His work on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories resulted in a storm of shiny accolades including four Grammys. The second track, 'Blurred Lines', however, found the artist defending a contentious song that had been banned by several university student unions and declared as one of the most controversial songs of the decade.
The subject of 'Blurred Lines' remains debated, but with lyrics such as “I'll give you something big enough to tear your arse in two,” Robin Thicke and Pharrell became the target of fuming feminists worldwide, many declaring the track as anything but pro-women. The latter claim stands in contradiction to Pharrell’s first solo studio album in eight years; one which he says is devoted to the fairer sex.
“When Columbia Records presented me with the opportunity to make an album…I instantly knew it would be called G I R L,” Pharrell explains. Further stating that “women are the cornerstone” of his existence, the spaces between the album title in capital letters represent that “there’s an imbalance in society about the way we treat women”.
Framing your first album in a near decade as a female-centric record off the back of your involvement with the biggest song of 2013, which was also labelled as exceedingly sexist, is no easy feat. However, with an impressive combination of collaborators including Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and BFFs Daft Punk, coupled with a contagiously euphoric Oscar-nominated hit, stands for the best possible antidote to any lingering hate.
Happy is indeed the highlight track. There is something to be said about music that serves as an instant pick-me-up. The Motown laden song is brilliant in its use of ethereal gospel harmonies and groovy (there is no other word) beat. Topped with Pharrell’s signature falsetto voice, there are many reasons why this song has been embraced worldwide and why he was invited to perform it at the Oscars.
'Gust of Wind' and 'Gush' follow closely. The former relies on ‘70s funk bass lines woven under rich and deep staccato string sections. Invoking an aesthetic palette similar to 'Beyond' from Random Access Memories, it's an appropriate track to reunite with Daft Punk. With lush orchestrations, 'Gush' is a hedonistic song with neo-soul and funk influences. It has to be noted that Pharrell is the ONLY person who can get away with the lyrics, “make the pussy just gush”.