Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: Pharrell's 'Girl' appeals, no matter what

I was never one to subscribe to the concept of the "guilty pleasure," mainly because I see an inherent absurdity in owing the world a debt of shame simply as a result of one's taste. For instance, is it not one's prerogative to enjoy a Nickelback album from time to time? It seems, however, that the bubbly hubris of Pharrell Williams has compromised this ideology of mine. I enjoyed Girl, and yes, I'm a tiny bit guilty.

This is not a reaction that stems from some sort of embarrassment on behalf of Pharrell. One of the first songs to get this guy on the map was the omnipresent Happy — geez, that song was huge — so even if you don't know that he's on top of the world, I'm betting he does, and I commend him for enjoying it so much. My conflict is that Pharrell's music is scarcely something to which I'm attracted in album-sized doses.

But that just means that Pharrell does what he does exactly how it should be done — the most successful funk is, of course, that to which no one is impervious. The first time I heard Hunter, I hated it. Then I noticed that my defenses were being lowered and that this song I bemoaned was over much too quickly. That's what makes listening to Girl such an individual experience. It has the promise of appeal no matter what. The only variable is the extent to which it appeals.

Even if you heartily believe that Happy was beaten to death, and that Ellen DeGeneres waited far too long to swat that hat off Pharrell's dopey head and use it to collect pizza money, you might still end up listening to it more than once. That is because Girl, however repetitive or exhaustive, bathes in swagger that is a matter of fact. Pharrell's singular style is pathogenic. You're going to like it some way or another — it's only a question of whether you'll feel guilty.

MAX ASAYESH-BROWN St. Petersburg High

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