From begging during performances to recording and titling his new album after Paula Patton, Robin Thicke has been trying hard—publicly, at least—to get his estranged wife back.
Will the public campaign, including his album, help repair their marriage of nine years? Only time will tell. Thicke told Hot 97 that Patton has heard some songs from the album, but not the entire thing: “She’s only heard a few songs, and I don’t think she wants to hear it right now.”
If, or when, Patton hears the album, will she take him back? Should she (knowing what we know)?
I asked ten female music critics, influential in the game, if they’d take Robin Thicke back after listening to”Paula.” Check out their thoughts below:
Clover Hope (@clovito): “Whether I’d take him back or not depends on his real-life actions, not his sweet falsetto. I’m a forgiving person, though, so I’d hear him out. My sentimental side would initially be in a puddle over a man dedicating an album to me and naming it “Clover.” But that’s not a get-out-of-the-doghouse-free card. Robin Thicke made this pity-party project because he messed up, which factors in majorly. And the lyrics about our private conflicts (like “Black Tar Cloud”) would make me cringe. At the same time, it might open communication lines to talk about these issues IRL.”
Devon Anjelica Brown (@DeviDev): “I love love. That said, I dove into “Paula” with hopes of reconciliation.”Get Her Back” and “Forever Love” had me cheering on Thicke’s approach, but as the album played on—and especially after a second listen—it felt self indulgent. Even in the day & age of reality TV, it felt embarrassing to have this access into their marriage. I’d take him back [because] of my love for love, but only if he fits couples therapy into the tour schedule.”
Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000): “No. Never. It’s amazing how it was only two albums ago that Thicke was discussing the “concept” for “Sex Therapy,” where he and Paula Patton were having ridiculous amounts of sex in random cities or something. That wasn’t good enough for you? Having her moan on “Shakin’ It For Daddy”—aka the song that set women’s lib back like 30 years—wasn’t enough that you had to hang out at the strip club some more? This “Paula” project is like Drake with a restraining order, with cleverly titled songs like “Love Can Grow Back” and “Still Madly Crazy” that have thinly veiled lyrics about how he messed up and deserves redemption. Come on son dot com. I don’t buy any of it. Plus, I just saw him in some radio interview and he looked freshly fucked so my guess is he’s getting it in until Paula caves. If she does, that is.”
Maura Johnston (@maura): “Reconciliation would probably depend in part on whether or not he’d also sent flowers or a nice bottle of wine in addition to just, you know, putting the record out there for it to be picked apart by the peanut gallery—a relationship that’s lasted as long as theirs has obviously can’t be summed up by 14 songs, even ones as self-lacerating-slash-apologetic as “Black Tar Cloud” or hopeful as “Forever Love.” (Read more of Maura’s thoughts on Robin Thicke’s “Paula” over at Wondering Sound.)
Karen Civil (@karencivil): “Robin has been wearing his heart on his sleeve as of late. It’s evident he loves his wife and is doing his hardest to get her back. It’s a romantic gesture but I wish it didn’t have to come to this for him to realize the prize he had. I’m actually hoping he can win her back, cause this Paula campaign is something straight out of a Telenovela.”
Taj Rani (@TAJrani): “After listening to Robin Thicke’s new album, “Paula,” I’m not sure if I would take him back. I think that he’s at a breaking point and probably the most honest that he’s ever been, so I would be willing to try to remain close friends with him. But after suffering through the humiliation of his exploits, I don’t know if I would be able to put my pride to the side and take him back. Songs like “Black Tar Cloud” and “Living in New York City” let me know that for the time being, in order for me (as Paula) to be happy and healthy, remaining single or without him would probably be my best bet.”
Claire Lobenfeld (@clairevlo): “Once Thicke diverged from the grand overtures and yearning, I was shocked that the album became a concept musical where he’s moving to New York and doing heroin. If I’m Paula, I’m staying away from both him and the media until he shows and proves in private.”
Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe): “Ha! I’m not a huge Thicke fan so I’m not going to listen to the album, but I can say that it seems like a disingenuous and cheap publicity stunt. I seriously doubt that the album is a sign of emotional maturity or an effort towards real reconciliation, so I’mma have to go with naw on that one. Plus, Paula was pretty great in ‘Baggage Claim’—she doesn’t need him to be successful; she’s doing it for herself right now.”
Lauren Nostro (@LAURENcynthia): “After listening and skipping around a few tracks, the question isn’t really whether or not I, or we, would hypothetically take Robin Thicke back. “Paula” is extremely invasive; it’s an album that exudes guilt in a fashion that puts Thicke as the victim and Patton as a villain, if she doesn’t understand just “how sorry” he feels. Even the media has jumped in on it, with VH1’s #AskThicke and a tweet that basically says, ‘Paula, aw, you should take him back! Or we will.'”
“If Thicke is sorry for some personal things that went down in his relationship—and this is with or without them being a celebrity couple—he explicitly used an album, an entire marketing scheme, and pleaded for her back with the help of media outlets. Not only is it pathetic, but it’s unfair and down right threatening. Would I take my estranged husband back if he hypothetically did the same thing to me? No. I’d sue.”
Jillian Mapes (@jumonsmapes): “To answer your question: no, I would not take Robin Thicke back based on the efforts exhibited here on “Paula.” Not only is the album’s basic concept most likely embarrassing to Patton, some of the songs should be embarrassing to Thicke (such as the album’s more hackneyed moments: “Tippy Toes” and “Something Bad”). It’s hard to pinpoint what’s more inappropriate: not respecting your estranged wife’s privacy, or singing about your interactions with other women on an album intended to win her back.” (Read more of Jillian’s thoughts on Robin Thicke’s “Paula” over at Flavorwire.)