1. Mariah Carey feat. Snopp Dogg “Say Something”
Carey’s comeback album The Emancipation of Mimi had plenty of hits, not least mega-ballad “We Belong Together”. One of the album highlights was this cut produced by The Neptunes, of which Pharrell is one half of, which sadly underperformed as a single. It’s a shame as it’s slinky, up-tempo and the video features Snoop, Pharrell and Vogue’s André Leon Talley having fun with Mimi in Paris.
2. Shakira “Did It Again”
The Neptunes worked on a large chunk of Shakira’s underrated 8th album She Wolf back in 2009. Despite the huge success of the title track the rest of the album’s singles didn’t fare quite as well. That includes the 2nd lifted from the album “Did It Again”, a melancholic and hook-driven number that deserved to chart a lot better than it did.
3. Adam Lambert “Kickin’ In”
Lambert’s 2012 LP Trespassing featured two stars who’d enjoy a resurgence in 2013. Nile Rodgers plays on the album’s title track and Pharrell provides one of his best pop productions in years on “Kickin’ In”. A whirling, head-spinning ode to a debauched night out, it gives Lambert a dose of much-needed cool and it’s a reminder of how Pharrell does songs that are both full of strange ideas and pop-driven moments.
4. Madonna feat. Kanye West “Beat Goes On”
Madonna’s 2008 foray into pop R&B with Hard Candy was met with mixed responses at the time despite some enjoyable moments. The Neptunes contributed to a number of songs on the album including the single “Give It 2 Me” which sounds like a precursor to Blurred Lines. Of all the tracks Pharrell and co. contributed Beat Goes On is the standout. It’s got xylophones, a bouncy disco beat and plenty of charm. Throw in a cameo from Kanye West and it’s obvious that this would have been a terrific lead single for the Hard Candy project.
5. Leah LaBelle “Lolita”
Between “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky” 2013 was taken up by two very different Pharrell tracks (one that he produced and one that he sang on) so it’s a pity this didn’t get much attention. Signed by Pharrell, LaBelle has built up a new following after her days on American Idol in 2003. On Lolita she gives plenty of attitude and it’s hazy sun-kissed groove wouldn’t have been out place amongst the productions Pharrell served up for Miley’s Bangerz album.
6. N.E.R.D. “Hypnotize U”
Alongside producing hits for a slew of pop names The Netpunes also had their own funk-rock group N.E.R.D with Shay Healy. By 2010 N.E.R.D were gaining less chart attention which is a shame. Before “Get Lucky” swallowed pop in 2013 the French house duo got involved with Pharrell by producing this impressive slab of sexy R&B dance-pop. Pharrell’s sultry voice plays off of a throbbing beat while he whispers all manner of come-ons. It would likely be a massive hit if it were released today.
7. Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull “Fresh Out The Oven”
2011 saw J-Lo on the comeback trail as her and Pitbull scored a chart smash worldwide with “On The Floor”. They’d work together on two more tracks but many have forgotten the first time they paired up in 2009. “Fresh Out The Oven” doesn’t have the anthemic pop cheese magic of their future hits but it’s a sexier, stranger beast gliding over some glitchy R&B touches. Before Pitbull became a party-pop parody of himself this track showed that he and J-Lo could be something special. The Neptunes throw in a curveball as the song breaks down into a weird electro-beat as it closes, the kind of inspired touch you’d expect from a track Pharrell is involved with.
8. Gwen Stefani feat. Pharrell “Yummy”
2004 saw The Neptunes and Gwen Stefani dominate the charts with “Hollaback Girl”. Stefani’s second solo album The Sweet Escape didn’t really land as many hits but it boasted some interesting work from The Neptunes. Yummy, which sees Gwen and Pharrell swap sex-boasts, is the pick of the bunch. It glides by as it piles up sparse instrumentation and kooky lyrics. It’s one of those “Doesn’t work on paper but sounds incredible” tracks that are Pharrell’s forte.
9. Jennifer Hudson feat. T.I. “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel)”
While T.I. and Pharrell were helping to make “Blurred Lines” the inescapable pop hit of last year their work on this stellar track for Jennifer Hudson seemed to go completely unnoticed. It’s got a laidback 70s swing and it’s one of Hudson’s poppiest moments in ages. Hudson oozes warmth over this breezy track which should have gotten a shot at pop glory. Given that Hudson’s third album is due this year, perhaps this will get a proper push. Certainly with Pharrell’s Happy already a number one hit in the UK and moving up the US chart there’s nothing to say this track couldn’t do something similar.
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