Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' Surges On Charts Thanks to a NSFW Kickstart

Robin Thicke

Steven Taylor

What began as a single with little label promotion has turned into Robin Thicke’s biggest Hot 100 hit to date. “Blurred Lines,” Thicke’s now Internet famous (and increasingly famous famous) single soared 54-12 on the June 1 chart, its fifth on the tally. This week, it rises to No. 11.

"We didn’t even have a radio plan,” Thicke’s manager Jordan Feldstein says, recalling the R&B/pop hybrid’s humble beginnings. “We just had a song we loved. We half-heartedly tried to tie it to the finale to the ‘Real House Husbands of Hollywood,’ which (Thicke) was on at the time, but they didn’t really care, either. We went out and made a video without the label. Without anyone, we raised the financing and made a great video."

The infamously not-safe-for-work clip, which features Thicke (along with collaborators T.I. and Pharrell Williams) frolicking with three topless women, was quickly banned on YouTube. But the controversy gained “Blurred Lines” some much-needed traction, and by the time the promotional cycle began in late April, it was on the fast track. Its triumphant fifth week on the Hot 100 was the early breakthrough.

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“I think that moment was triggered with ‘The Voice,’” Interscope Geffen A&M vice chairman Steve Berman says, referencing Thicke’s May 14 performance on the show. “And we're very fortunate to have an incredible ad campaign where Beats Electronics and Radio Shack ran a campaign that mimicked the video… They put an incredible media campaign behind the spot. That in conjunction with the performances really ignited it.”

Thicke also appeared on the May 16 episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” giving the track network TV exposure in both prime-time and daytime formats.

“We have 26 markets where the song went No. 1 on iTunes. It has moved like wildfire around the world,” Berman says. The single was the biggest digital gainer on the June 1 Hot Digital Songs chart, jumping 23-2.. “Radio is really starting to play catch up to what’s going on online and now on iTunes,” Feldstein says. Also in the June 1 issue, “Blurred Lines” debuted in the Radio Songs tally at No. 74. Mainstream top 40 KMVQ San Francisco was its biggest supporter, with 97 spins during May 15-21’s tracking period, almost 20 spins more than the next station.

For Thicke’s core fan base, a new single with a more familiar R&B vibe, “For the Rest of My Life,” is being serviced to Urban AC radio next week. According to Feldstein, a late July release date is being considered for Thicke’s forthcoming LP which will appropriately carry the same title as its breakout hit.

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