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Album Review – Pharrell Williams: Girl

Pharrell Williams is set to take his place on the jury of the ‘The Voice’ in America. It caps a whirlwind 18 months for the 41 year-old singer/producer. Dom Kureen pays homage by sharing his opinion of the white-hot maestro’s latest solo album, ‘Girl.’

Pharrell Williams 2

For Pharrell Williams 2013 was something of an annus mirabilis. Collaborating with the likes of Daft Punk, Robin Thicke and Azealia Banks ensured that the former Neptunes and N.E.R.D front man rarely drifted from the spotlight.

Eight years after hitting the solo scene with the widely panned ‘In My Mind,’ the ageless star launched his follow-up LP having morphed into a bonafide A-lister during the interim, with ‘Girl’ reaching the summit of the album charts in no fewer than eleven countries.

Striding into earshot with the typically addictive strains of ‘Marilyn Monroe’, a recent single release, it’s clear from the outset that fans are in for an annoyingly catchy stroll along melody lane. The casting of Kelly Osborne for background vocals provides an unexpectedly inspired addition to the track.

The steamy silhouette spawned by ‘Gush’ leaves little to the imagination, with dirty beats and suggestive lyrics that only cease during a synthesised string-dominated bridge that temporarily alleviates the steaminess.

‘Happy’, part of the ‘Despicable Me 2′ soundtrack, has been a staple of radio waves and YouTube videos during the past couple of months, yet remains the album’s inspirative calling card, temporarily transforming Williams’ sweet counter-tenor into a decadent slice of Cee Lo Green.

Also noteworthy is the tightly hooked ‘Gust of Wind,’ a composition boosted by the unmistakable accent of French electro duo Daft Punk. Recounting a self-effacing tale of romance, this surely warrants a single release.

Amongst the easily absorbed harmonies are inevitably a couple of self-indulgent miscues.

‘Lost Queen’ is an absurdly dull love letter that rarely advances beyond glorified artist ejaculation and is little more than the gristle on the pork chop.

‘Brand New’ is a notch or two superior, although the inclusion of Justin Timberlake serves only to accentuate the shortcomings in Williams’ falsetto by placing him alongside a more sophisticated practitioner.

A-lister: Pharrell has made huge strides since N*E*R*D.
A-lister: Pharrell Williams has made huge strides since N*E*R*D.

Even with those two unnecessary additions, there’s enough variety dispersed over the eleven tracks to make ‘Girl’ a worthwhile purchase.

If you’re not a fan of this tweak of direction, there are hints of Pharrell’s former life as a Neptune in ‘Hunter’, a song which flagrantly borrows its baseline from Diana Ross and contains an almost identically laid out rap interlude to Debbie Harrie’s ‘Rapture’ confabulate.

An album most notable for threaded sexual undertones and elaborate orchestration (credit for the latter goes to master composer Hans Zimmer,) ‘Girl’ delivers a decent, if not superlative, addition to the singer’s ever expanding body of work.

  Pharrell’s bandwagon continues apace, with another worthwhile release.

 

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

6 feats sports fans are hoping to see

Neil Robertson became the first professional snooker player to make a century of century breaks in a single season last weekend, when the world number one vanquished Judd Trump in his quarter-final match at this year’s World Championships.

Dom Kureen takes a look at half a dozen other feats sports fans are hoping to see in the near-future.

1. Ryan Giggs reaches 1000 first-team matches for Manchester United (currently: 963)

Ryan Giggs 2
Since snubbing Manchester City for rivals United in 1987 aged 13-year old, Ryan Giggs has gone on to become one of the club’s greatest players of all time, notching up 963 first-team appearances, to easily leave Sir Bobby Charlton’s previous record of 758 trailing in his wake.

Amazingly, at an age when most players have long since hung up their boots, the Welsh maestro remains capable of inspiring his team to unlikely victories, albeit mainly against the lesser lights of Premier League and European football.

