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N.E.R.D. lead vocalist and Neptunes producer Pharrell Williams wrote and recorded this song for the soundtrack of the 3D computer-animated action comedy film Despicable Me 2
. Williams also penned tunes for the first Despicable Me
flick, including its lead single, "Despicable Me
The song title tied in nicely with the movie's licensing partner McDonald's, which included as a marketing ploy collectable Minion toys (Despicable Me's little yellow henchmen) in its Happy Meals for children.
The song's visual is the world's first ever 24-hour Music video. The clip was directed by the creative duo We Are From L.A. and was filmed entirely on Steady Cam, requiring the crew to walk nearly eight miles per day over the course of 11 days. The visual plays on an all-day loop and follows more than 400 different characters enjoying daily bliss. As well as everyday people dancing through the streets of Los Angeles, we see a host of familiar faces having fun, including Despicable Me 2 stars Steve Carell and Miranda Cosgrove and Williams himself, who appears 24 times. Also showcasing their versions of happy are Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt from Odd Future. Kelly Osbourne, Sérgio Mendes, Ana Ortiz, Issa Rae, Bevy Smith, Magic Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel Steve Martin, Janelle Monáe and Jamie Foxx. And naturally the Minions pop up in the day long promo.
The song plays during a pivotal moment in Despicable Me 2's storyline, and Williams wanted to re-create that feeling with the music video. "Gru, the lead character who's no longer a villain, has fallen in love and feels so much joy he literally dances through the streets," he explained. "That kind of happiness is so infectious; you can't help but smile."
If you have a whole day to kill, you can check out the full version of the video on 24hoursofhappy.com
. There is also a more time-friendly version that clocks in at 4 minutes and 7 seconds.
The song went to #1 on the singles charts in the Netherlands. Its success was partially as a result of radio station 3FM airplay, as well as it featuring in a Transavia commercial.
This was the third UK #1 single in 2013 for Pharrell Williams. The Neptunes producer previously topped the charts on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky
" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines
," with writing credits on both. All three songs sold over a million copes and Williams became only the second artist after the Beatles to appear on three UK million-sellers inside 12 months.
The song featured in a Beats by Dre ad featuring people in different elated states. They included Pharrell himself dancing around the street and rapper Pusha T walking through a record store.
Pharrell told NPR that he created "seven to nine different actual full songs of trying to get that scene right" before coming up with "Happy." He explained: "With 'Happy' I went through everything that I thought was possible in my mind based off of what I understood about Gru and what I thought the people needed in terms of what the studio was looking for, and none of it was working."
"It was only until I was tapped out that I had to ask myself the fundamental question: they're asking for a song that's happy," he continued." They're asking for something where Gru is in a good mood, and that's when I realized that everything I needed was right there. I began to ask myself, 'What does feeling like a good mood feel like?' That's where 'Happy' came from, and that's how that happened. And it would have never happened if the studio wouldn't have kept telling me, 'No, it's not good enough. No, it's not good enough.'"
Pharrell said during a listening party for his G I R L album that for this he attempted to temper his usual fare of "sweat and booty shaking" with a song that would reinforce joy and happiness "relentlessly."
This was the fourth #1 on the Hot 100 for Williams, but his first as a lead artist. He'd previously topped the charts as a featured act on Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot
," Ludacris' "Money Maker
" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines
." Williams also produced and co-wrote two other Hot 100 chart-toppers on which he didn't have an artist billing: Nelly's "Hot In Herre
" and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl
The song was nominated for an Oscar but lost out to the Frozen
number "Let It Go
"Trust me: when they read the results, my face was ... frozen," Pharrell joked to GQ
. "But then I thought about it, and I just decided just to... let it go."
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