Pharrell makes everyone ‘Happy’ with first solo album in 8 years
If you’ve somehow missed Pharrell Williams in the past year, crawl out from underneath that rock and welcome to the world of one of today’s biggest stars. Despite the fact that Pharrell has been around for years (in case you’ve forgotten, he’s the lead singer of N*E*R*D), the multi-talented singer jumped into the mainstream music scene in a major way in 2013, and so far, he shows no signs of slowing in 2014.
A large part of this recent surge in popularity has to do with how many hit songs that Pharrell has been featured in from collaborating with other artists; Pharrell lent his vocal talent last year in two songs off Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories, including the wildly popular single “Get Lucky,” and Robin Thicke featured him in the worldwide hit “Blurred Lines.”
However, it’s Pharrell’s work on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack that undoubtedly contributed the most to his burst of fame, as the lead single “Happy” has been playing near-nonstop on radio stations across the globe since last November. The song also serves as the lead single on Pharrell’s newest, and much anticipated solo album, G I R L, which has been a long time coming – it’s only the singer’s second solo album, and it’s been a hefty eight years in the making.
While that may seem like an absurdly long timespan in between albums, especially since so many of today’s artists seem intent on pushing out album after album as fast as their vocal cords and Auto-Tune can manage, G I R L was well worth the wait. The ten-track album is a fun and refreshingly organic compilation of songs in today’s electronic-laden music scene, resulting in one of the best pop albums in recent memory.
G I R L starts off with the unbelievably catchy “Marilyn Monroe,” a song that’s sure to become one of the album’s singles and further cement Pharrell’s status as a bonafide mega star. Starting off sounding more like a classical musical number with a swelling tune of violins, the song quickly transitions into an upbeat pop piece as Pharrell (and an uncredited Kelly Osbourne) sings about how he wants a “different girl,” and no others will do for him – not even Marilyn Monroe or Cleopatra.
The second song on the album is a collaborative work with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, the groovy, salsa-esque “Brand New.” One of many fun songs on the album that makes you want to move, “Brand New,” features a blend of maracas and tambourines, and when the voices of Pharrell and JT join in harmony during the chorus, it’s enough to make angels swoon.
“Brand New” is followed up by “Hunter,” another insanely catchy tune that will make you want to bust out the karaoke set – good luck hitting Pharrell’s notes on this song though. A much more eccentric song than the previous two on the album, Pharrell sings about hunting down a girl who he’s not going to let anyone have if he can’t; the lyrics are a strange mix of creepy (Taxidermy is on my walls // with the full description of the killin’ calls // I’m a hunter) to absurd (Duck Dynasty’s cool and all // but they got nothin’ on a female’s call), but it’s one of the most interesting songs on the album.
While all of the tracks on G I R L are memorable in their own right, one of the most unique is the Miley Cyrus collaboration “Come Get It Bae.” Though it seems like Cyrus’ voice would sound at odds with Pharrell’s-especially in a song where he sings so high-pitched- the combination manages to work, coming together with the background noises of clapping and exclamations of “Hey!” to create an interesting melody.
Other songs featured on Pharrell’s sophomore album include “Gust of Wind,” a slightly electronic song featuring backup vocals from Daft Punk; the tribal-influenced “Lost Queen,” featuring JoJo (oh, the irony here…); the Alicia Keys duet “Know Who You Are”; and, of course, the song on everyone’s lips, “Happy.”
In all, there are ten tracks on the album, and while some run a little longer than the average pop song these days – “Lost Queen” alone is nearly eight minutes long – G I R L manages to run a little over 45 minutes from start-to-finish. Though the short length may turn some off to buying the album, especially at a $10.99 average selling price, it’s the only real flaw in an otherwise stellar comeback for the one and only Pharrell Williams.
With a solid track list of catchy, upbeat, and just plain fun songs that make you want to tap your feet, let your hair down, and generally have a good time, G I R L is an album that’s easy to recommend to just about anyone. It’s well worth a second, third, fourth, and fifth (or more) listen, and is the perfect cure to chase away any reoccurring blues from random winter weather comebacks. If G I R L is any indicator of the state of music in 2014, this will be a year to make any pop fan happy.