His “Blurred Lines” single has ruled the Billboard Hot 100 all summer. Now Robin Thicke, 36, is dropping Blurred Lines the album on July 30. The R&B crooner—and son of Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke—chats with TIME.
ROBIN THICKE: Sorry I’m late. I was in the steam room and I’m looking at the clock and I go, okay, it’s 5:00—and I’m like ‘holy sh*t! I’ve got an interview!’
TIME: I’m sorry to interrupt your steam!
How dare you? [laughs]
Congratulations on the three MTA Video Music Award nominations for “Blurred Lines.” The response to the video has been incredible.
We’re very excited. I just wanted to make a fun, silly video because I hadn’t made one of those. And [ director] Diane Martel, who I’ve known for 10 years, she knew me more than almost any other director I could have picked. She just kind of wanted to show a different side of me than I had shown, which is exactly what I wanted to do, and I just put my trust in her hands and she knocked it out of the park.
There are a lot of buzzed-about moments in the video—the half-naked-model dance, the balloon message about your manhood, etc. Did you argue over who would do what?
We all followed [Martel's] lead. She would just yell out, “Sausages! Grab the sausages! Robin! Get in there!” And we just shot all day. I don’t think she took a lunch break. It was manic because she knew she had to make two videos so it became kind of manic, but it was a blast.
So it was all impromptu? You didn’t sit down before and say, ‘T.I., you’re going to brush the hair’?
We really didn’t. I’m sure she had some ideas in her head. The good thing is you know there’s an editing room, so you’re up for anything when you’re shooting because you know you can always take it out later. She’d say, ‘I want to do this thing with balloons that say Robin Thicke has a big…’ and I’d say ‘I don’t think that’s going to work, but you know what, just shoot it.’
What was your favorite moment on set?
Definitely Pharrell [Williams] holding the lamb. I don’t think he’s held a lot of farm animals.
What was it like the first time you saw the final version?
I loved the clothed version, and the nude version I thought maybe was a little too much. The gentleman in me wasn’t sure that it was necessary. Then I showed it to my wife and all of her friends and everyone’s immediate response seemed to be ‘This is amazing. You have to put this out.’
People have criticized the song’s lyrics—like “You’re a good girl/ I know you want it”—for being “rape-y.” How do you respond to that?
It’s natural. Art is supposed to create conversation so we knew there would be conversation and that I don’t mind. It was only the one article that the lady wrote where she was implying that the lyrics of the song suggested rape or something, and I was like now wait a second, that’s not fair. I thought that that was irresponsible. But what art is supposed to do is make us talk about what’s going on in the world, and where we are as men and women and all those kinds of the things. I don’t mind having that conversation.
What’s your take on saying the word hashtag—yea or nay?
Right now it’s pretty funny. It’ll go away quickly.
It’ll get #old?
Yeah, it’ll get #used.
You co-wrote a song for this album with your dad. What was that like?
My dad has always been one of my best friends and Mr. Cool. He never stops creating and writing and stuff like that, so he was working with my production partner on just a couple song ideas he was trying to flesh out for a musical that he’s helping write, and I happened to be finishing a couple songs there that day. I came to the studio and I was, like, hold on Dad, I have to put a couple ideas down for this song I’m writing. And then he started throwing out some words to me, and I was, like, that’s really good, Dad, I’m going to use that. After a while, we ended up writing pretty much all the verses together.
It’s impressive that you guys rhymed obstreperous with “a cost to us.”
That’s obviously my father. That’s someone with a college degree.
How are you gonna top the “Blurred Lines” video?
I have no idea.
We definitely don’t want to go further. I have a feeling Diane Martel wants to go further, but that’s because she’s standing behind the camera. I haven’t seen the lightbulb go off yet on the perfect idea but we’re still trying to find it.