Pharrell Williams titled his forthcoming album G I R L for reasons beyond drawing attention with all caps and making life difficult for copy editors. The "Happy" singer wants to make people feel a bit weird about the title, because it's rooted in a good deal of feminism.
Talking with BBC Radio 1, Pharrell expressed a love of women and said that he wanted to draw attention to that love through the title of his next album.
"The reason why I named it G I R L in capital letters," Williams said, "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."
Pharrell continued, attributing no small amount of his success to contributions from women in both the professional and personal areas of his life.
"Women have been so good to me over this entire career," Pharrell 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."
Pharrell's comments may come as a surprise to some, as the platinum-selling artist spent many an interview last year deflecting accusations of sexism. Williams' collaboration with singer Robin Thicke on the single "Blurred Lines" and the racy accompanying video got the Feminet all atwitter, with some calling the lyrics "rapey" and the video – which featured Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I. cavorting with topless models – sexist.
The charge against Williams was that the video objectified women, as the models were dancing about half naked while Pharrell and the other males wore suits. Pharrell resisted the accusation then, and his new statements regarding G I R L follow in that vein.
"To me, there's an unbalance in the world," Williams said. "But I needed to make sure that everyone knew that... I do look and I do like them and I do appreciate them in my dirty little ways... but at the core... is a deeper appreciation."
That appreciation permeates the entire work, according to Pharrell.
"When you cut this album open, that's what comes out."
Speaking of things coming out surrounding G I R L, the tracklist for Pharrell's newest has already leaked on Jermaine Hall's Instagram account, revealing a 10-track work. It will, of course, include the ebola-like-in-its-infectiousness "Happy," from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. Guest-starring on the new album will be Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keyes, Daft Punk, and Justin Timberlake. Following a Columbia Records listening session, Vibe said that Timberlake and Pharrell's voices "seemingly melt into each other," but we're still not convinced that the tune doesn't culminate in a forty-second falsetto-off. Also unclear: how a Justin Timberlake-Pharrell Williams collaboration does not feature a Jay-Z appearance in the middle.
The new album drops in the first week of March, and Pharrell thinks it is his best work yet. Pharrell has been in the business for 20 years, with a hand in three different chart-toppers by three different artists over the past year, so that may be saying quite a bit.