Breaking Down Pharrells G I R L

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I decided to give myself a little more than 24 hours to fully process G I R L before reviewing it. I did that to ensure that I’d write a fair review because I assumed I’d immediately fall in love with it. That would’ve lead to a stan review. To my surprise, I didn’t fall in love on first listen.

I was a little confused, a little disappointed, and pretty tired because Adele Dazeem and The Oscars kept me up so late the night before.

But then I realized something, I haven’t loved any of my favorite albums on first listen. All of them made me think and left me with a weird feeling. It’s because I didn’t understand how good they were. Each showed me something new and went against the grain. Often times the albums that I fall in love with on first listen fade away from my ipod quickly.

Take Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience for example. I loved the album on first listen, was obsessed for a week, then it died out. G I R L is not a flash in the pan; it takes a few listens to really understand and love it. And once you do you won’t look back.

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G I R L is a groovy album, filled with falsettos, horns, surprise duets, and one liners. By no means is it a perfect album, but it’s a fun one. It’s sound very in line with everything Pharrells done the past year, but offers a few surprises too.

There are still hints of his older music, most explicitly in ‘Gush’. It sound very early 2000’s. Traces of his work on Justified are heard on ‘Brand New’ and so are his signature high notes. Aside from that, the album is very 70’s funktastic.  I said before that the biggest challenge for Pharrell was proving his solo power with G I R L, not rely on his production power.

Spoiler: He does.

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This is an album about women, and Pharrells love for them. Included in that are feminist ideas that are weaved throughout the album, most notably in ‘Know Who You Are’ and ‘It Girl’. Pharrell acknowledges the strength of a woman, their right to choose, and the respect he must give them. For these reasons alone the album sets itself apart from modern male R&B.

The album kicks off with ‘Marilyn Monroe’, a dramatic introduction into a easy going album. Pharrell opts for some obscure melodies on G I R L with ‘Marilyn Monroe’ being the perfect example. He’s not running with the hooks that made ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Happy’ so successful, and the album betters from it.

‘Lost Queen’ is another song that benefits from the quirkiness of Pharrell’s mind. It’s like an adult nursery rhyme with a Geico reference. Also riddled with a few “vrooms“.

All of the lyrical references show that Pharrell is the king of cool. He hasn’t lost any of the weirdness that he showed in N.E.R.D. “Duck Dynasty is cool and all/But nothing compares to the female call” he jests on ‘Hunter’; forever pronounced as Huntah.

Musician Williams attends "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles" in Los Angeles

All of the albums collaborations feel natural. No one is on the album to draw any attention away. Justin Timberlake does his job perfectly on ‘Brand New’ (a.k.a the falsetto battle). Now that ‘Girl on Fire’ is a dead thing, I think we’re ready to forgive Alicia Keys. She sounds beautiful on ‘Know Who You Are’ which leaves all of her screaming vocals at home with Swizz.

There are three uncredited vocals belonging to Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus and JoJo on ‘Gust of Wind’, ‘Come Get it Bae’, and ‘Freq’ respectively.

Let’s take a second to talk about ‘Freq’, the albums hidden track behind ‘Lost Queen’. Aside from being a little freqky, it’s all types of amazing. JoJo and Pharrell are killing it, serving some Prince realness here. ‘Freq’ may be the most simple song on the album, but it’s probably the smoothest.

“I’d rather be a freq, that not be unique”

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I can’t shade Miley though because she did her thing on ‘Come Get it Bae’. The song is a thousands times better than their Bangerz collaboration ‘Get it Right’. There’s no forced vocals or quivering vabratto. She let’s the beat lead and graciously follows. Get it, Bae.

The albums best moment is easily ‘Gust Of Wind’.

Can’t. Control. All. Of. The. Phunk.

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The strings. The Daft-Punk cameo in the chorus. Everything is perfect. This is also Pharrell’s strongest vocal performance on the album. Imagine the two step you could do to this….

Overall G I R L is one of the most fun albums I’ve heard in a while. A little variety wouldn’t have hurt, but judging from all of his collaborations this is clearly he creative state of mind at the moment. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Still, I would have loved to see a little more variety sound. If anyone could pull it off its him.

So a few listens deep I can say that I love G I R L. I’ve being seeing a lot of mixed reactions, and they all make sense. It’s a weird album, but it’s a weird thats worth giving a shot.

Now please excuse me while I soul train to ‘Gust of Wind’ down broadway.

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What do you think of G I R L?

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