How likely is it?
Aged almost 41 years old and with an uncertain future at Old Trafford, Giggsy would seem destined to fall agonisingly shy of the remarkable four figures. Additionally, his current rate of around 20 matches per season would require him to play on until close to 43 to get there.
3/10

2. Serena Williams passes Margaret Court’s 24 women’s singles Grand Slams (currently: 17)
Serena Williams

Bursting onto the professional tennis scene as a teenager, the younger Williams sister soon surpassed the achievements of her legendary sibling, Venus.

The singles slam success began with a 1999 US Open victory at the tender age of 17, followed by a consistent trophy haul until the mid-2000’s, when injuries began to blight her progress. Happily in 2012 she returned to her forceful best, allowing fans to believe that she might be able to overhaul Court’s intimidating collection of majors.

How likely is it?
As with Giggs, Williams Jr has age against her, a relative tennis O.A.P at 32. With eight more slams needed, she will probably require 3-4 years minimum to get there, but knowing Serena and the dearth of credible opponents currently in the female game, she might just do it.
5/10

3. Ronnie O’Sullivan rockets past Stephen Hendry’s 775 century breaks (currently: 747)
Ronnie O'Sullivan

While Neil Robertson’s 100 centuries in a season is a miraculous effort that will probably never be equalled, O’Sullivan has been consistently churning out the tons for decades.

An unpredictable temperament means that ‘The Rocket’ could sulk into retirement at any given moment, but he seems to have belatedly straightened out those issues between the ears and at 38 years of age is playing just about as well as ever.

How likely is it?
Ronnie should get there, probably next season – then he can set his sights on 1000 centuries and eight world titles!
9/10

4. Floyd Mayweather Jr makes it 50 wins in a row to K.O Rocky Marciano’s long standing record of 49-0 (currently: 46-0)

Floyd Mayweather

The current WBA and WBC Welterweight champion is a phenomenon who has fought in five different weight categories over the past two decades.

There will always be dispute amongst some fight fans over where he stands in the all-time list, after ‘Money’ seemingly ducked a bout against Manny Pacquiao in 2010 – The fight everyone wanted to see.

That shouldn’t take the shine off a career that has witnessed the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosely’s defeated and British hopeful, Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, taught a lesson in the art of pugilism.

How likely is it?
A lot depends of Mayweather’s desire to reach that target. He’s saved his money, earns tens of millions per annum in endorsements and has hinted at a full-time transition into promotion. If he wants to get to 50-0 he probably can, particularly with overrated fodder like Amir Khan waiting in the wings.
7/10

5.  Simona de Silvestro becomes the first woman to make the F1 podium.

Simona de Silvestro

Having witnessed de Silvestro record a podium finish in the IndyCar 2013 Grand Prix of Houston, Formula One team Sauber took a punt on the young Swiss driver, snapping her up to a long-term contract, with the aim of getting her into the car for the 2015 season.

Her efforts in testing have been steadily improving and after a successful motor sports career at other levels, there seems little reason why she shouldn’t be able to prosper when facing off against the elite of her profession.

How likely is it?
It remains a long shot. Despite promising results behind the scenes, de Silvestro remains far from the finished article. With time, application and a decent car it’s not impossible.
3/10

6. Usain Bolt runs under 9.5 seconds for the 100m and under 19 seconds for the 200m (Current records: 9.58s and 19.19s)

Usain Bolt

Nobody has ever exhilarated the sprints quite like Usain Bolt, with his zealous celebrations 10 metres before the finish line and exuberant persona.

In 2009 the Jamaican set the current world records at 100 and 200 metres, since then he’s remained the dominant force in both events, without really threatening to shave a millisecond off the quickest times.

How likely is it?
Not likely. Bolt is gradually slowing down (a little bit!) and there’s nobody in the wings who can legally run within a tenth of a second of him at his best. Expect the two current world records to remain untroubled for the foreseeable future.
1/10

What sporting records and feats would you like to witness? Let us know in the comments section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.