, Robin's jack-off sense of humor, just an obnoxious personality behind both. ["Blurred Lines"] And I think calling "Blurred Lines" a rape anthem is probably overdoing it. [clip of Todd's review of "Blurred Lines" with "#RAPEY" stamped over the video] And in hindsight, I kinda regret wading into that discourse.

Todd: But there's no denying that it's a skeevy, pushy song!

Todd (VO): And if it reminded people of every dipshit who wouldn't leave them alone at the bar, I don't blame them.

Video for Usher - "Confessions Part II"

Usher was able to play the remorseful heal because he had people's respect after years of hits. [clip of 2013 MTV VMAs] Robin is trying to propel the Paula album with good will from "Blurred Lines" that he just does not have. But somehow, at the same time...

Todd: ...I found myself having some kind of sympathy for the devil here.

Clip of Robin Thicke - "Black Tar Cloud"

Robin: You’re yelling and screaming and smacking me

"How could you do this? You spoiled little rich kid"

Todd (VO): In the middle of the record, you get "Black Tar Cloud", which is the darkest song on the record. And it is detailed.

Robin: You were lying in bed (truth)

Said you took twenty pills (truth)

Now I’m calling the ambulance, police

I’m freakin' out till you said, "Chill"

Jesus Christ.

Todd: Okay, there is one other record besides Confessions that looms large over this one.

Clip of TV advertisement for...

Todd (VO): That is Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye. [another clip of Robin in court] Not the first time Thicke drew inspiration from Marvin Gaye, ho-ho. [ad continues] Yeah, like Robin, Marvin was coked out of his mind while making Here, My Dear, which is an album about his then-recent divorce. It's super acclaimed by critics; I actually find it kind of a difficult listen, 'cause Marvin's so bitter and angry. [clip of Gaye performing at Montreaux, 1980] But there is definitely a cringey fascination in it; it's so TMI. You listen to it, and you know everything, and you feel like you shouldn't be watching this, but you can't help yourself.

Clip of live performance of Robin Thicke - "Too Little Too Late"

Robin: (It’s too little, too little, too late)

Don’t you say it baby

That isn't quite the same as what Robin's doing, because Robin's not spiteful. He mostly lays into himself.

Todd: But there is that same kind of voyeuristic, "can't look away" aspect to it.

Todd (VO): It's morbidly fascinating, and it shows the weird contradiction in the album's admission. He's trying to get Paula back, but the project fails the hardest when it's trying to be romantic. It's at its best when Robin's admitting what a giant shithead he is, and airing all their dirty laundry. [clip of Paula Patton interview] None of this could possibly make her want to take him back!

Todd: And maybe the best song about the breakup is a song called, "The Opposite Of Me".

Audio for "The Opposite Of Me" plays over clip of "You're My Fantasy"

Robin: All that she wants is the honesty

All that she wants is the opposite of me

Todd (VO): A gently, early-'60s sounding thing where he seems to realize that none of this is gonna work.

Robin: All that she wants is the action not the words

If you read the album as Robin going through the five stages of grief, this would be acceptance, and it plays a lot better than denial or bargaining. It sounds like him finally being honest with himself about how badly he fucked up.

Todd: But, again, that's not what he's doing in public.

Clip of Robin performing "Forever Love" at the BET Awards

Robin: You and I were meant to be

Forever love

Todd (VO): June 29th, 2014: Robin Thicke performs the album closer, "Forever Love" at the BET Awards. He is doing his best to look the penitent, heartbroken man. He is not pulling it off.

Snippet of Robin pausing before continuing the song

[sarcastically] Oh, that pause. Oh, he's so moved, he had to interrupt his performance to hold back his tears. Oh, look at...

Todd: How could that possibly have been more contrived?!

Clip of Robin crying on his piano; "PAULA" flashes above the stage

Todd can only groan in disgust

Todd: What Paula thinks about any of this, we don't know. We might never.

