Turn on any music video channel, radio station or music reviewing website (hi!) these past few months and you'll have found it almost impossible not to see the baby-faced looks and slightly high-pitched tones of one Pharrell Williams. Part of production duo The Neptunes and rock/hip-hop group N.E.R.D., the now 40-year old Williams has found himself to be the most sought after producer and feature artist of the year.
There was a time back in the early-00s when you couldn't escape the disco-tetris sounds of The Neptunes productions – Britney's "I'm A Slave 4 U", Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot", Kelis' "Milkshake", Justin Timberlake's "Like I Love You", Nelly's "Hot In Herre", Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl", N.E.R.D.'s "She Wants To Move" to name but a few – but this latest standalone resurgence puts even that string of hits to shame.
The following are just five of the multitude of songs that Pharrell has had a hand in in the year so far. Some of these you will know all too well, and some you may not know yet, but trust us, you will.
Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers - 'Get Lucky'
As featured artist and co-writer of the first single from Daft Punk's latest album, this went all to break all kind of single-selling records and Spotify plays, and with good reason. If you haven't heard this old-school funky disco jam playing over the countless adverts on radio and television lately, not to mention the actual amount of plays the song itself has received, then you must have heard it as the choice of every DJ in every nightclub worldwide as their end-of-night song.
Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell Williams - 'Blurred Lines'
Co-writer, featured artist and sole producer on this worldwide #1 hit, Blurred Lines was probably the world's proper introduction to Robin Thicke, even though this is the first single from his SIXTH album, and has actually worked with Pharrell before. But the mix of the risqué, hashtag friendly video and Marvin Gaye-inspired beat is the real driving force behind its popularity.
Pharrell Williams - 'Happy'
Proving that he's not just here to provide the talent on other people's song, Pharrell produced the entire soundtrack to Despicable Me 2, including this incredibly uplifting and clap-along tune. Plus, now that the movie has turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the year so far, you can expect a load of kids to demand that the OST be purchased for them immediately.
Jay-Z ft. Nas, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Swiss Beatz, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland - 'BBC'
One of the more accessible songs on Jay-Z's just released Magna Carta Holy Grail album, Pharrell co-produced this song with fellow 2013 hit-machine Timbaland (Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie", Beyonce's "Grown Woman"), and should see dancefloors flooding up if it ever gets released as a fully blown single. The fact that it also features vocals by yet ANOTHER hip-hop super-producer Swizz Beatz (Busta Rhymes' "Touch It", Beyonce's "Upgrade U") as well as Justin Timberlake and Beyonce just goes to show the pulling power that Pharrell possesses.
Azealia Banks ft. Pharrell Williams - 'ATM Jam'
The above is a radio-rip of a shortened and cleaned up version of Azealia's latest single, but you can still hear the absolute earworm that it will be once its released in all of its glory. Pharrell teamed up with this year's most talked about new hip-hop star (sorry Macklemore) to create something very left of centre, based on a beat that seems mostly composed of a looped and warped Vincent Price laugh, prepare to hear A LOT of this over the next few weeks and months.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Pharrell this year. The next six months should see songs his worked on by the likes of Kelly Rowland, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Kylie Minogue, Busta Rhymes, Nelly and Chris Brown. So settle in folks, cos we're in for a long year of booty shaking.
Words: Rory Cashin