Girl (Pharrell Williams album)

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"GIRL" redirects here. For other uses, see Girl (disambiguation).
Girl
Studio album by Pharrell Williams
Released March 3, 2014 (2014-03-03)
Recorded 2013 at Chalice Recording Studios, Jungle City Studios, Glenwood Place Studios, Newman Scoring Stage, Conway Recording Studios, Circle House Studios, Studio At The Palms, The Studio At The Setai, South Beach Studios, Chicago Recording Company, Germano Studios, Studio Gang
Genre Funk,[1] soul,[1] R&B,[2] dance-pop[3]
Length 46:54
Label i Am Other, Columbia
Producer Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams chronology
  • Girl
  • (2014)
Singles from Girl
  1. "Happy"
    Released: November 21, 2013 (2013-11-21)
  2. "Marilyn Monroe"
    Released: March 10, 2014 (2014-03-10)
  3. "Come Get It Bae"
    Released: May 8, 2014 (2014-05-08)

Girl (stylized as G I R L) is the second studio album by American recording artist and record producer Pharrell Williams. The album was released on March 3, 2014, through Williams' label i Am Other and Columbia Records. Girl is Williams' first studio album in eight years, following his 2006 debut, In My Mind.[4] The album contains appearances by Kelly Osbourne, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, JoJo, Alicia Keys, Tori Kelly and Leah LaBelle.[5]

The album received generally positive reviews from music critics.[6] It peaked at number one in 12 countries worldwide, also charting in the top 10 of 17 other countries. The album has sold over 450,000 copies in the United States as of June 2014.[7]

The album's lead single is the Academy Award-nominated song "Happy" (from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack), which is a huge worldwide success, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. Further singles "Marilyn Monroe" and "Come Get It Bae" have achieved moderate success.

Background[edit]

Williams provided vocals for French duo Daft Punk's 2013 album Random Access Memories. After returning from the Paris recording sessions, he attended a meeting with record label managers, who said that the results were "spectacular" and that "Get Lucky" would be Daft Punk's next single. They also made Williams an offer to record his own album, to which he agreed quickly, "overwhelmed that someone wanted to know what's in my heart."[8]

On December 17, 2013, it was announced that Williams had signed to Columbia Records and would release his second studio album in 2014.[9] In a December 2013, press release Rob Stringer, Chairman of Columbia Records, said, "When we excitedly partnered with Pharrell in January of this year, we felt it was his time again. Since then, 'Blurred Lines' and 'Get Lucky' have defined pop music in 2013, and now we are preparing to launch Pharrell as a global solo superstar in 2014. 'Happy' is just the beginning."[9]

On February 18, 2014, Williams unveiled a trailer for the album.[10] The next day, he said in a statement, "When Columbia Records presented me with the opportunity to make an album, three things came to mind, One was the sense of overwhelming honor that I felt when I realized that they were interested in partnering with me on the album that I had always dreamt of making. Two, it would have to feel festive and urgent. And three, I instantly knew it would be called G I R L. I hope you like it."[11]

Concept[edit]

Called a feminist "almost-concept" album in early reviews,[12] Girl is Williams' attempt to "eliminate what he sees as an understandable degree of uncertainty over what his attitude to women actually is." He said that he felt the need to clarify himself in the wake of "Blurred Lines" controversy, as with the song's "questionable lyrics, and the nature of the aesthetic of the video, it's easy to get confused about that."[8][13] Williams also stated, "There's an imbalance in society, in my opinion, and it's going to change. A world where 75 percent of it is run by women – that's a different world. That's gonna happen, and I want to be on the right side of it when it does."[8]

Interviewed by Zane Lowe backstage at the 2014 BRIT Awards, Williams specified that the capitalization and double-spacing of the album title is deliberately designed, "Because when you look at it, it looks a little weird... Because society is a little unbalanced." He also added that he wished to honor the female figures that had been part of his life by making the record.[14]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The opening track on the album, "Marilyn Monroe", begins with an orchestral string introduction.[15] The song's production is characterized by Williams' signature "skittering" beat and "bumping" bass line,[16] and its lyrics discuss "helpless romantics and the perfect lady."[16]

The album's first single, "Happy", is a neo soul and funk song that Williams sings in a falsetto singing tone.[17]

"Come Get It Bae", which features uncredited guest vocals from Miley Cyrus, is a funk song with playful beat,[18][19] Lyrically, the song is based around sex and the metaphor "You want to ride my motorcycle?" serving as a double entendre for sex.[20]

Singles[edit]

"Happy" was released as the lead single from the album on November 21, 2013; the song was originally written for and included on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.[21] On November 24, Williams released the first 24-hour music video for "Happy". Guest appearances included Magic Johnson, Steve Carell, Jimmy Kimmel, Jamie Foxx, Steve Martin, Odd Future, Miranda Cosgrove, Janelle Monáe and many others.[22] The song has been commercially successful, peaking at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, topping charts in 19 other countries, and reaching top 10 positions in several more. It received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards, and Williams performed the song live at the ceremony on March 2, 2014.[23]

In an interview with New York radio station Power 105.1, Williams revealed that the album's second single would be "Marilyn Monroe".[24] On March 10, 2014, the single was added to the playlist of British urban contemporary radio station BBC Radio 1Xtra.[25]

