These days, Robin Thicke is a gold and platinum-selling artist. A Grammy winner, the son of actors Alan Thicke and Gloria Loring defines R&B smoothness. However, it took a while for him to become “Robin Thicke.” At the outset of his performing career, he was simply “Thicke,” and his persona was more daring funkster (with a romantic streak) than suited-up smoothie.

Robin had already made a name for himself as a singer and songwriter before his debut album, A Beautiful World, was released in 2003. He’d written songs for Brandy, Christina Aguilera and Michael Jackson, and co-wrote and co-produced much of New Kid Jordan Knight’s surprisingly excellent solo debut in 1999. On his own, Robin’s music suggested a variety of influences, but came closest to the rock/soul fusion of artists like Lenny Kravitz and Jamiroquai. The music was good, but not necessarily sellable. Robin’s shaggy-haired neo-hippie visual look didn’t help much, either.

I was a fan almost from the second I heard “When I Get You Alone” on the radio in the summer of 2002. I was working as a record store manager at the time, and I harrassed my Universal rep for a promo of his album, which I wound up getting over six months before A Beautiful World was finally released. From the jump, one of my favorite songs was the upbeat “Brand New Jones.” The upbeat tune probably had the most pop sense of any track on the album, with a slightly Jackson-ish vibe (now it makes sense, right?)

I kinda assumed that A Beautiful World had kinda died on the vine after “Alone” failed to catch fire, but apparently “Brand New Jones” was released as a single, and a video was even made for it. The clip catches Thicke sort of in between phases. He had trimmed the shoulder-length mane (slightly) and was wearing a natty suit as opposed to his hippie threads. Regardless of the look, though-this song fucking kills. Listen to it and I dare you to not dance.

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