Pharrell opens his G I R L album with a cinematic suite of opulent strings composed with film composer and personal hero Hans Zimmer and played by a 30-piece orchestra. The pair previously worked together when they scored the 2012 Academy Awards and also collaborated on the 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie.
The extended string reveille leads into this song, in which Pharrell dismisses famous women including Marilyn Monroe, Cleopatra and Joan of Arc, in favor of a girl who is "different."
He explained at the album's listening party that his intention was to write a tune that said that ideals of feminine beauty are redundant. "You don't have to be a certain weight, a certain height," Pharrell said. "For me, she doesn't have to be the statuesque American standard of what beauty is."
Pharrell explained the song's lyrical content to The Sun: "I called the song Marilyn Munro because she was beautiful. Then the lyrics name check Joan of Arc because she was heroic, and Cleopatra was wise. Women don't have to be any of that to be beautiful. You can just be your own thing."
"Most things one day will never lose their value," he continued. "Women never do. They are unique and individual. I love women and often admired their eyes, lips and other features of their bodies in a sometimes suggestive way."
"But I respect and hold what would be called 'a feminist view' too," he added. "I want to spread the message of the pertinence of women on this planet. It calls for the equivocation of women in society."
The song also functions almost as a title track, as there's a coda where Pharrell chants 'G I R L.' "The reason why I named it G I R L in capital letters is because when you look at it, it looks a little weird. And the reason why it does is because society is a little unbalanced," Williams told BBC Radio 1.
Skateboard P added that also wanted to show off his appreciation for women and all that they have done to contribute to his success with the album title. "Women have been so good to me over this entire career and they've done so much for my family," he explained. "Everything I've ever gotten is because they've paid for [it], so they're, like, my bosses — indirectly and directly — you guys are like my bosses. So for me, I wanted to analyze that for a second. We need them. Every human being has come through those silver-lined doors."
Pharrell Williams performed the song on the April 5, 2014 episode of Saturday Night Live
backed by an all-female orchestra with Hans Zimmer. Williams explained to the audience the girl power song is about self-love and self-worth. He also performed his hit single "Happy
" on the same show.
Kelly Osbourne provides spoken backing vocals on the song. She also pops up in the video with a bow in hand.