Lately there has been talk of a silent competition between stars Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke. The first and most obvious comparison being that they are both white R&B stars, but also that the music itself sounds very similar and that Mr. Timberlake is the one biting from Thicke, namely with the grown man anthem, “Suit & Tie.”
By now, we know that Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience went almost platinum the first week, and also that Robin Thicke’s single “Blurred Lines” featuring frequent Timberlake collaborator Pharrell and the Trouble Man himself, T.I., has set the summer ablaze, being called this summer’s anthem. Also, when comparing both of their latest releases musically, The 20/20 Experience is a bit more experimental production wise, while Thicke’s new release, Blurred Lines, has more of a traditional R&B sound with clear modern influences. Yes, they do have similar singing styles, an affinity for similar producers and songwriters, and have worked with a nude model or three. However, there are clear distinctions as well. Their mutual success is proof that both artists are heavily respected and appreciated by the pop world as well as R&B fans.
Why were they pitted against each other in the first place? Was there any kind of ill will between them? Not according to Thicke: “I like the song,” says Thicke about “Suit & Tie.” “The thing about Justin and I is that we’re inspired by a lot of the same singers–Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Stevie Wonder–so when you’re inspired by the same masters, sometimes you’re gonna make certain songs that sound alike but I like the record. It grooves.”
True! No one is speaking of how similar Trey Songz and Chris Brown can be. It’s to be expected when brought up in a similar culture with similar influences; some of your music may have a similar feel. Highly unlikely that either Thicke or Timberlake are purposefully trying to sound like each other. That, in fact, is a silly notion, as is the idea that we have to pit them against each other. No matter whom you like better individually, music fans win no matter what, and that’s the point of it all.