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24 Hours of Happy

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.)

But "Happy" is much more than that, because there's "24 Hours of Happy".

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.


About the Author

Luke Hill is a writer and community organizer in Boston. He blogs at dotCommonweal and MassCommons. 



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Gotta say this is pretty mediocre. There's no questioning his influence (let alone his ubiquity), but, man, I didn't think any of the stuff he did this Summer was all that good.

Here's someone who's NOT happy, but used that higher-register pop sound to somewhat better effect.

I do like Pharrell Williams' retro PeeWee Herman look, though. 

And I loved it.  It's probably all the people dancing but I just loved this video.   Thanks for posting it.

If you really want some pop confection at a higher register, complete with happy-making dancing, here you go:

Abe, love that segment in hell. On the other hand, this one is just pure hell:

I enjoyed a couple of minutes of it, but musically it's really pretty thin. Can't imagine what the camera people did to get rid of the ear worm after assembling twenty-four hours' worth! Sanctification? Not persuaded.

I learned an expression this summer that seems to fit (a desparaging tag for the "praise music" so popular right now in some churches): "Seven-Eleven" music -- the same seven notes sung eleven times. 

As for celebrating a city with clips of people lip synching a song through all neighborhoods, that has already been done (and at least with a more interesting song): Grand Rapids, and Bye Bye Miss American Pie.

Abe, no way I can top that.

Rita, loved the Grand Rapids lip dub video. Raber was born and raised there, and we still go back occasionally. Fun to see the old Pantlind Hotel (though it's been the Amway Grand for decades) and other downtown high spots. Also nice effort on the part of the city to play up the ethnic diversity of the city. 

Jean, nothing tops Sunn 0)))

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