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Pharrell Williams Tells Carson Daly He’s Humbled By “Happy” Solo Success

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(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Moncler)

(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Moncler)

Carson Carson Daly
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Don’t call it a comeback, but Pharrell Williams has a lot of reasons to be “Happy” these days.

His hit single topped the charts this week on Billboard’s Hot 100, he’ll be performing at the Oscars this weekend as one of the Best Original Song nominees, and his first solo album in eight years drops on Tuesday.

Williams called into Mornings with Carson Daly to talk about his recent success, that crazy GRAMMY hat, and predictions for Oscar Sunday:

On his recent success with Daft Punk and his solo career…

I don’t know exactly how to…quantify this moment because I’ve never seen this height, you know? … It’s even crazier to me that it’s the people who did this. Like, none of this is my doing. You can’t basically vote yourself into a GRAMMY category or an Academy Award category. You can’t do that. You have to do the work, but then there has to be people who want to rally behind your work…

…And you look at like just what it’s become amongst pop culture: the people voting for the song, “Happy,” requesting it or sharing it, downloading, and in many cases, uploading. Come on, man. That’s like incredibly overwhelming and humbling. I just never expected in a million years for this to happen.

On his solo album G  I  R  L…

It’s really, honestly, an ode to women. It’s the album that I’ve always wanted to make, like the full spectrum. Because I feel like people see the one side of me, which is they see some of the subliminal and sometimes outwardly perverse, slick things that I would say sometimes about her eyes or her lips or her body or her curves or “ooh, sweat, sweat, sweat.” People know that side, but I felt like there’s a whole other side to the spectrum that I wanted people to know. My affinity for women goes deep and my appreciation for them is probably even deeper…

…There are some social imbalances, like women don’t get paid as much as men. Or like the idea that in 2014, you know, while we have had a space station up in space for over 20 years, I believe, and we actually have a rover roving around on the surface of Mars, okay? We, on this planet, are still trying to tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. It’s just a crazy, crazy social imbalance. The funny thing is, no man can make a child. We can contribute to them, but we don’t give birth and nor do we make eggs. It’s just very lopsided out in the ether.

I just felt like I wanted to do something on my album that sort of spoke from, like I said, the expectant side that they know of me and the other side where there’s some deeper core beliefs and that’s why I named the album G  I  R  L in capital letters with two spaces between each letter because I realized that society has an unbalance, so let’s capitalize those letters and let’s spread them out so that they stand big and iconic when you read them. There’s something in that meaning. And by the way, it’s not preachy.

It doesn’t sound like “Happy.” In one of the songs, they’re totally related in that way, but what they all have in common is my intention, which was to make something that felt festive, celebratory, visceral, and urgent. And should you want some, yes, there is some medicine in the songs. It’s in the groove, but it’s not overly preachy.

On his prediction for the Best Picture Oscar winner:

It could be [Dallas Buyer’s Club], could be Gravity, and I don’t know, man. I think Wolf of Wall Street could sneak out of nowhere too. But I think I want to say Dallas Buyer’s Club and Gravity…could be 12 Years [A Slave] too.

On how many Vivienne Westwood GRAMMY hats he owns:

Um, I have a couple of them.

G  I  R  L goes on sale Tuesday, March 3, but you can stream the entire album right now on iTunes.


-Sarah Carroll, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles

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