Ever since Justin Timberlake returned to music with “Suit And Tie” back in January, he received many different kinds of comparisons to another white R&B singer/songwriter, Los Angeles native Robin Thicke. The sounds of JT’s The 20/20 Experience also allowed him to step into Robin’s territory more than ever before. It’s Neo-Soul inspired sound was complete with signature falsettos, old fashion R&B production structures, that was reinterpreted with that Timberlake/Timbaland finesse found on his previous work. When Justin gave his premiere performance for the album at the 2013 Grammy Awards, that sound was given the visual aid of Justin appropriately in suit and tie, fronting a whole band, complete with strings, horns and more. This new slick look with a new haircut was something that looked to be right out of Robin Thicke’s playbook from just only a few years back.
The two of them have been compared to each other in small ways since Thicke’s breakthrough in 2007. At that time Robin signed to Star Trak Records, founded by The Neptunes. (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) Prior to working with Thicke, The Neptunes worked with many superstars in Pop and Urban music in the late 90s and early 2000s. Included among those artists on their resume was a 19 year old Justin Timberlake. They collaborated with JT on 9 songs for his first post *N Sync R&B flavored project, Justified in 2002.
However despite past comparisons because of sharing some music industry contacts, these days the similarities have more to do with the development of the two performer’s actual artistic directions. For example, elements of JT’s current presentation resembles how Robin has done things for many years. Having a live band incorporated in his sound is something Thicke has done for the majority of his career. Therefore because the two of them have similar influences, are close in age, and have a similar vocal style, fans of both artists have been saying that there are now more similarities between the two artists than differences. With all that said, it can be argued that the similarities are nothing more than coincidental and the two of them are just playing a part in an overall Soul music resurgence that has a larger cast of musicians, including other notable greats like Bruno Mars, Miguel, Emeli Sande, and others. However upon the recent release of Justin’s music video for “Tunnel Vision”, the Thicke/Timberlake conversation started up yet again.
This time the comparisons came not from the sounds of their songs, but from one similarity found in both their recent videos. That similarity is female nudity! Yes that’s, like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” before it, Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision” contains shots of topless woman dancing to his music, while Justin stands near them. The video is seven minutes long and features three close to naked women moving in flashing lights. While the women in Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video are very obviously just topless, some of the shots in Justin’s video actually make the women appear as though they are completely nude. However Jason Lipshutz of Billboard recently reported that the women are actually wearing flesh-colored g-strings. One of the main differences from JT’s video compared to Thicke’s video is what the women are actually doing while they are topless. In “Blurred Lines” the women are seen just having fun, goofing around and dancing with Robin, Pharrell and T.I.. In “Tunnel Vision” however the dancing is much more sexually suggestive. In some of the shots the dancing resembles what could be seen in any high class strip club.
After seeing everything that happened with the “Blurred Lines” video, when JT released his racy video for “Tunnel Vision”, you could not help but compare him to Robin once again. However for one reason or another Justin’s video is appearing to be creating it’s own set of rules with the staff at YouTube. Following the release of the video, it was shortly banned with an accompanying message saying, “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on nudity or sexual content”. However, shortly after that, the site reinstated the video with a content warning and requiring viewers to sign in to confirm their age. A representative of YouTube didn’t want to comment on individual videos; however, a statement was issued, saying, “While our guidelines generally prohibit nudity, we make exceptions when it is presented in an educational, documentary or artistic context, and take care to add appropriate warnings and age restrictions.”
While that statement makes sense and shows why Justin’s video deserves to remain on YouTube, it also points out a bit of double standard. It could be argued that Justin is being given some special treatment from the staff of YouTube. This is because Robin’s unrated version of “Blurred Lines” very obviously falls into was never reinstated despite obviously falling into the same category. It also would be fair to say that even though both clips contain nudity, Justin’s “Tunnel Vision” is considerably more sexually suggestive. However in YouTube’s defense, maybe they did not see the need to reinstate the unrated version of “Blurred Lines” since the edited version receives just as much attention in its place. As of now there is no “edited version” of Justin’s “Tunnel Vision” video. See which video is more racy for yourself below! Obviously since these videos contain the female nudity that has been discussed in this article parental discretion is advised.
Robin Thicke Featuring Pharrell Williams & T.I.
“Blurred Lines” (Unrated Version)
From Blurred Lines
Star Trak/Interscope Records
“Tunnel Vision” (EXPLICIT CONTENT)
From The 20/20 Experience