"Come Get It Bae" serves as the third single release from Girl, and the second in the United States. It impacted mainstream urban radio on May 8, 2014[26] and rhythmic, urban contemporary and contemporary hit radio on May 20, 2014.[27]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 67/100[6]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[28]
The A.V. Club B[29]
Consequence of Sound B–[30]
Entertainment Weekly B[31]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[32]
The Independent 3/5 stars[3]
Pitchfork Media 6.2/10[33]
Spin 8/10[34]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[35]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[36]

Upon its release, Girl received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 67, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 35 reviews.[6] Billboard magazine's Reggie Ugwu rated the album 85/100, and wrote that "like Williams' most recent hits, [Girl] is a relentlessly positive and unselfconsciously joyful tour de force."[4] Michael Cragg of The Guardian called Girl "an audacious, almost-concept album celebrating women and aiming to highlight society's gender imbalance."[12] Andy Kellman of AllMusic gave the album four out of five stars, saying "Compared to his albums with N.E.R.D. and In My Mind, this is easily Pharrell's second most enjoyable album, just behind the original version of In Search Of... from 2001. It's fun, frivolous, and low on excess."[28]

Barry Walters of Spin gave the album an eight out of ten, saying "That lighter-than-helium vibe is all over Girl, the most audacious milestone in the Neptunes/N.E.R.D. icon's already storied career. As suggested by its title, Pharrell's second solo album follows last year's monster smashes for Daft Punk and Robin Thicke with a full-length both unabashedly feminine and neatly spaced-out."[34] Reed Jackson of XXL gave the album an XL rating, saying "G I R L not only represents a proper representation of his creativity, but, with high-profile guest spots (Timberlake, Cyrus, Daft Punk) and a number of radio-ready singles, it should also be a success on the charts and further his reputation as a pop icon. Let the man’s hot streak continue."[37]

Andy Gill of The Independent gave the album three out of five stars, saying "It’s an enjoyable dance-pop album lacking a central focus. But one whose diffident charm makes a pleasant change from the overwrought wailing that routinely afflicts R&B."[3] Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine gave the album three out of five stars, saying "As Williams tells it, the Despicable Me 2 team made him go through eight drafts before he arrived at the disarming, first-person charm of "Happy". Girl may have benefited from a few more introspective trips back to the drawing board."[36] Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the album four out of five stars, saying "The Motown-funk sound that dominates most of G I R L was always going to be a given after the success of "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines", but what is surprising is its lyrical content, which is celebratory of women's power and sexuality, unlike his Robin Thicke collaboration."[38]

Chris Kelly of Fact gave the album one out of five stars, saying "From the orchestral string intro of "Marilyn Monroe" to the funk-rock jam session that ends "It Girl", G I R L is 45 minutes of warmed-over retro-pop pastiche, cribbing from Michael Jackson and Chic, from disco and yacht rock. Mostly, Pharrell is content to approximate dance floor fillers from the ’70s and ’80s; at his worst, he rehashes the more soulful and innovative material he made a decade ago."[15] Oliver Keens of Time Out gave the album four out of five stars, saying "The best you can say is that Pharrell has created, hands down, one of the biggest and best pop albums of the year. The worst is that, well, it sometimes sounds a bit Magic FM. Oddly age-appropriate, in fact, for one so young looking."[39]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart on March 9, 2014. With first-week sales of over 70,000 copies, it was the fastest-selling album of 2014 in the UK at the time of its release, overtaking Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes by 45% and being certified Silver.[40]

In the United States, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 113,000 copies.[41] In its second week the album dropped to number five on that chart, selling 45,000 more copies.[42] In its third week the album dropped to number six on that chart, selling 34,000 more copies.[43] In its fourth week the album rose to number five on that chart, selling 25,000 more copies.[44] As of August 13, 2014, the album has sold 495,000 copies in the United States.[45]

Track listing[edit]

Girl
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Marilyn Monroe"   5:51
2. "Brand New" (duet with Justin Timberlake) Williams 4:31
3. "Hunter"   Williams 4:00
4. "Gush"   Williams 3:54
5. "Happy" (from Despicable Me 2) Williams 3:53
6. "Come Get It Bae"   Williams 3:21
7. "Gust of Wind"   Williams 4:45
8. "Lost Queen" / "Freq"   Williams 7:56
9. "Know Who You Are" (duet with Alicia Keys) Williams 3:56
10. "It Girl"   Williams 4:47
Total length:
46:54

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[48] 1
Australian Urban Albums (ARIA)[49] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[50] 4
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[51] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[52] 2
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[53] 2
Croatian Foreign Albums (IFPI)[54] 9
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[55] 4
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[56] 1
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[57] 2
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[58] 7
French Albums (SNEP)[59] 1
German Albums (Official Top 100)[60] 2
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[61] 6
Italian Albums (FIMI)[62] 1
Irish Albums (IRMA)[63] 3
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[64] 3
Japanese International Albums (Billboard Japan)[65] 1
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[66] 2
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[67] 1
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[68] 3
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[69] 4
Scottish Albums (OCC)[70] 1
South Korea Albums (GAON)[71] 18
South Korea International Albums (GAON)[72] 4
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[73] 6
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[74] 2
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[75] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[76] 1
UK R&B Albums (OCC)[77] 1
US Billboard 200[78] 2
US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums (Billboard)[79] 1

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[80] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[81] Gold 40,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[82] Gold 100,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[83] Gold 10,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[84] Gold 15,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[85] Gold 100,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Worldwide March 3, 2014[86] Digital download, CD Black Lot Music, Columbia Records

References[edit]

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