Pharrell Williams is arguably the most influential producer in the American music industry. He's also a talented and successful singer, rapper, songwriter and musician.
On first listen, his latest hit song, "Happy", is four minutes of pure pop confection---one written for the soundtrack of Universal Pictures' billion-dollar hit movie Despicable Me 2.
The video is a sweet confection too: shots of Pharrell and seemingly random Angelenos lip-synching and dancing around their city to the song. (Because this is Los Angeles, it also includes celebrities like Kelly Osborne, Magic Johnson and Steve Carell. Because there's a movie tie-in, it includes characters from Despicable Me 2.)
Yes, it's true. A four minute song neatly fits 15 times into one hour. With 24 hours in a day, Pharrell is able to film 360 sequential one-shot takes of the same song. And that's just what he did, creating the world's first 24 hour music video.
Each take is filmed during a different four minute interval of the day. The result is a joyous celebration---and even sanctification---of not just the entire day and night, but also all the spaces in the city that the performers inhabit: sidewalks, parks, art galleries, late-night supermarkets, churches, school hallways and classrooms, back alleys, highway overpasses, train stations, airport terminals, hotel laundry rooms, bowling alleys, hotel ballrooms, truck stops, boxing clubs and....well, you get the idea.
The song and the video are infectious, almost literally so: people in Hong Kong, Paris and Warsaw have filmed their own versions of "Happy", celebrating their own cities and the people who live there. (And there are probably versions from other cities that I didn't locate in my quick search.)
With all the challenges and troubles presented by life in our increasingly complex world, it's nice to have reminders of how that complexity can also be a source of beauty, wonder and awe.