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Pharrell's 'Girl' left me unhappy

By Scott E Hall
On March 31, 2014

Clap your hands if you feel like a room without a roof. For everybody else, keep reading.

2013 was a golden year for Pharrell Williams. He played an important role in some truly great hip-hop and R&B songs, including vocals on the radio-conquering tracks “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines.” He’s also provided some talented production for Schoolboy Q and Earl Sweatshirt. He even made a song for a generic Hollywood animated sequel film and it’s currently one of the most popular songs in the world, accompanied with its own 24-hour music video. Having been a fan of Pharrell’s most recent work, I came into this album with expectations.

“Girl” is a collection of unimpressive songs that reveal Pharrell’s songwriting weaknesses. I recognize how much potential and talent this guy has, and this album is a disappointing representation of his work. These songs are fun, humorous and positive, yet they are lyrically impersonal and musically uneventful. It’s like Pharrell decided to release an album just for kicks and giggles. In response, I will kick and giggle at it.

Sometimes artists strike gold when they have fun with their lyrics — for example, “What rhymes with hug me?” — but Pharrell’s attempts here are simply unappealing. People may question how one can tell if a song is “personal” or not. I will show you how with commentary on some ridiculous lyrics found on this album. “When I open the window I wanna hug you, ’cause you remind of the air.” Good analogy, bruh. Do you come in like a wrecking ball while you’re at it? “Let me serve you hot sex and gold, shiny things. I think you are a lost queen.” The girl sitting next to me just laughed so hard from reading that, milk came out her nose. “‘Duck Dynasty’s’ cool and all, but they got nothin’ on a woman’s call.” I’m sorry sir, this is a studio. The third grade poetry contest is down the hall.

The music may be uneventful, but it’s enough to make people dance, which is why “Girl” is currently one of the most popular albums in the world. The production is just so thin and sounds like mere mediocre work was put into it. This album also breaks music critic Anthony Fantano’s R&B golden rule: “If you got no bass, you got no case.” “Girl” has no case.

I feel like I’d have to be some heartless jerk not to like “Happy.” This song is entertaining and radio-worthy in my book. Lots of people are out there making the same kind of positive R&B grooves, but this song lives up to its title. It’s easily the best track on the album. The collaborations on here; Justin Timberlake on “Brand New” and Alicia Keys on “Know Who You Are” are album highlights.

I appreciate Pharrell’s attempts to sound ambitious on here, although the results can sound weak. “Lost Queen” has some African rhythms and has two different songs contained within its eight-minute length. It’s not a bad track, but it isn’t enjoyable in its entirety. “Marilyn Monroe” has some fun hints of early Michael Jackson melodies, but it lacks a true soul. That definition of “Marilyn Monroe” basically sums up “Girl”: A guy trying to make throwback music while singing generic emotional cliches in a falsetto voice. Pharrell is seen wearing a robe and a pair of aviators on the album cover. A clear sign of his lazy approach to this album. Please do yourselves a favor and hear the new War on Drugs album “Lost in the Dream.” Stay happy.

MY RATING: 4/10

Scott Hall is a newcomer to the world of journalism. He is studying public relations and stage management at USU. His spare time is dedicated to music. For more, email scottehall3@gmail.com

By Scott E

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