Why We Love Pharrell’s New Album ‘G I R L’ | A Track by Track Review

Pharrell Williams

G I R L is Pharrell’s first solo album since the release of In My Mind in 2006.  The album features appearances by the one and only Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, the robotic genius of Daft Punk, and the lovely Alicia Keys. Last week, a 30-second trailer  was released to give slight insight on what the album would be about. The video soundtrack was of a string quartet with snippets of Pharrell himself dancing around the studio, working closely and energetically with the conductor of the orchestra and various producers. The video ended with a close up on Pharrell shedding a single tear.

What else do we know about the album before taking a listen to the tracks? The title G I R L has an air of mystery around it—especially considering the work Pharrell has done this past year with Robin Thicke. But despite the feminist backlash against the artist’s work on Blurred Lines, Pharrell comes at us confidently with a statement he felt adequately captures his intention for his new album: “The reason why I named it G I R L in capital letters is because when you look at it, it looks a little weird,” he said. “And the reason why it does is because society is a little unbalanced. Women have been so good to me over this entire career and they’ve done so much for my family. Everything I’ve ever gotten is because they’ve paid for [it], so they’re, like, my bosses — indirectly and directly — you guys are like my bosses. So for me, I wanted to analyze that for a second.”

And that he did. Every song on G I R L has a different personality, something which rarely happens over the course of a single hip-hop/R&B album. Pharrell continues to redefine what does into “popular music”. Rather than relying on heavy EDM beats to carry his tracks and give them shape, Pharrell is regressing back to orchestral sounds, 70s funk, and soul music—you’ll even hear beats reminiscent of The Jackson 5 and The Bee Gee’s. Above all, you’ll hear Pharrell doing what he loves, and having a good time doing it. And he just happens to be very, very good at it. In addition to releasing a new album, Pharrell is currently  on tour with Bruno Mars. If this album doesn’t convince you to buy Pharrell tickets now, I don’t know what will.

Here is a track by track breakdown of Pharrell’s G I R L. Sure, we have a few good things to say. But nothing beats listening for yourself. And don’t take it lightly when I say this album makes you want to dance. Get up, and dance.

  1. “Marilyn Monroe” begins with a pizzicato orchestra intro, something so quick and lovely, it’s almost as if a movie is about to begin. The song continues with strange instruments interrupting the chorus and a funk beat connecting the quiet space in between verses. Lyrically, Pharrell is simply swooning. And we’re hooked, we’re listening. “So let’s all dance and elevate each other”.
  2. “Brand New” has an intro reminiscent of 70s funk music, plus the sweet and smooth vocals of Justin Timberlake. The song is about love, how is makes you “brand new”, and just how simple life is. What’s not to like? Listen to this when you’re in need of a happy dance, a song to soundtrack all good feelings.
  3. “Hunter” is immediately a throwback—we don’t know if we’re still listening to G I R L or some old Bee Gee’s album. But isn’t the impulse to do weird dance moves under a disco ball a wonderful thing? Lyrically, Pharrell has us a little frightened. But even though he compares chasing a girl to the act of preying on an animal, we are too distracted by this beat to care.
  4. “Gush”, in our opinion, is the closest thing to raunchy on the whole album. Lyrics aside, the beat is downright groovy. Pharrell gets away with it like JT did on tracks like “Senorita” and “Pusher love girl”. And even though he wants to “get dirty, girl”, we forgive him because that orchestral interlude is straight up beautiful. You did it Pharrell, we’re gushing.
  5. “Happy” is a track we’ve been hearing for awhile now since it’s been nominated for a Grammy award, as well as being featured in the animated film “Despicable Me 2”. As for how much we love the song, “Happy” doesn’t give us much of a choice but to smile and clap along. Because yes, that’s exactly what this song makes you want to do.
  6. “Come Get It Bae” feat. Miley Cyrus may become the new song everyone starts guiltily dancing to when they hear it. The two pair well together, having been partners in collaboration in the past (namely Miley’s album Bangerz). The guitar strumming aspect of the song sets it apart from the rest of the album, and although it’s not the most interesting song on G I R L, we can’t help but join in on the chorus.
  7. “Gust of Wind” begins with a beat we can immediately recognize to be influenced by the electronic music masters Daft Punk. Pharrell teams this with the orchestra, making this song interesting from the start. Daft Punk’s robotic voices come in, dropping a line that is simple, and perfect: “Like a gust of wind, you hit me off sometimes”. This track is so solid it could easily be on Random Access Memories—but are we really surprised? Only greatness has risen from Pharrell and Daft Punk collaborations. Commence in thanking the music gods for allowing such a thing to happen.
  8. “Lost Queen” brings us an entirely different set of sounds. With African-style drum beats and tribal hymns in the background, Pharrell spins this devotional song in a way that was completely unpredictable in the context of the rest of the album. Lyrically, this song captures the essence of the album. Pharrell sings “I think you are a lost queen, let me serve you, serve you”. Don’t worry Pharrell, with a song as sweet as this one, you’re likely to be on every woman’s good side.
  9. “Know Who You Are” is the ideal anthem to follow “Lost Queen”. The theme of empowering women continues with the angelic vocals brought by the queen of R&B herself, the one and only Alicia Keys. If there ever was a match made in heaven, it would be Pharrell and Alicia Keys on this track. It’s simply delightful.
  10.  “It Girl” is the best track to bookend an album Pharrell has made primarily about women, combining both the new and old aspects of his musical styling. In our opinion the song isn’t the strongest of the album, but it satisfies us nonetheless. By the end you aren’t thinking so much about the song, but of what Pharrell is trying to get through to us: there’s a way to talk about women without being raunchy, and it doesn’t take much to make you want to dance.

G I R L is currently only available via iTunes, and is set to be released March 3rd. If you can, start listening to it now. You’ll just start falling in love with it before everyone else does.

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