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Pharrell Williams & the 3 riddles of Happy

None of the words in Pharrell Williams’ songs are long or difficult, but there are often a lot of them. If you’re going to sing a cover of Happy, you need to give each word time and space.

Happy needs to feel relaxed and expansive. If you’re racing, blurring and stressing your way through the verse or the bridge, the song’s effortless mood will slide away from you. If English isn’t your first language: please don’t just sing the word happy loudly, every so often. Every word is important to the song.

Pharrell builds and boosts the light, upbeat feel of Happy by choosing and placing each word with precision. How does he fix them into place? We’ll look at his technique for framing the airy vowels, then at the first verse and the bridge. Watch the live video and ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Pharrell adds a sound to the end of most lines. What and why?
  • Where does Pharrell take a breath in the line I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space? And where does he put the stress – hot, air or balloon?
  • What do you hear when he sings Bring me down, can’t nothing? What does the th of nothing sound like? How about the ng?       

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