33 Breakup Albums You Should Be Listening to Instead of Robin Thicke's 'Paula'
Plenty of fans are listening to Robin Thicke's new album, Paula, and thinking, "This marriage may not be salvageable." And by that, they mean the sacred contract between performer and audience, not the one between Thicke and his estranged wife, Paula Patton — although that's obviously not going so well, either.
In devoting an entire concept album to his hopes of winning back Patton, Thicke has come up with some of the most laughably quotable lyrics of the 21st century, proving that the lines between pathos and comedy really are blurred.
He's actually indulging in a fine pop tradition, actually — The Divorce Album — although most other stars who've recorded one did it to exorcise their bitterness and not try to "Get Her Back." None of the other practitioners of the form ever wrote lyrics quite as imploring as "Ooh, turn the porch light on/At least open the doggy door" or "I should have brought you roses… and rubbed your toesies."
Are you nursing your own romantic wounds, and looking for an album about how you can do better than your ex? You can do better than Paula. Here's a sampling of some other stars' (far superior) autobiographical breakup albums:
Adele was "miserable and lonely" — duh — when she and Dan Wilson wrote "Someone Like You" about the love of her life, a decent guy who, as it indicates in the song, had not just moved on but already gotten married. This muse was the subject of nearly every other song on her mega-selling collection of laments, too. Saturday Night Live had it right with that hilariously weepy sketch: 21 is what you put on if you need a good, self-pitying cry that'll last 45 minutes longer than the one you'd get out of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."
Marvin Gaye, Here, My Dear
Hard as it is to believe, this is an even loopier and more stream-of-consciousness divorce album than Thicke's. And it has a story behind it that's just as legendary and wacked-out as the record. In 1976, the soul singer was caught up in negotiations with his soon-to-be-ex, Anna, who also happened to be the sister of his record label president, Motown's Berry Gordy. His lawyer had an idea: give her the roughly $300K he was due as an advance on his next album, along with the first few hundred thousand in royalties. Everyone agreed, and Gaye's original plan was to make an album so awful that she wouldn't get any extra money. But eventually he came around to wanting to make a complex song cycle about their life together and apart. Most critics thought it was terrible anyway — unintentionally — but some insist it's a classic of the nakedly confessional form. Sample lyric: "Somebody tell me, please/Why do I have to pay attorneys' fees?" Rather than be flattered by this album-length tribute, Anna considered filing an invasion-of-privacy suit, but thought better of it.