Photo Courtesy of iTunes
It has been almost eight years since Pharrell released his debut album, “In My Mind.” But he has kept himself busy working on fellow artists’ projects, including last year’s biggest hits, “Blurred Lines” featuring Robin Thicke and “Get Lucky” featuring Daft Punk. Both songs competed in the category as Best Pop Duo/Group Performance of this year’s Grammy Awards. “Get Lucky” took the prize.
In June 2013, Pharrell made headlines again when he dropped the Academy Award nominated soundtrack for the sequel to “Despicable Me,” which includes his current number one song, “Happy.” The sleeper-hit became such a huge success that it was picked to be the lead single of his new solo album, “G I R L” (also referenced as “Girl”). After amassing praises for his collaborations, he is proving that he is more than ready to dominate the charts as a solo artist.
The 10-track album carries the typical “Pharrell” sound — 70s and 80s influence with inventive funky bass lines and energetic beats. His style can easily be recognized on the up-tempo dance songs “It Girl,” “Hunter,” “Gush,” and of course, “Happy.” Even though these will put you in a good mood (and are incredibly well written and produced), they certainly represent the biggest weakness of the album, which is the lack of musical versatility.
Luckily, most listeners and fans will not pay attention to that imperfection because the focus will be on the album’s amazing collaborations. “You want to ride my motorcycle?” the singer asks Miley Cyrus on “Come Get It Bae,” as they flirt during the song singing sexy lyrics. The pair, who had previously worked together on Cyrus’s “Bangerz,” clearly has a future hit on their hands.
The seven-time Grammy Award winner also brings along Justin Timberlake on “Brand New,” Daft Punk on “Gust of Wind” and Alicia Keys on “Know Who You Are.” The most remarkable of those has to be the reggae-influenced “Know Who You Are.” Its feminist lyrics naturally flow and show the connection between the performers while its catchy and relaxing sound is a big contender for radio.
The major standout moments come from “Lost Queen” and “Marilyn Monroe.” “Lost Queen” opens with distinguished humming and African/tribal beats and is accompanied with a bubble-gum pop melody that recalls “Countdown” by Beyonce. Yet in the middle of the eight-minute track, it changes course and transforms itself into a mid-tempo R&B; song that features vocals from Jojo.
“Marilyn Monroe,” on the other hand, is the darkest piece of “G I R L.” Its orchestral introduction ends with the beginning of the bass lines and falsettos. He sings through the feminist inspired verses about his ideal woman, while referencing historical, powerful female figures such as Cleopatra, Joan of Arc and of course, Marilyn Monroe. With a memorable chorus, it is not surprising that the song, which has Kelly Osbourne as a background singer, was chosen as the second single of the album.
Even though it is not a perfect record, it is unique and brings a different perception of what is ‘cool’ to pop music. Not to mention that it was entirely produced and written by Pharrell — a rare case in the music scene. Deservedly, people are giving a chance to his solo project, as “G I R L” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard chart and No. 1 in the UK.
Follow Germano Berca on Twitter: @germanobb