Pharrell’s “Happy” as a Brainwashing Sequel to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

It’s one of those songs that’s always on–you just can’t shake it. Even though Pharrell Williams’ annoying urging to “clap along if you think happiness is the truth” came out in late 2013 as part of the Despicable Me 2 Soundtrack (an ironic pairing considering the word “despicable” is not something one associates with “happy”), it hasn’t stopped playing on repeat in every public area since.

Still from "Happy" video
Still from “Happy” video
With the release of Pharrell’s second solo album, G I R L, in March, “Happy” received an unnecessary resuscitation as it was also put on this record in addition to the accursed Despicable Me 2 Soundtrack–because that’s what labels like Columbia are wont to do: get the most out of a single’s chart performance by releasing it multiple times.
The first 24 hour music video
The first 24 hour music video
The music video is at least slightly less irritating than Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (remember Robin Williams prancing around in it?), though not without its fair share of vexations. Deemed the first “24-hour music video,” which, yes, is literally what it sounds like–twenty-four hours long–“Happy” starts to get more than a little obnoxious after said length of time, even with the many celebrity cameos.
Video still from 1988's "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Video still from 1988’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”
Plus, where Bobby McFerrin seems more motivational and not nearly as self-righteous, Pharrell sings some rather self-aggrandizing lyrics like, “Can’t bring me down/My level’s too high.” What is more, people aren’t doing nearly enough cocaine as they were in the 80s to be able to deal with Pharrell’s attempt at brainwashing us into being happy “just because.”