Sound Check: ;Pharrell Williams
Having a Bad, Bad Day:Music ofDespicable MeIn the past several years, Grammy Award-winning artist Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes and N.E.R.D. has written and produced for such block- buster global musicians as Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Madonna, Kanye West and Shakira. In 2009, Billboard magazine named The Neptunes producers of the decade, and Williams and his collaborators have played an enormous role in shaping the culture of the music landscape. Naturally, the next step for the artist was to explore the interplay between music and movies.Williams has been interested in scoring music for feature films for some time, and he became more eager to work in this realm after observing Jack Johnson's musical involvement in creating the best- selling soundtrack to Universal's animated Curious George. Williams expressed his interest to friend and music supervisor KATHY NELSON. He remembers: "I told Kathy that the very next time something comes your way, you call me and let me know what it is. She said, 'Pharrell, I really like you, but I'm not going to just give you anything.I'm going call you when it's the right thing.' And I got the call for Despicable Me."A longtime anima- tion fan, Williams was eager to take on the challenge of crafting original songs and themes for his f irst film. "What I like about the philosophy onthe filmmakers don't make children's films. They make films for humans that use some of the tricks and treats of youthful entertainment, but at the same time, there's an amazing storyline."Though the task of scoring his first feature seemed daunting, Williams was grateful that he was surrounded by Academy Award® winner Hans Zimmer as the film's music producer and skilled guitarist Heitor Pereira as fellow composer. Says producer Meledandri: "The moment that we showed Pharrell the imagery, it took him about 30 minutes to say, 'I'll work on this film in any way possible.' He was immediately struck by the character designs and the notion of the story; his enthusiasm never waned."Pharrell, like our directors, took on the challenge of doing something that he had never done before; this is the first time he's scoredafeature film," Meledandri continues. "We knew that there was going to be an opportunity in the film for a number of songs that would be used as song score. What's resulted from his songs is a group of musical themes that he's worked on with the talented Heitor Pereira and legendary Hans Zimmer."Williams' collaboration with Pereira began as Williams watched preliminary footage of the film and then created musical ideas he thought would fit into each sequence. Pereira would then expand upon some of Williams' ideas and come up with additional creative works. On working with Pereira, Williams says: "Heitor took those pieces and songs, and he connected the dots. He is the glue in this house of cards. He scored some incredible scenes and embel- lished some of the scenes that I scored and took those to the next level."Williams composed several original songs for the film, including the title track, "Despicable Me." The artist was inspired by the whimsical narrative of the lyrics from Annie, and he wanted to write lyrics that were as kid-friendly as that musical, but also as moody as Gru's character. He elaborates: "I've never made a song about having a bad day and being in a super bad mood. So I thought I would make it really fun but, at the same time, if you were to hear it without the lyrics, it would sound like this track that you'd want to hear coming out of someone's truck."
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