Tag Archives: Pharrell

SINGLE REVIEW: Ed Sheeran – “Sing”

Sheer genius.

Sheer genius.

(Listen to “Sing”) — (Buy “Sing” on iTunes – U.S. only, available 4/8)

The last few years have been a crazy ride for 23-year-old singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran. After signing with Atlantic in 2011 following a series of EP releases, he soared onto the British charts that summer with “The A Team”, which debuted and peaked at #3. Parent album + (“plus”) did even better, securing a #1 debut in September in the United Kingdom. It’s one of the rare debut efforts to go six singles deep in that country, all of which went top 40 and sent album sales up to 6x Platinum status, or 1.8 million units. A similar story happened around the globe in the next few months.

In the U.S., Sheeran’s rise was more drawn out. “Team”, sent to AAA radio in February 2012 and Hot AC in March, rose to #3 at the former in July, but slowly crept up to #5 at the latter (and #9 CHR) in January 2013. The extra time paid off: the single sold 2 million copies during its U.S. run, + went Gold and he, himself, has garnered two GRAMMY nominations in the Big Four in two consecutive years. The era ended rather abruptly over the summer as third single “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” (followup to “Lego House”) was serviced as duet “Everything Has Changed” (with Taylor Swift, from Red) went to radio in July, with “Changed” winning out. Yet, times have changed again and he’s back for more.

“Sing” leads off the second full-length album from Sheeran, x (“multiply”). It’s issued worldwide on Monday, June 23. It was produced by an unlikely collaborator, Pharrell Williams, who describes the song as “a dance record… not because it’s electronica, but because it’s danceable.” (Billboard) He’s certainly right. The massive track, built on a booming drum line straight out of the 80’s hip-hop scene, the singer’s charming falsetto and a guitar riff sounding plucked out of “Long Train Runnin'” by the Doobie Brothers, is bound to be a huge hit during the summer season and certainly give him the needed momentum to have a well deserved big sophomore era on the worldwide charts.

Out on the town, Sheeran and his lady make their best of their crazy situation by “ignoring everybody here/We wish they would disappear/So, maybe we could get down now.” Intent to woo her more directly, he opines, “I want you to be mine, lady,” and into the stripped-back chorus, becomes decidedly more sensual: “If you love me, come on, get involved/Feel it rushing through you from your head to toe.” Their passion for one another grows rather quickly, as he quickly raps to open verse two: “This love is ablaze/I saw flames on the side of the stage/And the fire brigade comes in a couple of days.” The songs rides along in this zone for much of the rest of composition, grooving to a solid beat against Sheeran’s shouts of “Can you feel it?” much like a Jacksons disco record. It’s fresh, yet inspired, and it’s bound for a whole lot of attention.

Look out for more information on Sheeran’s forthcoming album and tour dates in Europe (and hopefully the U.S. as well) on his official social media sites.

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TURN IT UP MONDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (March 3)

I'm not Frontin'...

“Happy” to be back.

Thanks to a dashing Despicable fellow, most of this week’s releases are out a day early! (NOTE: some releases may still not be out until Tuesday dependent on record label availability/iTunes response time.) Here’s what you need to know about on the schedule for the week of March 3:

  • Clap along if you feel like this one’s going to grab some big sales next week. Pharrell Williams‘s G I R L (iTunes) is his first album since 2006 and features “Happy”, which is all over the radio and also received a nomination for Best Original Song at this year’s Academy Awards. The only thing that could thwart his plan is the ever-present Frozen, which won in the same category for Idina Menzel‘s “Let It Go”. Expect that these two releases will be the top two albums in the country next week, with the order TBD.
  • If you’re feeling might Country this week and want to wrangle some (w)releases, check out the new albums from David Nail, titled I’m A Fire (iTunes), and the Eli Young Band with 10,000 Towns (iTunes). Both acts have hit #1 on the Country chart with the leadoff singles (“Whatever She’s Got” and “Drunk Last Night”, respectively) from each of the releases.
  • Originally from Boston and now based in Brooklyn, twangy pop-rockers American Authors are in stores with their first full-length album, Oh, What A Life. It features the single “Best Day Of My Life”, which you’ve been hearing in the movies and on TV since the fall. (iTunes) (My review of Oh, What A Life)
  • Rapper Rick Ross is out with his sixth studio album, Mastermind. The current radio single from it, climbing up at Urban radio, is “The Devil Is A Lie”, which features Jay Z. (iTunes)
  • Glee‘s golden girl Lea Michele packs some pop on her debut solo effort, Louder. The first single from it is “Cannonball”, which hasn’t exactly been making waves on the radio. Alas, the Gleeks will be out for this one. (iTunes)
  • Other releases out this week include: Ashanti‘s BraveHeart (iTunes), Bob Dylan‘s deluxe re-issue of 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (iTunes), Chris Wallace‘s re-release of Push Rewind (iTunes), Drive-By Truckers‘s English Oceans (iTunes), Fuel‘s Puppet Strings (iTunes) and Ghost Beach‘s Blonde (iTunes).