Todd (VO): Maybe it's not really meant for her. Maybe it's all a show for his career, and she's aware of all that. Who knows? But all indications are that it was for real. And if so, it's fuckin' gross. It's manipulative, and it's creepy; it's like pressuring someone into marriage by [image of...] proposing on the jumbotron. And for a lot of people, this is the moment where Robin loses them for good.

Todd: Speaking of losing people for good, here's a song on the album called "Tippy Toes"!

Audio for "Tippy Toes" plays over live performance

Robin: Dancin’ on her tippy toes

Her tippy toes

Dancin’ on her tippy toes

Todd (VO): If this album were a musical, [clip from The Music Man] this would be the "Shipoopi". Like, it has nothing to do with anything. I guess it's there to lighten the mood, but it's so stupid. The hook is super repetitive, and it's mostly just annoying. [clip of...] After that is, "Something Bad", where again, Robin tries to revel in being a bad boy.

Fifth Harmony: You been such a bad baby, bad baby

Robin: Oh yeah, I've been so bad

What are these backup singers? It sounds like a bad outtake from the [movie poster for...] Dick Tracy soundtrack.

Todd: And at this point, I had to wonder: "Is this album actually bad after all?"

Todd (VO): Actually, the backup singing is kinda awful throughout the album. And once I noticed it, I couldn't not notice it. [clip of Robin Thicke - "Time of Your Life"] Oh, and there's a moment where Robin tries his Michael Buble on, and the horns sound like crap.

Todd: Look, Paula is a rush job.

Todd (VO): For the Blurred Lines album, Robin worked with the hottest producers like Timbaland,, the Neptunes. [clip of "Get Her Back"] Paula is produced by Robin and his regular collaborator, Pro Jay, and no one else. And he pounds out the record in a month.

Todd: Not only is he turning off his old fans with all the public drama, he's turning off the new fans he made with "Blurred Lines"!

Clip of Robin Thicke interview on ABC News

Todd (VO): I'm sure that in the thick of it...

Todd: Heh-heh, "the Thicke of it."

Todd (VO): I'm sure that in the thick of it, all the drama felt like something he needed to address, and quickly...

Todd: ...but, did he?

Todd (VO): I-I don't care about Robin Thicke. He's not like an icon or anything.

Todd: Before this shit show record, I didn't even know they were married!

Clip of live performance

Todd (VO): Like, maybe his divorce mattered to his die-hard fans, or if you're super into R&B or tabloids, but to the casual listener, he's just the "Blurred Lines" guy!

Todd: Just make "Blurred Lines Part II"!

Todd (VO): But he's not. And there's no radio hooks on the album. Internally, Robin's label is having the same problem. They think of the record as more of a mixtape and not a real album, and they don't think it's a good idea to treat it like one...

Todd: ...but Robin cannot be dissuaded.

Clip of Robin on Hot 97

Ebro: We're popping bottles, and it's album time. I just bought the album, too.

Todd (VO): July 1st: The album drops. Robin Thicke does a number of radio interviews to promote it, and he looks a fuckin' wreck.

Robin: Last year's really just kind of a blur in many ways.

One serious disadvantage of being a white boy in R&B is that [image of Eric Benet] black don't crack. As opposed to Robin, who is not aging well at all. He's pushing 40, and it looks like he's put on 40 more in just the past year. And all the substance abuse cannot be helping.

Todd: It will never be easier to drop him from your life.

Clip of Robin performing on Good Morning America

Todd (VO): The album comes out, and reviews are...mixed. [screenshot of article: "Robin Thicke, Paula, review: 'genuinely embarrassing'"] Some critics think it's embarrassing in a positive way, you know, it's honest, it's raw, it's dark. [another screenshot of LA Times review: "Review Robin Thicke knows no shame on 'Paula'"] Others think it's embarrassing in an embarrassing way. ["Robin Thicke's Paula Is One of the Creepiest Albums Ever Made"] Some critics are even harsher. But what the critics think...

