Top 10 Pharrell Williams Songs

Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams. Photo by Mike Pont / Getty Images
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10. Pharrell Williams - "Frontin'" featuring Jay-Z (2003)

Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams. Photo by Mike Pont / Getty Images

Written by Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Shawn Carter

Produced by The Neptunes

When "Frontin'" was released as Pharrell Williams' debut solo single, he insisted he had no ambitions to be an artist in his own right and would stick to production and songwriting in the future. This song about putting up a false facade hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Pharrell Williams co-wrote and produced "Frontin'" with his Neptunes partner Chad Hugo. British jazz artist Jamie Cullum's cover of "Frontin'" so impressed Pharrell Williams it led to him signing a recording contract with Pharrell Williams' Star Trak label.

"Frontin'" was included on the 2003 Neptunes album The Neptunes Present...Clones. The album debuted at #1 on the album chart with first week sales totaling 249,000. It ultimately earned a gold certification for sales. The collection includes appearances from Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Nelly, and Jay-Z among others.

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02
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9. Ed Sheeran - "Sing" (2014)

Ed Sheeran Sing
Ed Sheeran - "Sing". Courtesy Atlantic

Pharrell Williams co-wrote "Sing" with artist Ed Sheeran. He also produced the record, and it was selected as the first single from Ed Sheeran's second album x. "Sing" was influenced by the music of Justin Timberlake on the albums Justified and FutureSex / LoveSounds. Pharrell Williams delivers uncredited background vocals and appears in the official music video. The new R&B direction for Ed Sheeran was a big international hit. It peaked at #13 in the US while going to #1 at home in the UK. Critics commented that Ed Sheeran's voice sounded more full and confident singing this type of song.

The innovative music video for "Sing" featured a puppet version of Ed Sheeran on a crazy night out. It earned the Best Male Video honor at the MTV Video Music Awards. Ed Sheeran's x album became a worldwide smash and hit #1 in both the US and the UK. It earned a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year.

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03
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8. Jay-Z - "Excuse Me Miss" featuring Pharrell (2003)

Jay-Z Excuse Me Miss
Jay-Z - "Excuse Me Miss" featuring Pharrell. Courtesy Def Jam

Written by Shawn Carter, Pharrell Williams, and Chad Hugo

Produced by The Neptunes

Back in the days before Beyonce became Mrs. Carter, Jay-Z performed "Excuse Me Miss" about his efforts to find a compatible woman.  Pharrell Williams contributes falsetto vocals as well as sharing songwriting duties and production with his Neptunes partner Chad Hugo. The song features samples from Luther Vandross' "Take You Out" and The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa." "Excuse Me Miss" was featured on the album The Blueprint 2 and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart. It earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Song. A sequel titled "La-La-La (Excuse Me Miss Again)" is included on the Jay-Z album The Blueprint 2.1.

The Blueprint 2 was a landmark album for Jay-Z It was his fifth consecutive #1 charting studio album and sold more than 500,000 copies in its first week of release. 

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04
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7. Justin Timberlake - "Rock Your Body" (2003)

Justin Timberlake Rock Your Body
Justin Timberlake - "Rock Your Body". Courtesy Jive

Written by Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, and Chad Hugo

Produced by Williams and Hugo

The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) initially gave "Rock Your Body" and several other songs to Michael Jackson to record for his Invincible album.  However, he did not want any of them and they were passed on to Justin Timberlake for his debut solo album Justified. Vanessa Marquez sings the female vocals on the track. This song was one of two top 10 hits from the album. It peaked at #5 and was certified gold for sales. "Rock Your Body" gained some notoriety as the song that was being performed at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show by Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson during the infamous "wardrobe malfunction."

"Rock Your Body's" sound is influence by classic music by both Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. The accompanying music video was directed by Francis Lawrence, who is best known today for directing three of the films in the Hunger Games series. Justin Timberlake dances with Staci Flood in the video, and she lip synchs the Vanessa Marquez vocals. Justin Timberlake's Justified album was a major success peaking at #2 on the chart and selling more than three million copies in the US alone.

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05
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6. Snoop Dogg - "Drop It Like It's Hot" featuring Pharrell (2004)

Snoop Dogg Drop It Like It's Hot
Snoop Dogg - "Drop It Like It's Hot" featuring Pharrell. Courtesy Geffen

Written by Chad Hugo, Calvin Broadus, and Pharrell Williams

Produced by The Neptunes

The phrase, "Drop it like it's hot," had been used in a number of songs before Snoop Dogg made it a centerpiece of this #1 smash hit.  He turned it into one of the biggest rap hits of the decade with the help of Pharrell Williams and his partner in The Neptunes Chad Hugo. The recording includes vocal samples from Laid Back's 1983 hit "White Horse." The unique production includes percussion provided by tongue clicking. "Drop It Like It's Hot" earned Grammy Award nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance By a Duo Or Group.

A year before "Drop It Like It's Hot," Pharrell Williams helped Snoop Dogg put together "Beautiful," his first top 10 pop hit as lead artist in nine years. Then "Drop It Like It's Hot" went all the way to #1 across the pop, R&B, and rap charts. It reached #5 at mainstream pop radio and made an appearance on the Latin airplay chart. The album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta) returned Snoop Dogg to the top 10 of the album chart for the first time in four years.

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06
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5. Robin Thicke - "Blurred Lines" featuring T.I. and Pharrell (2013)

Robin Thicke Blurred Lines
Robin Thicke - "Blurred Lines" featuring T.I. and Pharrell. Courtesy Star Trak

Written by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris, Jr.

