Album: G I R L
However, not all attention he generated was positive. Other than becoming the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit for its similarity to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up’, the questionable lyrics and racy music video of ‘Blurred Lines’, his song with Thicke and T.I. which he co-wrote and produced, drew massive ire for being misogynistic and demeaning. It is the latter’s infamy that Pharrell tries to dissuade with his new album, G I R L.
His second studio effort, G I R L comes eight years after his debut solo disc, the tepid In My Mind. Designed to capitalize on his recent successes, the record offers more funky hip hop beats dressed up in rehashed retro sounds, which won’t come as a surprise to anyone after the success of ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Blurred Lines’.
Pharrell himself doesn’t have the strongest vocals, which is why a host of guest singers are on hand to help shape the set’s ten tracks. But this selection of pop stars could have been more interesting and varied; all of these big names seem like safe choices and don’t exactly signal an attempt at creating exciting, innovative collaborative projects. The most prominent appearances come from Justin Timberlake on the joyous ‘Brand New’, Miley Cyrus on the repetitive ‘Come Get It Bea’, and Alicia Keys on the reggae-tinged ‘Know Who You Are’. And Pharrell once again teams up with Daft Punk, this time on the standout ‘Gust of Wind’. Also included on the album is the annoyingly contagious Oscar nominated earworm ‘Happy’, which has already conquered the airwaves with its jaunty vibe and cameo-filled viral video.
G I R L is mostly fun and playful, and Pharrell succeeds in concocting some enjoyable pop, but there isn’t anything remarkably special about it. The first word you hear as the album begins (amidst lush strings courtesy of Hans Zimmer) is “different”, and that’s exactly what the record fails to be. G I R L simply tries to appeal to the same audience that was impressed by the music he produced last year, and this might be why some of the material seems overly familiar and repetitive. Also, while its attempt to be a celebration of women (to counter the denigration of ‘Blurred Lines’) is probably sincere, but that sentiment is sometimes undercut by the lyrics of songs like ‘Hunter’ and ‘Come Get It Bae’.
‘Happy’ is by far the sunniest moment on G I R L, and even though album opener ‘Marilyn Monroe’, the Daft Punk-aided ‘Gust of Wind’, and a handful of other tracks are catchy, nothing comes close to matching the exuberance of ‘Get Lucky’ or even the catchiness of the much maligned ‘Blurred Lines’. Ultimately, while a handful of the songs that make up G I R L may be instantly infectious, most of them are just as casually disposable.