Take It Outside: Robin Thicke vs. Justin Timberlake

It’s the battle of blue-eyed soul. Both Robin and Justin are known for being able to croon and for making the ladies swoon. But who’s the better man? I’m here to tell you.

Album covers: Set against a red background, a bunch of Thicke clones are dancing around, and knowing him, they’re probably all high as a kite. I must admit, I haven’t seen a cover like that before, so I guess he gets points for originality.

FutureSex/LoveSounds features Justin assaulting a mirror ball. I’m sure if you asked him he’d say the cover is some convoluted symbolism of him “killing the music” or “disco being dead” or something. Uh huh.

I did notice how they’re wearing essentially the same suit. Hmmmm.

Robin Thicke 1, Justin Timberlake 0

Album quality: Back in my October review, I called Something Else equally imperfect and brilliant. Soft, heartfelt lyrics mix with Thicke’s trademark falsetto to make tracks like “Cry No More” and “The Sweetest Love” absolutely stunning in their simplicity. But that very falsetto comes back to haunt the listener on the aptly-named “Dreamworld,” one of the most boring songs of the year. The album suffers from such uneven tracks.

I give Justin a hard time – he’s such an easy target – but FutureSex/LoveSounds is one of the best albums to be released in the past 5 or 6 years. There’s a reason why nearly every track was released to radio. Timbaland and Timberlake crafted a pop paradise – beats and lyrics that, while slightly corny at times, appeals to nearly all audiences. True, overexposure has hurt some of the tracks (no one is ever allowed to use the term “sexy back” again) but it’ll go down as a genre-defining classic. Watch and see.

Robin Thicke 1, Justin Timberlake 1

Sales: Oooh, this won’t be pretty. Something Else has sold over 300,000 at this point, which isn’t that bad considering the lack of exposure it got. But FutureSex/LoveSounds has sold about 4 million stateside and an extra 4 million worldwide.

Robin Thicke 1, Justin Timberlake 2

Love for the sistas: Ladies apparently love men who wear tennis shoes with their suits. Thicke gets lots of attention from the sistas – maybe it’s his name, I don’t know. Anyway, that love is also reciprocated. In fact, he likes ’em so much he put a ring on it. He married actress Paula Patton back in ’05. And in his new video “The Sweetest Love,” the co-star is a Naomi Campbell lookalike.

Lil’ Justin also is adored by the Nubian queens. He’s always hanging out with Beyonce (watch out, Jay…) and he’s professed his loved for ladies with a little meat on their bones. But I’ve yet to actually see him date a black woman, so he’s just all talk.

Robin Thicke 2, Justin Timberlake 2

Yearbook pictures: We all hate looking at pictures of ourselves from our youth – and these two should definitely be ashamed.

Robin Thicke, circa 2003, fresh from auditioning for the role of Jesus in “The Passion of The Christ II: Holy Rollin’.”

No, that’s not broccoli, that’s Justin, circa the N’SYNC years, rockin’ the curly blond fro’. It’s like if Shirley from What’s Happening and Big Bird had a kid.

Robin Thicke 3, Justin Timberlake 2

Controversies: Late last year, Thicke raises a couple of eyebrows with comments directed to Vibe magazine. Courtesy of bossip.com:

When I did a recent interview with Vibe magazine I asked, “Why can’t I get the cover? This is a magazine I love. If there’s one magazine that I’d want to be on the cover of, it’s Vibe.” Their response was they don’t have white artists on the cover; that the only white artist they’ve had on the cover was Eminem. I guess if that’s what it is, it is what it is. And I respect that because I live in a house with a black woman.

Many people took that quote to mean “Vibe is racist!” I don’t think he was going that far. And honestly, we all know the real reason Thicke hasn’t made the cover is because he’s not a big enough star yet. And despite what he was told, they had no problem putting Justin Timberlake on the cover back in February ’03.

And how could we forget Nipplegate? During the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Justin and Janet Jackson were involved in the infamous wardrobe malfunction incident. What irritated me is how they played this up as an accident – Justin rips off a piece of Janet’s bra right after he says “bet I’ll have you naked at the end of this song”, unleashing Janet’s mammaries, which just happened to have a fancy nipple decoration.

Yeah. That seemed totally spontaneous.

You know the rest – the FCC went nuts, Janet’s career went down the tubes and Justin did his best to lay low. He really fell out of favor with the urban crowd for leaving Janet in the doghouse.

Then he released “SexyBack” and all was forgiven.

Robin Thicke 4, Justin Timberlake 2

Legacy: Although Thicke has been around for years, he’s just starting to gain a sizeable fanbase. He’s consistently put out decent albums, but he has yet to drop an album to really cement his legacy. Until he releases a bonafide banger, he’ll only be known as this generation’s Jon B.

Justin’s been on fire ever since his N’SYNC days. N’SYNC – shudder. High-profile girlfriends, TV and movie roles, high-grossing tours and two excellent solo albums. He even had beef with Prince and walked away from that unscathed. You can’t hate on that success.

Robin Thicke 4, Justin Timberlake 3

Wow, pretty big upset there. That Thicke guy might have a future after all.



  1. While I don’t think dating or marying a black woman should be a prerequisite for being into ‘soul’ music, I can kind of see why someone may believe so. Timberlake actually has dated a few black women, but briefly in his younger years. Regardless of musical taste, most people date within their race.

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