Like the legend of the phoenix, Pharrell Williams’ career has re-risen bigger and brighter than ever before. Pharrell Williams’ single, “Happy,” for the movie Despicable Me 2 was released four months ago and is happily sitting at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100. Currently, the video has 150 million-plus views on Youtube, and there is no slowing down this train.
A former member of the pop group N*E*R*D (Nobody Ever Really Dies), Pharrell disappeared from the spotlight for a while. Last year, he demonstrated the kind of star power he had and forced us to pay attention. 2013 was Pharrell’s year as he delivered three smash-hit wonders: “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky,” and “Happy.” “Blurred Lines,” despite its criticism for being misogynistic, became the number two song of 2013, behind “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. It currently has nearly 300 million views. “Get Lucky,” a collaboration with Daft Punk, has more than 170 million views and won Pharrell two Grammys, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Record of the Year.
Does this song deserve its crown? The best answer is…maybe. The song itself is very upbeat. When a song begins with “Sunshine is here, you can take a break,” the listener knows exactly what they are in for. The song is about Pharrell being happy because…he is. The lyrics are incredibly vague when it comes to explaining where Pharrell’s source of incomprehensible joy comes from. Is he in love? Did he win the lottery? Did he find his long lost father? It is anybody’s guess at this point. Some of the lyrics are very ambiguous as well. For example, “come along if you feel like a room without a roof”…so, useless against the rain? This lyric is supposed to signify a strange metaphor for uncompromising ecstasy. The biggest problem with the song is the lyrics. Songs are like any other form of storytelling, there needs to be a story to tell. A movie needs to show why a character is feeling what they are feeling. They are happy because they got married, or they are bitter because they lost their job. Cause and effect. For some reason, music can get away with evoking emotion (effect) without explaining why (cause).
Not to say this is a bad song. Quite the opposite. The song does exactly what it sets out to do. It wants to make the listener jump up and down, dance around and enjoy life in general. Can anybody listen to this song and not get butterflies in their tummies and want to sweat away their troubles? Can it get repetitive? A little, especially if you listen to the 24-hour video. That is not a joke; there is a 24-hour video for this song.
Speaking of the video (the four-minute one), it is one of the most lighthearted videos ever made. The song consists of people, and to the video’s credit, they are of all sizes, genders, ages and race. What are they doing? Dancing, of course! Not the highest concept video of all time, but there is something to admire about watching people from all walks of life enjoying themselves, not because of money, beauty, fame, or power, but because they are alive. The video also includes celebrities such as Magic Johnson and Jimmy Kimmel. Steve Carrell and the yellow Minions show up to remind you that this song is for Despicable Me 2.
Back to the original question: does this song deserve its crown? Maybe it does. This song has been out for four months, and other songs have come and gone, like Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” and even though some may have knocked it down for a while, it got right back up. It is rare to see a song make the number one spot on the Billboard 100 that does not involve shameless self-promotion, degrading others, or any mention of empty materialistic gain.
Opinion By Ignacio Gatti