By Brian Ives 

“You can’t talk about Pharrell‘s 2014 without talking about his 2013,” said Alan Light, music journalist and author of Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain, regarding the producer/singer’s GRAMMY nominated album, G I R L.

And it’s true: he came into this year riding high off of two of the biggest hits of 2013: Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines” (which he co-wrote and produced) and Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky” (which he sang guest vocals on); in fact, he performed both of those songs at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards on January 26, 2014. And he performed both of them in that hat.

G I R L itself really got a head start in 2013; not through those collaborations, but through “Happy,” which Pharrell wrote and recorded for last year’s Despicable Me 2. The song became something of a global event: there was a 24 hour-long, crowd-sourced video for the song, which led to a few Iranian fans getting arrested for dancing (they were later given a warning and didn’t have to serve jail time).

The album had a hard time matching the success of “Happy,” but came close with “Come and Get It Bae,” which helped bring the term “bae” to the mainstream. The video featured Pharrell sitting in a director’s chair with track partner Miley Cyrus, auditioning woman after woman after woman as they dance in front of him.

Entertainment Weekly‘s Leah Greenblatt notes, “Pharrell’s thing is, ‘I am a lover of ladies. All colors, all shapes, all sizes… all hot ones.”  And that led to some controversy about Pharrell and his message. As Buzzfeed’s Reggie Ugwu says, “The album is really about how much Pharrell loves women, which is not necessarily the same thing as valuing them independent of his romantic pursuits.”

The question that remains is, can he beat Beyoncé for Album of the Year? Although if she does win, he’ll get a trophy for that too: he produced portions of her game-changing self-titled album, Beyoncé.

 

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