Produced by Pharrell Williams

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams created "Blurred Lines" in a deliberate effort to recreate the spirit of Marvin Gaye's classic "Got To Give It Up." Their effort was successful enough it led to legal issues with Gaye's family. Ultimately Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were found guilty of copyright infringement. Nevertheless, "Blurred Lines" was a #1 smash pop hit around the world despite accusations of misogyny in the lyrics.  It spent 12 weeks at the top in the US becoming one of the biggest pop hits of all time. It was Robin Thicke's first top 10 pop hit and was certified six times platinum for sales while topping the adult pop radio chart. It also reached #3 on the dance chart. "Blurred Lines" earned a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year.

The music video directed by Diane Martel was one of the primary targets for criticisms about treatment of women. Amid accusations of objectifying women and supporting rape culture, she said that she was attempting to ridicule efforts by men to overpower women. She said the video forces the men to feel playful and not like predators. A live performance of "Blurred Lines" at the MTV Video Music Awards in a medley with Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" drew even more controversy with a sexually charged performance.

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07
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4. Kelis - "Milkshake" (2003)

Kelis Milkshake
Kelis - "Milkshake". Courtesy Arista

Written by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo

Produced by The Neptunes

Kelis first hit the top 10 on the R&B chart in 1999 with the song "Caught Out There" which was also a project produced by The Neptunes.  However, "Milkshake" became her smash worldwide pop hit.  Kelis says of the song, "A milkshake is the thing that makes women special."  She also said the specific word "milkshake" was something that was suggested on a whim. Many music critics listed the song as one of the top singles of the year, and it peaked at #3 on the US pop chart.  It went to #2 on the UK pop singles chart. "Milkshake" earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Urban Alternative Performance.

The arrangement of "Milkshake" includes exotic instrumentation. The primary beat is provided by a Middle Eastern drum called a darbuka. The sound of manjira cymbals is also heard throughout the song. Jake Nava directed the "Milkshake" music video. Rapper Nas portrays a cook delivering milkshakes to customers while Kelis dances.

 

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08
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3. Daft Punk - "Get Lucky" featuring Pharrell Williams (2013)

Daft Punk Get Lucky
Daft Punk - "Get Lucky" featuring Pharrell Williams. Courtesy Columbia

Written by Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Pharrell Williams, and Nile Rodgers

Produced by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo

It took 18 months for Daft Punk to complete the recording of "Get Lucky." When he heard about Daft Punk working with disco legend Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams asked to be included in the project.  His lead vocals received strong critical acclaim and were painstakingly recorded in multiple takes.  The song was a #2 hit in the US and #1 on pop charts around the world. "Get Lucky" was Daft Punk's pop chart breakthrough in the US and singlehandedly brought disco music back to the mainstream spotlight. It earned Grammy Awards for Record Of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Stevie Wonder joined Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers, and Pharrell Williams for a live performance of "Get Lucky" at the Grammy Awards ceremony.

"Get Lucky" was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York where Nile Rodgers recorded the first Chic single in the 1970s. Pharrell Williams jokingly offered to just play tambourine on the record. He was previously involved with Daft Punk when he created a remix of their single "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." The Daft Punk album Random Access Memories that includes "Get Lucky" was also a smash hit reaching #1 on the album chart and earning a platinum certification.

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09
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2. Gwen Stefani - "Hollaback Girl" (2005)

Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl
Gwen Stefani - "Hollaback Girl". Courtesy Interscope

Written by Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, and Chad Hugo

Produced by The Neptunes

"Hollaback Girl" originated with a comment made by Courtney Love in an interview for Seventeen magazine where she referred to Gwen Stefani as a "cheerleader."  Gwen Stefani's response was to be a cheerleader in song and, "rule the whole world."  The song was created deliberately to express attitude.  While writing "Hollaback Girl" with Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani was initially concerned that fans of her group No Doubt might be disturbed by this musical change of direction. Ultimately she decided the song felt right. "Hollaback Girl" became a #1 pop smash in the US and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Record Of the Year. It reached #8 in the UK and top 10 in many other countries.

The accompanying music video was directed by Paul Hunter and was filmed in the Van Nuys and Reseda neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls dancers are featured in the clip. Pharrell Williams makes a cameo appearance. The video earned four nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards and won for Best Choreography.

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10
of 10

1. Pharrell Williams - "Happy" (2013)

Pharrell Williams - Happy
Pharrell Williams - "Happy". Courtesy Back Lot

Written by Pharrell Williams

Produced by Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams wrote songs for both animated films Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2.  "Happy" from the second film touched a chord in listeners and turned into Pharrell Williams' first #1 pop hit in the US as lead artist.  It earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song and a live recording of "Happy" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance. "Happy" is included on Pharrell Williams' second solo album . "Happy" spent 10 weeks at #1 in the US and four weeks at the top in the UK. It was also a success across other charts reaching #1 at both adult pop and adult contemporary radio. "Happy" reached #14 on the dance club chart and topped the R&B singles chart. In September 2014 "Happy" became the most downloaded song of all time in the UK.

Pharrell Williams created a unique 24-hour music video for "Happy." It was directed by the French team We Are From LA and included Yoann Lemoine, known for work with Lana Del Rey and Katy Perry, as creative director. The four-minute song is repeated 360 times in the 24 hours of film. Pharrell Williams appears 24 times at the start of each hour. Among the celebrities appearing are Jimmy Kimmel, Magic Johnson, Jamie Foxx, and Kelly Osbourne. The official four-minute edited version of the music video earned a nomination for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.

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