Pharrell Williams finds ‘Happy’-ness with new G I R L
The highly anticipated new album by Pharrell Williams titled G I R L features the “international phenomenon and radio smash” ‘Happy,’ a song that first appeared on the Despicable Me 2 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. The certified platinum single has sold more than 2.3 million tracks worldwide, and has topped the charts in more than 175 countries. It currently generates at least 120 million weekly audience impressions across six radio formats including Top 40 (No. 10), Rhythmic (No. 7), Hot AC (No. 14), Urban (No. 14), Urban AC (No. 4), and Adult Contemporary (No. 18), according to Billboard.com. The groundbreaking singer-songwriter-producer also performed the Oscar-nominated song during the March 2 Academy Awards presentations.
‘Happy’ gives Williams his fourth No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100—unseating Katy Perry's ‘Dark Horse’ featuring Juicy J—but it represents the 40-year-old Virginia Beach, Va., artist’s first top spot as a soloist. His previous Hot 100 chart toppers include Snoop Dogg's ‘Drop It Like It's Hot’ (2004), Ludacris' ‘Money Maker’ (2006), and Robin Thicke's ‘Blurred Lines’ (2013). ‘Happy’ also marks Williams first Hot 100 No. 1 as a lead act in more than 12 years. Dr. Dre holds the distinction of having the longest interval between a lead act's first chart entry and first No. 1 hit. Dre took 15 years to go from 1993's No. 2 hit ‘Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang’ to 2009's ‘Crack a Bottle’ with Eminem and 50 Cent.
In addition to creating much of the music for the Despicable Me films, other recent successes include Williams’ production work on Gloria Estefan's Miss Little Havana, Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, and Frank Ocean's Grammy-winning Channel Orange. What’s more, a review posted on iTunes.com states that from June 2013 through December 2013, the Top 5 albums on the Billboard 200 featured 10 albums that involved work from Pharrell Williams.
Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines , Jay-Z’s Magna Carta ... Holy Grail, and Beyoncé’s self-titled release all benefited from Williams having a hand in the project. The output resulted in seven Grammy nominations and four wins including Producer of the Year and Album of the Year for Random Access Memories, which led to the single ‘Get Lucky’ taking Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Performance.
The iTunes review of G I R L labels ‘Happy’ a “carefree soul throwback” among the “upbeat, candy-coated pop-R&B that is relatively modern-sounding, laced with some elements of R&B from the mid- to late '60s and that sweet late-'70s to early-'80s spot.” Another highlight is ‘Gust of Wind,’ a midtempo, disco-funk collaboration with Daft Punk that is filled with “soaring strings” and one of Pharrell's “most effectively wistful/yearning turns.”
The album features a number of other guest artists such as Justin Timberlake, who shares vocals on the “sunny” ‘Brand New.’ Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, and JoJo round out the remaining guest spots on the tracks ‘Know Who You Are,’ ‘Come Get It Bae,’ and ‘Freq,’ respectively. Compared to his albums with N.E.R.D. and the In My Mind solo debut, iTunes considers G I R L to be Pharrell's “second most enjoyable album” behind the original version of In Search Of... (the 2001 N.E.R.D. debut album), calling the new release “fun, frivolous, and low on excess.”
Watch the official music video for ‘Happy,’ the new hit single off Pharrell Williams’ second release as a solo artist titled G I R L.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Pharrell Williams began his journey to “change the face of pop music” in 1992 when Teddy Riley tapped him to write a verse for Wreckx-n-Effect's ‘Rump Shaker.’ Williams and longtime friend Chad Hugo formed the Neptunes in the late 1990s and began scoring songwriting and production assignments for artists such as Britney Spears (‘I'm a Slave 4 U’) and Babyface (‘There She Goes’).
* Williams stepped to the forefront as a vocalist in 2003 with the release of ‘Frontin'’ featuring a guest verse from Jay-Z. The song also helped to promote the Neptunes’ Present... Clones compilation of all-new tracks from artists produced by the duo.
* In 2001, Williams, Hugo, and Shae Haley created the alt-rock/hip-hop group N.E.R.D.—an acronym of No One Ever Really Dies—as a Neptunes side project. The group has released four albums to date, including 2010’s Nothing.
* Pharrell Williams' first solo album, In My Mind, was issued in July 2006. Despite the album getting mixed reviews, it debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 140,000 copies in its first week. Williams devoted the next eight years to the Neptunes, N.E.R.D., and high-profile collaborations with artists including Madonna, Britney Spears, Jay-Z, and Solange.
* A venture called i am OTHER is a “multi-media creative collective” that celebrates creative people in global culture, music, fashion, and the arts while serving as an umbrella for Williams’ other endeavors including Billionaire Boys Club & ICECREAM apparel, his Bionic Yarn textile company, and the Pharrell Williams YouTube channel.
* Williams is auctioning off the over-sized Vivienne Westwood-designed hat he wore at the 2014 Grammy Award presentations. Proceeds from the auction benefit From One Hand to Another—Williams' educational non-profit organization committed to “bringing kids experiences that ignite their passions, challenge their minds and prepare them for success.”