Has anyone not heard Get Lucky? (there is more than one song called Get Lucky, I am a particular fan of the one by New Young Pony Club, but I think you know which one I am talking about).
Get Lucky by Daft Punk, co-written by Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers and featuring Pharrell on vocals and Rodgers on rhythm guitar, is ridiculously popular, fast. It broke records with the highest number of plays of any song in a single day on music streaming app Spotify. It is likely to remain at no 1 in the UK charts for the 4th week on Sunday, and it is doing the same thing all over the world. The song is everywhere: being blasted out of cars, being shared on social media sites, being dissected in the papers, and even being discussed by actual real people. People seem to sidle over to me to discuss it. Is it just me, or is it happening to everyone? It is only going to get worse when the Daft Punk album Random Access Memories is released on Monday, with its roster of ‘special guests’ including Julian Casablancas and Giorgio Moroder. Everywhere I turn I bump into another person (with a different taste in music) who absolutely loves this song and at a party this weekend it was the song which first got everybody up onto the dancefloor. Whilst it was playing (twice), all I could hear ringing around me was the jubilant cry of ‘I love this song!’. Frankly, people cannot get enough of it.
OK, so a successful collaboration of the French electronic band, Daft Punk, with Pharrell Williams doing his thang on vocals and the legendary Niles Rodgers on guitar should not be a huge surprise in some ways. To me I was just surprised at what it sounded like. I was oblivious to the hype and the ‘teaser’ adverts which had been shown at Coachella Festival (read more in Rolling Stone article if you are interested). I first saw a tweet by Pharrell about a month ago, which piqued my interest:
When I heard the song on the radio soon after and recognised his voice, I was surprised that a song under the name of Daft Punk would sound like feel-good funk from the 70s, rather than the dancey electronic beats we are all used to. I didn’t realise then that Nile Rodgers was involved but, once you know it, you can hear it. From then on I heard it (and the song) everywhere.
The thing is, as well as sounding retro, it is also so instantly catchy that it feels like you know it the first time you hear it. This is not necessarily a good thing as it might be the reason it grows old quickly, too (especially with the air play already turning to overkill). Yes, it does already start to grate with its repetitive and slightly dubious lyrics, but hearing it up loud this weekend, the groove still sounded good.
There is no denying that, at this particular moment, it is THE song that people are talking about.
Of course before this happened I was a fan of Pharrell for all sorts of other reasons, mainly for his versatility as producer/writer/vocalist (and partly because he ain’t bad looking, yes you might as well have the truth). Plus, I do love a man who’s not afraid to sing falsetto. But more of Prince another day.
I properly became aware of Pharrell when he was producing for Justin Timberlake (another not-so-secret long term crush of mine – but more about Justin Timberlake another day – or just scroll down a bit if you can’t wait for another day). I soon realised that Pharrell had been involved in lots of songs I loved going back 20 years. Once you know, you will keep hearing that vocal again and again, and if like me you find you like the Neptunes sound, that might explain why you like some of the songs below too.
You see, my conclusion is that Pharrell provides the magic link between the new school Daft Punk type of funk and the old school Nile Rodgers type of funk. With both his production skillz and his easy vocals, Pharrell marries the two together and that’s why with Get Lucky you end up with a hit that appeals to all sorts of people. Well, until the repetitive lyrics get you down. When that happens, why not take a listen to my Pharrell highlights below.
1992 As co-founder of The Neptunes with childhood friend Chad Hugo, produced this for SWV and did the rap ‘S the double the U the V!’
1992 Produced and wrote Teddy Riley’s rap on Wreckx-n-Effect’s multi-platinum Shake your Rump but I will spare you the video as there’s only so much booty shaking that is fitting on the demure site that is hattydaze.
1999 Produced this for the wonderful Kelis
2001 Founded N.E.R.D (Nobody Ever Really Dies) with Chad Hugo and mixed up rock, funk and rap (if you ask me to varying effect, and it certainly works less often than when producing for other people, but I do still love some of it)
2002 Produced this tuuuune for the bandaged Nelly who’s no great speller
2002 To award-winning and mega-commercial effect, produced, arranged instrumentation and appeared on Justin’s first solo album Justified (you rumbled me, this post is all about posting this video). But more about Justin another day. Listen and look carefully and you will see and hear Pharrell throughout the album and in the videos. I looked very carefully.
2003 Went to Brazil, rapped and picked up girls with Snoop Dogg
2010 Remixed and featured on Mark Ronson’s song Record Collection
2010 Composed and performed on Despicable Me soundtrack (sequel out soon – yesssss!). This is my favourite ‘rollercoaster’ scene (and song).
And last month…
Don’t you love the video? Maybe you weren’t still paying attention around 2 mins 20 sec. Go on, go back and have a look.
Now I am going to sit back and see what happens to this song, and also what happens to Pharrell’s career. Will the repetitive lyrics or air play burn it out, or will it really be the hit song of the year? Does getting lucky mean having an emotional spark with someone, as Pharrell apparently said, or is this basically another song about getting laid? Is this the beginning of superstardom for Pharrell, or will he manage to keep it a bit ‘real’? Lastly, I would love to know if anyone else harbours a secret crush for Pharrell or his back catalogue. It’s probably just me.