Thursday, July 3, 2014

Won the War: Justin Timberlake V.S. Robin Thicke

This is a series inspired by a tweet from perpetual lightning rod for controversy Azealia Banks when she inferred that although Michael Jackson won the battle, Prince won the war. This will be my take on which two rivals in packaging in the U.S. Music Industry, won the war in terms of longer success.

Round 3 of Won the War involves former N*SYNC punching bag turned solo singer Justin Timberlake against recent mainstream phenom and creepy uncle of music Robin Thicke. They both shook off an image of their initial careers. Justin shook off "boy bander" while Robin shook off commercial bust on his debut. With recent efforts getting them some level of success, let's figure out...

In longevity terms, who merely won the battle...and who Won the War?

As of 2014, Justin has 4 albums to his name; the most recent effort being The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 in the fall of last year. Robin has 7 with the just released (July 1st, the day I started writing this) effort, Paula (Which is named for the wife he cheated on and is trying to woo back; -_- -_- -_- -_-) but without much of the singles known, his last complete effort was his 6th released, the 2013 effort Blurred Lines.

Here's their album peaks from highest to lowest...

Justin Timberlake
- FutureSex/LoveSounds at #1
- The 20/20 Experience at #1
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 at #1
- Justified at #2

Robin Thicke
- Blurred Lines at #1
- Something Else at #3
- The Evolution of Robin Thicke at #5
- Sex Therapy: The Session at #9
- Love After War at #22
- A Beautiful World at #152 [considering this is of the Billboard 200 ranks, it sounds pathetic. However, Thicke was signed under a different boutique/vanity label of Interscope Records. Read "different" as "label that ain't shit."]

Due to the fact that these two have made something of a name for themselves, radio has played their songs every now and again. In terms of longevity when was their last #1 hit on the Hot 100?
*Reminder: Hot 100 ranking does matter if you're absolutely looking for a gauge of where an artist is in terms of popularity*

Justin's last #1 on the Hot 100 was "What Goes Around... Comes Around" from the 2006 release FutureSex/LoveSounds. 2 albums and 8 years ago? O_O Robin's last #1 was "Blurred Lines" from last year. However, that is his only #1 hit.

The last Top 10 hit? Justin has "Not a Bad Thing" from his most recent album at #8. Not bad considering that part 1 and 2 of "The 20/20" experience was 6 months apart and seemed a bit rushed. Robin on the other hand has never had a Top 10/Not #1 hit; ever. The closest he got was "Lost Without U" at #14 in 2007.

Normally, acting in movies and comparing stats through Rotten Tomatoes would be next. However, as far as I know, Robin Thicke has never been in a movie. His personal life however, is playing like the tackiest soap opera in production. *shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaade*

Musically, there are naturally some weak points in an artists' career when say...a lead single doesn't go to #1 or released singles chart really low. These are the positions at the lowest of Justin and Robin's careers...

Justin Timberlake's Lowest Charting Singles:
- Lowest Charting Lead Single: "Take Back the Night" at #29 on the Hot 100.
- Lowest Charting Released Single: "TKO" at #36 on the Hot 100.

Robin Thicke's Lowest Charting Singles:
- Lowest Charting Lead Single: "Magic" at #59 on the Hot 100.
- Lowest Charting Released Single: "Can U Believe" at #99 on the Hot 100.

Their chart nadirs are rather telling of their careers. Timberlake's chart nadirs came from the same album, but even at his charting lowest they were still in the Top 40 of the Hot 100. That is nothing to sneer at, especially considering that his tenure for SNL guest appearances has more or less overshadowed his music career. Keep in mind, the gap between albums 2 and 3 was technically 6 years.
Thicke's chart nadirs went from his lowest from his album The Evolution of Robin Thicke to his lowest lead single of verified effort Something Else. In terms of career, he was on a rise until "something else" [the scandal] came up. 2013 rolled around and Pharrell alongside T.I. helped make Robin Thicke a thing in popular music (They even contributed to the "pearl clutching controversy" of the song which media outlets had eloquently described as "rapey".) Then, the only song he's had mega-success with gets the attention of the Marvin Gaye estate for plagiarism accusations. Add the scandal of him cheating on his wife and the separation that follows and the fact he named his July 1st released album Paula in the most desperate looking attempt of wooing her back and this much is clear; at least he'll be a two hit wonder before his personal life overwhelms his career.

Now for the final points: iconic singles AKA, the one single people know is by that artist.

Justin's signature song is the earworm "SexyBack". It could easily be "Rock Your Body" or "Cry Me a River" as well, but "SexyBack is the song people cannot shut up about the minute its name is uttered.

Robin's signature song is "Blurred Lines". Enough said here. *shaaaaaaaaaaade*

Forget bits of info for posterity; I think it's time we reveal the winner. One has 4 Top 3 albums; one just hit #1 in the biggest way conceivable; one has relied on perceived male pop vocalist talent; the other owes a muffin basket the size of Earth to Pharrell and the MTV Video Music Awards...the result is as follows...

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