Posted April 19, 2014
By ASHLEY McBRIDE
Pharrell’s “G I R L” is a collection of anthems and ballads praising women.
Although the producer has worked on countless tracks with other superstars like Beyoncé, Kanye West and Jay-Z, and collaborated with artists and been featured on songs with Snoop Dogg and Daft Punk, this is only Pharrell’s second solo album.
Pharrell’s first album, “In My Mind” was mediocre on the charts, reaching 48 in the U.S. in 2005 and Pharrell continued to work on other projects for the next nine years until now.
The tracks on “G I R L” combine pop vocals, Pharrell’s signature falsettos and string instrumentals notably composed by German music producer Hans Zimmer.
The artist described this album as an ode to women, to appreciate the women in his life for all they have sacrificed for him and to appreciate the female fans that make up a large and consistent part of his fan base.
With 10 songs running about 47 minutes, the album is relatively short, but a few of the songs are five minutes or longer. For example, “Marilyn Monroe,” the opening song that compares women to various women in history like the blonde bombshell of the title, Joan of Arc and Cleopatra, is five minutes and 52 seconds long.
While the majority of the songs on the album are an expression of his unfaltering admiration for women, a couple of them are plainly about sex, while a couple others are about Pharrell himself and how good of a catch he is.
The most popular song on the album thus far is “Happy,” the debut single from the album. Like one can gather from the song title, this catchy track is one to uplift your spirits and being positive regardless of your circumstances. This track was originally produced for “Despicable Me 2” a film for which Pharrell produced music as well as the first “Despicable Me.”
In fact, Pharrell also has a connection with the University of Miami Frost Band of the Hour through this music. The artist, with his producer hat on at the time, worked with the Band of the Hour for music for the opening title sequence of “Despicable Me 2.” This definitely brought some warranted attention to the Band of the Hour, which isn’t known for being particularly big or powerful in the college marching band scene.
Pharrell even created a 24-hour music video for the song, which can be found at 24hoursofhappy.com. At the site, the viewer will be taken to a certain part of the video, based on his or her local time. At the time of this article, the video had just more than eight million views.
The viewer can also choose different times of the day to view that portion of the video. The video consists of different people in different cities simply dancing and clapping in the street, in a store, in a bowling alley and in homes, and features regular people as well as celebrities like Magic Johnson, Jamie Foxx, Jimmy Kimmel and Steve Carrell, among others. Pharrell also performed this song at the Oscars and it was nominated for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards.
Although critics and fans alike have received that single very well, many people were disappointed and offended with the cover art for “G I R L.” The cover photo is of Pharrell and three women, simply dressed in white robes and sunglasses. Many people criticized the artist for his lack of black women on the cover, since Pharrell is a black artist and many of the women in his fan base are black.
One of the main arguments was that as a figurehead in an industry dominated by Eurocentric beauty ideals where white and lighter skin are seen as the more beautiful, Pharrell could have taken this opportunity to place a visibly black or dark-skinned woman on the cover, since with this work Pharrell did aim to express his adoration for all women.
Dark-skinned black women have very little visibility in Hollywood and the music industry compared to their lighter and white sisters, and Pharrell could have taken this moment to lend a little more visibility to them. However, he did address this controversy by admitting that there is a black woman on the cover, although she may not be visibly black, she is a black ex-girlfriend of his.
In addition to Pharrell’s vocals, the album has features from Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk and Jojo, with Jojo being featured on a hidden track.
The song “Freq” is listed as a part of the track list on some sites, but on iTunes and the official track list it is not there. On the CD, it is a part of “Lost Queen,” after an interlude the music changes from a song about a girl so perfect she must be from a foreign land, to a slower serenade, featuring harmonies from the artist Jojo.
Regardless of Pharrell’s choices for models on his cover, his second solo album will please fans who have been waiting on another album from the star producer and even those who are willing to give it a listen after feeling burned by his cover art. With its catchy hooks that are sure to get stuck on repeat in your head, “G I R L” will definitely be popular on the radio in the coming spring and summer months.
- Album title: “G I R L”
- Artists: Pharrell, featuring Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Daft Pink, Alicia Keys and Jojo
- Label: Columbia Records
- Release Date: March 3, 2014
- Special features: “Freq,” hidden track between “Lost Queen” and “Know Who You Are”
- Price: $10.99 on iTunes; $13.99 in stores
- Rating: 4/5 stars