Has the reputation of Robin Thicke been rehabilitated?
After the fiasco of the “Blurred Lines” court case, his weird testimony, his sort of lame statements about his divorce, the sort of lame and offensive thrust of the song’s lyrics, the whole Miley Cyrus twerking incident. There are those who will never feel the same about the singer/songwriter/producer.
But there was a time when Thicke was a strange soul singer with a famous Canadian father and his earlier entry into the tabloids had to do with the relatively benign blunder of getting caught smoking pot in New York City. Thicke is an impressive student of soul and hip-hop. Like his collaborator Pharrell Williams, Thicke can take retro sounds and make them futuristic.
Thicke has loads of inspirations — the Marvin Gaye and Prince connections are fairly clear — but he also has a lot in common with that (icky) soul auteur R Kelly. Listen to Thicke’s 2009 falsetto post-innuendo bedroom jam “Sex Therapy” for a sense of how long Thicke has been alluding to other soul and R&B greats.
To his credit, Thicke is catholic and omnivorous in his poachings; he lifted some bossa-nova underpinnings from Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfa and gave them a Stevie Wonder twist on his song “Lovely Lady.”
Explore the blurred lines between creative borrowings and actual art while celebrating the arrival of a new year, or perhaps the end of an old one, when Robin Thicke plays Mohegan Sun Arena, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville, on Sunday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35. 860-226-7711 and mohegansun.com.