Winter is a busy time for the entertainment industry. With new movies and albums coming out left and right and awards season kicking off, there is a lot to look at, listen to and write about. Since we left you in December, Miley kicked off her shiny new Bangerz tour, Pete Seeger passed away, J-Biebs caused all kinds of mischief and 115 million people tuned into the Super Bowl halftime performance featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I imagine you saw most of that, but have you seen the hat Pharrell Williams wore to the Grammys? It caused quite a stir.
Not a stranger to controversy, Williams wears a lot of “hats” in his professional career. A producer, performer and composer, 40-year-old Williams contributes to the music industry in numerous ways, and people are taking notice. With four new miniature gramophones to add to his collection bringing his total number of Grammy awards to seven, as well as a single approaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Williams’s name is becoming more and more difficult to ignore in the music business.
Williams’s skyrocketing career caught the public’s eye last summer when his contributions to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” helped land the titles the number one and two spots respectively on the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first musician since the Black Eyed Peas in 2009 to do so. Since then, his single “Happy” has jumped quickly up the list to number two, competing with Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” which has held the title of most popular song in the U.S. for three weeks and counting.
This is not the first time Williams has gained national attention, though his first experience with publicity came as a result of his role in the The Neptunes a production company. His connections with artists such as Kelis, Britney Spears, Nelly, Jay-Z and Daft Punk gave him and Neptunes production partner Chad Hugo the opportunity to produce hits that include Spears’s “I’m A Slave 4 U” and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” The duo won their first two Grammys in 2004, one of which was for Producer of the Year, an award Williams won again this year for his solo work.
Today Williams is not only a well-known producer but also a rising artist himself. While Williams has been performing for nearly 15 years, his name and voice have only recently become part of the mainstream media. However, in 2006, Williams released a studio Hip-Hop/Rap album called “In My Mind,” which reached number three on the Billboard 200. If you remember listening to this album, congratulations – you may be a hipster!
Perhaps one of Williams’s most unusual endeavors is that of composer for 2012’s Academy Awards, both “Despicable Me” movies and the upcoming “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” If you keep up with this column, you know all about the transition of popular artists into film scores if not, take a look back – it’s a trend you will want to be on the lookout for.
So what else is Pharrell Williams up to today? The short answer given my limited space on this page is: a lot. At home, Williams is likely busy enjoying the honeymoon phase of his recent marriage to Helen Lasichanh, the mother of his five-year-old son Rocket Man. At work, he is as busy as ever. Williams just finished his 24-hour music video for “Happy,” the first of its kind, which can be found at 24hoursofhappy.com. His next steps include performing at the Oscars on March 2, where he is nominated for “Best Original Song,” and producing his second studio album, to be released sometime this year. If you just cannot wait that long, Major Lazer will release an EP on Feb. 25 that features Williams on a song called “Aerosol Can.”
So what does this have to do with his hat? To be honest, not much. But the hat is just one more example of Williams’s newfound and ever-growing fame. It even has its own Twitter account: @Pharrellhat. Not only that, but my Twitter search for “pharrell hat” has generated 45 new results since I started writing this article – and I’m just in the “Top” field. That isn’t even close to all of them. So hats off, everyone except you Pharrell, your hat is fabulous, and let us give a nod to one of the fastest-growing musical artists of our time.