Todd: ...doesn't really matter considering what's coming.

Clip of "Forever Love"

Robin: Forever love

Oh, forever love

Todd (VO): The album, it ends with "Forever Love", a song which...kinda sounds okay as a fond good-bye, but unfortunately, I was introduced to it as a [clip of BET Awards performance] creepy public manipulation, so...yeah. And that'll take us to...

Todd: ...July 8th: The sales numbers from the first week are in.

Todd (VO): [screenshot of article: "Robin Thicke's Paula Is Monumental Flop, Fails To Break The Top 100"] And they are catastrophic. [shot of Billboard 200 chart with Paula debuting at #9] In the US, it sells 24,000 copies.

Todd: For perspective...

Clip of Jordan Smith performance on The Voice

Todd (VO): The debut album of Jordan Smith, who won season 9 of The Voice, sold 54,000 copies its first week.

Todd: Who the fuck is Jordan Smith?! I dunno!

Todd (VO): But he's more than twice as big as Robin Thicke apparently!

Video for "Get Her Back"

That's an 86% drop from Blurred Lines. And that's before looking at the numbers from other English-speaking countries where Robin had also been big. [album sales numbers appear over the video] 550 copies in Canada; 530 in the UK; 158 in Australia.

Todd: Not 158,000; 158. These numbers are impossible.

Clip from The Brilliant Idiots Podcast

Andrew Schulz: People sell more records in Times Square on the street than Robin Thicke sold in England.

Todd (VO): Even the people who hated him couldn't fathom how low he'd fallen. [clip of "Blurred Lines"] The same man who was just a year earlier bragging about the size of his dick...

Todd: looked flaccid and shrunken and deflated.

Video for...

Todd (VO): The end of the "Get Her Back" video promises that, "This is [only] the beginning." It was not. There would be no second single.

Clip of Good Morning America

The marriage, of course, did not recover because putting your wife's name on a giant, flaming world-renowned failure is generally not considered a good move. [clip of Paula Patton on The Meredith Vieira Show] If Paula's ever even listened to the album, we don't know. She's never discussed it publicly, and she doesn't really need to; she just let it fail on its own merits.

Video for Robin Thicke ft. Nicki Minaj - "Back Together"

Todd (VO): Robin has been trying and failing to put out another record since then, but none of his singles have gone anywhere, so the album remains unfinished and unreleased. Seems like most everyone is done with him. [clip of live performance] And yet, Robin Thicke says he has no regrets about it.

Todd: Well, yes he does...

Todd (VO): ...about the public appearances and the marketing, and...maybe even charging money for the record. But he doesn't regret putting it out there. He says it's honest, and he's proud of it.

Todd: [shrugs] Look...

Clip of...

Todd (VO): ...Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear was also a critical and commercial flop at first. Today, it's considered a masterpiece.

Todd: Robin is no Marvin Gaye, but...

Todd (VO): wouldn't surprise me if the Paula album gains defenders in hindsight. Like Gone Girl, it's a man realizing just how limited his charm is. And since it failed so hard, [clip of Ben Affleck with Henry Cavill promoting Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice] there's the pathos of the Sad Affleck meme around it now. It's so naked and pathetic. And maybe alone is as much a manipulation as the more obvious attempts that failed. I can't really sympathize with him, and I can't quite recommend the album either.

Todd: Too much of it just flatly sucks, and its very existence is so shitty for the woman it's addressed to.

Todd (VO): But, despite myself, I can't claim that I didn't find Thicke's wallowing at least partially compelling. Like I said, people wanted to see Robin Thicke fail.

Todd: And on the album, Paula, he gave me exactly what I wanted [shrugs].

Live performance ends

Ending music: Todd plays "Get Her Back" on piano


"Paula" is owned by Interscope Records

This video is owned by me


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