As I discussed in my most recent column, last week marked the first-ever iHeartRadio Music Awards, and with it a tandem of new trophies and topics to be seen and heard.
I strategically omitted the biggest award given at the show, the Innovator Award, and with this follow-up effort I will indulge you on why this person is the epitome of just that.
I guess in music—or any topic really—there are hoards and threads and countless lineages of top-notch people who could have been, or are, considered an “innovator.” Music is about creating your own visions and telling your own story, after all.
But we usually reserve these big awards for generation awards for seasoned figures and game changers that even your parents grew up knowing and admiring. The Rita Moreno’s, Michael Jackson’s and Madonna’s of the world.
A true innovator, though, really can be anyone. Someone who introduces new ideas and ways, whether its taking music in a completely different direction than what’s on the radio or showing the world it’s OK for a 41-year-old man to like SpongeBob SquarePants.
I think if the iHeartRadio Awards hit one nail on the head, it’s honoring Pharrell Williams as the first-ever Innovator Award recipient.
It’s not just that Pharrell has always been this amazing one man show, but he takes risks and more than ever right now he’s at the height of recognition in his career. Literally everything he is touching is turning to record gold.
Some can snuff and ask what he’s done to deserve such an accolade, and the truth is, quite frankly, a lot. Sure you know his face from the countless catchy tunes that come from his falsetto, but below the surface he’s present even more.
He plays four instruments, he designs fashion, he skateboards, he wears tuxedos with shorts and better than all of that, he writes and produces behind the scenes for the biggest names in the business.
He began his career on the East Coast hip-hop scene, but he’s easily transitioned through the years over to pop, R&B, funk, rock and everything in between.
And now plenty are jumping on the Pharrell bandwagon (which has been chugging down the path to success since the early ’90s).
There’s no way you haven’t heard the song Happy, and there’s no way that it didn’t make you happy.
Furthermore, he was featured and behind two of the most explosive and overplayed songs of the year, Blurred Lines and Get Lucky. From Robin Thicke to Daft Punk, he’s clearly someone that everyone wants to work with.
He’s rapped with Snoop Dog and Kanye West, written songs for Gwen Stefani and Adam Lambert, produced for Beyonce and Shakira and sang and performed with all of the above and more in every genre imaginable.
Now, he’s taking over for CeeLo on The Voice next season, another decision that was right on the money and couldn’t have come at a better time in his career or the shows tenure.
Who wouldn’t want to be on a team of someone with a career as impressive as his? He’s more than just a performer; he’s a teacher, a quality that needs to be at the forefront of any coach’s repertoire.
Probably more impressive than all of the credentials, though, is how he’s thought of in the music business.
He’s everyone’s little brother, even though he’s well older than most (though he doesn’t look it) and he’s not going to try to throw money on a performance or overdress to make a statement, he’s just going to show up in his skinny jeans, sneakers and 10-gallon hat and be the most mesmerizing person in the room.
Rewind back to those celebrity tribute clips I spoke of that I loved so much at the iHeartRadio Awards.
Artists like Usher, Rita Ora, Beyonce, Aloe Blacc, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, John Legend and Oprah couldn’t help put pour out loving words, describing Pharrell as everything from “a genius” to “always one step ahead of the game” to “a walking God.”
“He’s the person who made it cool to just be you,” Beyonce said.
With a career and backing as impressive as his, and no intentions of stopping soon, its pretty obvious Pharrell has plenty to be “Happy” about.
Caitlin Rickard is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.