We saw the interview. We’ve seen the cute tumblr GIFs of Pharrell getting teary-eyed as people from here to Iceland sang his “Happy” song. And I’m sure we’d all be delighted to win a title as prestigious — for lack of better word — as GQ’s Man of the Year.
But for true fans of Pharrell — those who have been down for at least a decade or more — we know that Pharrell was not man of the year this year by our standards. He was DEF. man of the year circa 2001 when “Grindin’” was on heavy rotation and nearly every hip hop, R&B, and pop artist broke their neck to get a taste of the Neptunes sound. Beyond his producing talents, N.E.R.D. was a powerhouse, BBC was 10 times more popping than it is now (is anybody still waiting in line for Ice Creams?), the StarTrek label, well, existed, and he almost singlehandedly brought skateboard culture to the mainstream. According to our standards, Pharrell was man of the year, maybe even man of the Decade, a long time ago.
But Oprah wasn’t checking for him back then. It wasn’t until he released this cookie cutter, suburban-friendly stuff that he was invited to appear on the show. It’s awesome that Oprah congratulated him for “making it”, but the BIG picture here, to me at least, is that Pharrell didn’t make it when he was holding true to his original fan base; he made it when he appealed to everybody else.
And it’s no secret that when we (which could mean you if you feel where I’m coming from) set a standard of excellence, it won’t always be recognized by the mainstream and, therefore, it won’t be remembered as excellence. For example, to me and many others like me, Dead Presidents is one of the best movies ever made. But since it didn’t win any Oscars or SAG Awards, it wont be recognized as such.
I’m sure many of us agree that “Happy”, “Get Lucky”, and “Blurred Lines” are not Pharrell’s best work even though they topped the charts and challenged that “glowstick/glowstick/trap/trap” echo we constantly hear on the radio. But in true Oprah fashion, he is being rewarded for crossing over.
That’s the BIG picture. I’m going to go listen to GIRL now lol