New digital-only EPs and singles that you can buy this week include:

  • “Magic”, a new single from Coldplay. (iTunes)
  • “Raging Fire”, a new single from former American Idol winner Phillip Phillips. (iTunes)
  • Somebody’s Party (EP), a six-song effort from Erik Hassle. (iTunes)

Next week, Aloe Blacc and the crew from Young Money have the biggest albums hitting stores; will either go to #1? A preview is coming in seven!

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Roll The Credits: Big Delays From The Big Screen

From flicks to hits.

From flicks to hits.

Around the world, people have been grooving to the latest single by Pharrell Williams, “Happy”. The 40-year-old’s new jam has now been to #1 in ten countries including Australia and the United Kingdom. However, the song has a long history, one that’s especially surprising considering the performer’s been red hot as both a singer and producer over the past year.

You may not know that “Happy” was first released on the soundtrack to the film Despicable Me 2, out last July. A radio edit was serviced at the time, but wasn’t heavily pushed. Several months went by and then a “24-hour” music video for it was made available in November, meant to promote the song rather than the movie (although there are scenes with characters from it dancing along to the music.) Now, with a Beats By Dre ad all over TV, it’s being serviced again to U.S. radio next week as the first single from Williams’s upcoming solo album with no further tie-ins to the film. Confusing, yes?

This isn’t the first time this kind of thing’s happened, but it’s not often that it does. In fact, in some cases, it takes years for a song originally found on a soundtrack to become a hit in its own right. Here are some notable examples from the past:

“Another Part Of Me”, Michael Jackson (1986-1988)
Captain EO, a science fiction movie starring Jackson in the lead role, premiered at both Disney World and Disneyland in September 1986 and featured this song at the end of it. A year later, it was on Jackson’s hit album Bad, and as the sixth single to be released from the effort, it went as high as #11 in September 1988. “Part” was the only top ten miss of that era.

“Lily Was Here”, David A. Stewart featuring Candy Dulfer (1989-1991)
“Lily” was used in the 1989 Dutch film De Kassière, which was released during that summer. It took until November to hit #1 on the Dutch Singles Chart, spending six weeks in the position, and it took until the spring of 1991 to see a single release in the U.S., eventually peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 in July. It remains one of the last instrumentals to reach the top 40.

“Thank You”, Dido (1998-2001)
Back in 1998, “Thank You” was included on the soundtrack to Sliding Doors, which featured several other charting singles at the time from Aqua (“Turn Back Time”) and Blair (“Have Fun, Go Mad”). It wasn’t until it was sampled on Eminem‘s “Stan” that the song was given a release in the U.S., going to #3 on both CHR radio and the Hot 100 in the spring of 2001.

“Cups (When I’m Gone)”, Anna Kendrick (2012-2013)
From the successful Pitch Perfect, which opened in September 2012, the lyrics for “Cups” date back to the 1930’s when it was written as a bluegrass composition. The song originally went for adds in February 2013, a few months after the movie was out on DVD, but it wasn’t until August that it slowly rose to #6 on the Hot 100 (#8 CHR). A sequel is now in the works.

There are also several songs that didn’t break the charts until after being awarded (or their respective film being awarded) at ceremonies such as the Academy Awards. These instances mostly took place in the 70’s and include “The Morning After” by Maureen McGovern (from The Poseidon Adventure) and “The Rose” by Bette Midler (from The Rose). One of the longer waits was by “I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine, named Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, which didn’t peak until August 1976 at #17, over a year after Nashville opened. Another is “Chariots Of Fire” by Vangelis from the film of the same name, the winner for Best Score; it first premiered in March 1981, but didn’t reach #1 until May 1982.

For more movie madness on the music charts, follow the blog below or hit the “Get Social!” tab to find out how you can connect with PGTC on social media.

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Just Got Lucky: Pharrell’s On Fire, But For How Long?

I'm not Frontin'...

I’m not Frontin’…

He’s the man with the Midas Touch, it seems; his producing and featured appearances turn to Gold and Platinum records. 40-year-old Pharrell Williams is back on top of the charts with his involvement on two huge summer singles: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, featuring he and T.I. (a Williams co-write and production) and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, where he is a vocalist and co-writer. Understandably, there have been quite a few calls placed to his office for collaborations: he’s featured on new singles by rappers 2 Chainz and Azealia Banks, plus he’s being put to good use on albums by Jay-Z, Justin TimberlakeMayer Hawthorne, Mike Posner and Miley Cyrus, but that list keeps on growing. For a guy who has been in the industry 20+ years, it’s nice to see that he’s a relevant name in the mainstream once again. Yet, it’s all come very fast, and with the radio release of a song he did for Despicable Me 2, “Happy”, he’s bound to be overexposed down the road. How much is too much and how long can Pharrell maintain this sudden momentum? You decide if this is the real thing or just a summer fling.

