Rapper. Fashion designer. Songwriter. Producer. Skateboarder. Singer. In the twenty years that the world has known him, Pharrell Williams has worn many a hat – some of them his own design, and all of them at the jauntiest of angles. As part of the Neptunes, Pharrell has produced remarkable music for a remarkable roster of artists: everyone from Daft Punk to Kelis to Britney Spears to Jay-Z owe a part of their success to Skateboard P. The man has gone on to write, sing, produce and collaborate with music’s most talented artists – the list is truly mindboggling.
But never fear. As always, Top Five Records gives you a good place to start. Here’s our list of the top five songs with those moneymaker words in the title: “ft. Pharrell”.
5. “Celebrate”, Mika ft. Pharrell
Since his debut with the aptly-titled Life in Cartoon Motion, Brit singer/songwriter Mika has been well-known for his larger-than-life pop songs with delectable happy-go-lucky vibes. Last year’s album The Origin of Love featured one such gem, “Celebrate”, a disco-dance-synthpop anthem that’s just ridiculously upbeat. Pharrell co-wrote the song with Mika and contributed a verse, too. His intuitive sense of arrangement and design, paired with Mika’s joyous, talented voice, makes for a laudable combination. Here’s hoping to more collaborations between the two.
4. “Change Clothes”, Jay Z ft. Pharrell
Hova and Pharrell have quite a history. Mr Williams has had a hand in every Jay Z album (with the exception of The Blueprint) since 2000’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, including this year’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail. Our favorite collab between the two geniuses (genii?) is 2003’s “Change Clothes”, off of the iconic Black Album. Everything on the track just works: from that indubitable Neptunes bounce to Jay’s unmistakable cool. We find it only fitting that the refrain in the video shows Pharrell flanked by fawning models at a fashion show: it’s just that slick.
3. “Give It Up”, Twista ft. Pharrell
Twista is one of the most underrated rappers in the game today. There haven’t been as many bright spots in his career as there should have been, but one of the brightest and most colourful is definitely his collaboration with Pharrell on 2007’s “Give It Up”. The video is somewhere between 1950s airline commercial and a Tetris game, full of solid colors and candy boxes and pin-up girls: classic Hype Williams. Pharrell and Twista seem to have a lot of fun in the song, listing out all the kinds of girls who “wanna give it up” for them – black, white, Spanish, Middle Eastern, you name it. We have a slinky feeling that the song just wouldn’t have been as great without Pharrell’s presence.
2. “Get Lucky”, Daft Punk ft. Pharrell
All around the world this year, for the entire summer, critics and fans have been fawning over this phenomenal song. Music this groovy has not been made since the disco fever; it’s funny that it took a couple of French robots to bring it all back. Between Nile Rodgers’ shimmery fretting and Pharrell’s infectious chorus, it’s no wonder that “Get Lucky” is THE song of the summer. The song’s rabid success is anything but luck, though – Pharrell and Rodgers collaborating with Daft Punk is just that electric a combination.
1. “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell
“I got the Rolly on my arm and I’m pouring Chandon/ I got the best weed ‘cause I got it going on,” claims Snoop in the opening lines of this track, and you know he isn’t lying. Big boasts populate the track that coasts atop one of the slickest Neptunes beats ever – composed entirely of tongue clicks. The track really showcases why there will never be anyone as stylish in the game as Snoop Dogg. The black and white composition of the track’s brilliant video perfectly suits the Neptunes’ minimalistic style. “Think before you fuck with lil Skateboard P,” warns Pharrell in one verse, and he’s right. There’s really no one quite like him.
“Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and TI
In 2013, Pharrell Williams became only the 12th artist in the history to hold both the #1 and #2 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time, pairing the ubiquitous “Get Lucky” with the equally omnipresent “Blurred Lines”. In the well-received music video, Robin Thicke, Pharrell, TI and three young models flirt in front of a simple peach-coloured wall, soundtracked to a Marvin Gaye-meets-Prince romp that will definitely get you dancing. It’s suave, swaggering, and an absolute riot. What’s not to love?
Agree with our list? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!