Pharrell Williams' Happy Hat Journey
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because some of the best music you’ve heard in the last year came from the soul of one man. Clap for him.
By Datwon Thomas
The hottest hit maker of the moment, music producer Pharrell Williams, has always donned a cool hat.
There were the foam front and netted back trucker hats from his days with alternative rock/rap hybrid group N.E.R.D. There were the fitted BAPE baseball caps, the knitted skullys he wore pulled down snug over his temples. Hats and “Skateboard P” go well together. And though those looks might sing more 1990s or 2000s, Williams hasn’t let his dome go uncovered with his latest headwear hookup. Somehow he has managed to take what looks like an Old West staple — the 10-gallon skimmer — and stretch it out to resemble the logo of the fast food chain Arby’s.
The hat got its first glimpse of stardom on this year’s Grammy Awards red carpet, where Williams was nominated for seven gold gramophones and walked away with four. He paired the brown wide-brimmed hat with a fire-engine-red Adidas track jacket, dark denims and brown boots. Totally a cool ‘fit for a night with the boys, but maybe not for the biggest night in music. But Williams being Williams, his flair made the fashion statement of the year.
When it came time to perform “Happy,” the Hat re-emerged, this time in jet black…
So it was no surprise that he was holding the coveted Producer of the Year Grammy by the end of that glorious night. Being nominated a few weeks later by the Academy Awards board for Best Original Song for Despicable Me 2 was the shocker.
While the songs by Daft Punk and Robin Thicke dominated radio and the Internet over the summer and into the fall, Williams’ ditty “Happy” was quickly climbing the charts. The feel-good track spawned a new video concept when Williams created the first 24-hour live music video last November.
Already basking in the glow of an incredible run, Williams was next tapped by the NBA to perform at halftime during the 2014 All-Star game. Bringing his music buddies, Nelly, Busta Rhymes and Diddy, Williams tore the roof off the place — and, of course, the Hat came out with him as he performed.
Then came the Oscars. As Williams and his lovely wife, Helen, walked the red carpet, there was no sight of the Hat. Just Williams decked out in a tuxedo … with shorts. He had to make some type of statement — and he did it with his bare legs. Yet when it came time for him to perform “Happy,” the Hat re-emerged, this time in jet black. More than 40 million viewers got a look at it, as it shone in the spotlight it deserved while he danced with nominees Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.
And though Williams didn’t win the golden statue, he won hearts around the world, and that has catapulted “Happy” to the number one spot on Billboard’s charts. (He’s also the first black artist in the top spot in over 14 months — more history-making.) Watch the Oscars’ best set of the night.
You have the cat in the Hat to thank for that.