I guess what gets me most, and maybe a few other analyzers too, is whether this sudden rise in popularity for this jack-of-all-trades is a performer/producer trend or a genre/sound trend, because the former is a little more stable than the latter, but he’s essentially mixed up in both. I’ve noted above that Pharrell is on a number of current and forthcoming projects that will take him through the end of the year should he play his cards right. This is a set of production, vocal and writing credits, so it’s not just focused in one area of the song. Still, his frequent appearances will ultimately get him compared to other acts like Flo RidaPitbull, and will.i.am, providing the “rent-a-rapper” break for an act whose label is trying to secure a hit. I’m personally hoping that he doesn’t get caught up in this area, because there’s a high potential of backlash to follow. Go on any music message board (or listen to any mainstream radio station) and you’ll see the dozens of cries in disgust when a new single by an anonymous performer is serviced with the (featuring so-and-so rapper) tag. This isn’t the case in every song he has out right now, but you just wait. It could happen.

So, he’s getting more work today. However, there is a second argument that both songs that he’s featured on, “Lines” and “Lucky”, are also influenced by variations of 70’s disco, a specific sound belonging to a previous era. “Lines” is a party jam inspired by Marvin Gaye‘s #1 hit “Got To Give It Up” (1977), while a co-write by Nile Rodgers on “Lucky” automatically brings up Chic with songs like “Le Freak” (1978) and “Good Times” (1979). (His own single, “Happy”, is a Motown copycat.) Besides these songs, there are a few other throwback singles making their way up the charts: “Safe And Sound” by Capital Cities, for example, is very much rooted in the late 70’s new wave scene and could’ve easily been a Devo song, while “Treasure” by Bruno Mars brings you back to the club, reminiscent of Michael Jackson‘s Off The Wall era. This would reinforce the idea that it’s only a trend given that those two songs are hits at multiple formats. It may only last until the end of the season. It also helps that not everything Pharrell is producing is dated; his current single with 2 Chainz, “Feds Watching”, is just that — sounding like it belongs in 2013, not 1979. Case closed?

Not exactly. It’s going to be at least another few months until we can determine which way popular radio has travelled, at least until “Lines” and “Lucky” finish their chart runs. Remember, these things probably won’t be off the air/out of high rotation until probably September or October. It should be pointed out that although these featured appearances have done wonders for Pharrell, he has only managed one top 40 hit as a main-credited artist, “Frontin'”, which peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in the later summer of 2003. It featured Jay-Z, and while it was huge at Urban radio, it was only a minor crossover at CHR radio. Let’s be honest, it was out ten years ago; you probably barely remember it if at all. His only solo album to date did moderately well, 2006’s In My Mind, but produced no top 40 singles (though a pair did make the Hot 100.) “Happy”, you little soundtrack single… you don’t really have a bright future, I’m afraid, not that Mr. Williams is scoffing when he’s rolling in plenty of dough.

Regardless of what you think of him, the guy’s come a long way from his first musical number, 1992’s “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect. However, with the kind of exposure he’s getting lately and the unfortunate ageism in the industry, radio and retail may just shake him off sooner rather than later, and that’s not very lucky at all.

Let me know what you think about Pharrell, his musicand his resurgence. Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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SINGLE PREMIERE: Daft Punk featuring Pharrell – “Get Lucky” (+ Lyrics)

With a little "Luck", it'll be huge.

With a little “Luck”, it’ll be huge.

Download “Get Lucky” on iTunes.

You’ve heard a taste of it in a few commercials; now, the full thing is out. It’s the highly anticipated single by dance and electronic group Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”, featuring a guest vocal from Pharrell Williams. It’s the first release from their new album, Random Access Memories, out May 21 on Columbia Records. The thirteen-track effort features other collaborations with producers Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers, as well as other musicians. You’ll be seeing a lot more information about it coming out soon. Listen to the radio edit version of “Get Lucky” here.

“GET LUCKY”
Pharrell, Daft Punk

[Verse 1]
Like the legend of the Phoenix
All ends are beginnings
What keeps the planet spinning, ah
The force from the beginning

[Pre-Chorus x2]
She’s up all night ’til the sun
I’m up all night to get some
She’s up all night for good fun
I’m up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun
We’re up all night to get lucky (x4)

[Chorus]
We’re up all night to get lucky (x8)
We’re up all night to get-to-get-to get
We’re up all night to get lucky (x2)
We’re up all night to get-to-get-to get
We’re up all night to get lucky (x2)

[Verse 2]
The present has no limit
Your gift keeps on giving
What is this I’m feeling
If you wanna leave I’m with it
We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar in our cups to the stars

[Pre-Chorus x2]
She’s up all night ’til the sun
I’m up all night to get some
She’s up all night for good fun
I’m up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun
We’re up all night to get lucky (x4)

[Chorus x2]
We’re up all night to get-to-get-to get
We’re up all night to get lucky (x2)
We’re up all night to get-to-get-to get
We’re up all night to get lucky (x2)

We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar in our cups to the stars

[Pre-Chorus – x2]
We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun
We’re up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night to get lucky (x8)

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