Even if you have not heard of his name, you would probably have heard his compositions, which has shaped 2013's greatest hits, Get Lucky (Daft Punk) and Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke). That's right, I'm talking about the man with the giant hat, Pharrell Williams, and his second album G I R L.
Having saturated the airwaves with the deliriously infectious Happy, a track off the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, it seems Pharrell has found a way to the peak of the masses after a 20 year long career that has seen a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs. Part of the production duo The Neptunes, who have created many a hit behind-the-production-scenes for some of the millenial popstars, Williams has also dabbled in N.E.R.D with his Neptunes partner Chad Hugo, to little fanfare if you compare it by today's standards.
Still, the evolution of taking dirty, Southern beats in his hip-hop productions a decade ago, to the much slicker, smoother and funky R&B compositions in G I R L is apparent, and it seems taking things mellow is what fits Pharrell best, although it may come across as vacuous to some, especially lyrically.
In his so-called tribute to women, the album is a light-hearted, good-dude sentiment to the demographic. I personally like the opener Marilyn Monroe, which was a fun, smooth number to introduce the whole concept of the album, in a surprisingly non-degrading way. Of course, he's not exactly the best singer in the world, coming off as pitchy and a little tone-deaf when singing live, but you can't deny the man knows how to make people groove to the emotions that music brings. Just take Happy for instance, if you are not dancing or feeling a little bit lifted by the end of the song, you're just a rock, seriously. The song is the epitome of the word, and never once does it make you feel like you're alone in this case.
Lost Queen is a doo-wop wonder plastered over a South African Lion King sonicscape, as he calmly and matter-of-factly sings of a love that sounds almost supernatural, "What planet are you from, girl? And are there others like you there? And could you do that magic trick again? Poppin' up from nowhere". It almost feels out of this world, with the unlikely pairing. There is evidence of dabbling speckled throughout the album, although with not much wow attached to it.
The funkiness that spiralled Blurred Lines to fame is somewhat found in the eighties' R&B inspired Come Get It Bae, featuring It-Girl Miley Cyrus. Over enthusiastic hand-claps and Pharrell's airy falsetto and harmonisations, it's just a come-hither call with the ease of a seasoned predator that paints a picture all rosy and innocent. Brilliant. That's how girls let their hair down sometimes eh?
Track Cuts: Lost Queen, Come Get It Bae, Marilyn Monroe, Happy