NEW YORK -- This summer's most popular video almost never got released, because R&B singer/songwriter Robin Thicke "didn't work this long on my career to throw it all out the window over boobs."
That was Thicke's initial reaction to director Diane Martel's clip for Blurred Lines, the title track and debut single from his new album, out Tuesday -- and his first No. 1 pop hit. The song has occupied that position on Billboard's Hot 100 for seven weeks, longer than any other tune this year, and has sold more than 3.5 million downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The video, if you've somehow managed to miss it, features scantily clad models -- they appear topless in the explicit version -- prancing around as Thicke and his collaborators, producer Pharrell Williams and guest T.I., ogle them.
"I wanted to do something fun," says Thicke, 36, whose father is Canadian actor and comedian Alan Thicke and whose uncle, Todd Thicke, is co-executive producer of America's Funniest Home Videos. "It was always a contest for who had the best punch lines at dinner and family parties. I wanted to show that side of myself."
It was Martel's idea to have the models disrobe, Thicke says. The singer "got scared" when he saw the finished product, but wound up deferring to another woman: his wife, actress Paula Patton. "I played (the explicit version) for her and her girlfriends, and everybody said, 'This is way too cool, way too sexy.'"
Thicke's comedic intent is also plain, with everyone making faces and the women clowning around with random props. But that hasn't stopped a few critics from denouncing the clip and the song, a come-on to "a good girl" that includes lyrics such as, "You're an animal, baby... I know you want it," as sexist.
Some have gone even further. A story posted in mid-June at The Daily Beast, detailing negative reaction, was headlined, Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke's Summer Anthem, Is Kind of Rapey.
Asked about the brouhaha several weeks later, Thicke still seems mystified. "We knew it would get a little controversy," he admits. "But to use the word 'rapey?' When Pharrell and I are just dancing around, acting like complete fools? And when we're both happily married men?"
For Alan Light, programming director for public television's Live From the Artists Den, "the goofiness of Blurred Lines is what's charming. It's not an easy tone to hit, to be silly and sexy at the same time."
As Thicke puts it, "If I went up to a girl in a club and told her, 'I know you want it,' I think she'd know I was joking. It's all in the delivery, you know?"
He adds, "Anybody who knows me knows that (Blurred Lines) doesn't represent my whole personality. It's just a happy song. When my 80-year-old grandfather heard it, he said, 'Sonny boy, you've got a hit! We're dancing around the house!' And I thought, maybe I have something here."
-- USA Today