x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Success and acclaim on the Pharrell side of the street

The 40-year-old has seven nominations, tied in second place with Daft Punk, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar.

Pharrell Williams has seven Grammy nominations this year. Kevin Winter / Getty Images for BET / AFP
Pharrell Williams has seven Grammy nominations this year. Kevin Winter / Getty Images for BET / AFP

If there is one musician heading into Sunday’s Grammy Awards on a massive wave of success, it’s Pharrell Williams.

Just last week the producer-­rapper-singer was nominated for another award, this time a Best Original Song ­Oscar for his extremely catchy tune Happy, from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.

“Uh, speechless,” Pharrell says. “Man, I am over the moon.”

Pharrell even wrote a speech thanking select radio stations for playing the upbeat song, which is a No 1 hit in the UK, Australia, Ireland, France, Germany and Switzerland and on heavy rotation in the UAE.

The Oscar nomination is another highlight among many for the artist: he was the producer of two of 2013’s biggest anthems – Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. Both songs are nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the Grammys.

The 40-year-old Pharrell has seven nominations, tied in second place with Daft Punk, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar. Jay Z, the Grammy leader, has nine nominations.

Pharrell’s also up for Producer of the Year and has two nominations for Album of the Year for producing the albums by Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar.

He says the success of Happy nicely ties together all of his achievements, adding that he was meticulous about getting the song right – recording it nine times before nailing it.

His competition for the Oscar includes U2’s Ordinary Love from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which won a Golden Globe, and the Top 40 hit Let It Go from the Frozen soundtrack. Other nominees are The Moon Song by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for Spike Jonze’s Her and Alone Yet Not Alone by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiege.

“I used to stare at the TV as a child watching your actors and favourite actresses take it home,” Pharrell says of attending the Oscars. “That’s where Jack Nicholson stands or the guy that I look up to majorly, Wes Anderson. That’s where his work is considered. I cannot believe we get to go.”

Pharrell has produced hits for Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Jay Z. He’s in the studio working with Ed Sheeran, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Kendrick Lamar and Jennifer Nettles, and scoring the forthcoming Spider-Man film with Hans Zimmer. He recently signed with Columbia Records – home to Beyoncé, Adele and One Direction – and will release an album this year.

“It’s some of my best work and that’s because in the process I made it with my eyes closed,” he says. “That’s not a reflection of any sort of superiority in any way, shape or form. I didn’t do a lot of looking around to try to figure it out. I just closed my eyes and made it by feeling it and I think that’s why I am most proud of it.”

Pharrell will open for Bruno Mars on selected dates of the North America leg of his world tour, which will kick off on April 18 in Honolulu. “Can’t wait to go out and make a cool moment with the ladies on the road,” he says.

• The Grammys are on Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Academy Awards take place on March 2 in Hollywood

artslife@thenational.ae