A Pharrell Williams Playlist

In 2001 HBO aired a Britney Spears concert around the time Jive Records released the singer’s album Britney. A few days before the first promo for the concert was to run on HBO, Jive’s head of publicity had the idea that Britney’s then-brand new single “I’m a Slave 4 U” should be used in the promo spots. The song was written (and produced) by the team of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. I was running the licensing department at Jive at that time. I went to Pharrell and Chad’s publishers, EMI, to secure the necessary permissions. It was on a Wednesday. The spot was scheduled to premier the coming Saturday. The person at EMI with whom I spoke told me the song is so new that it is not yet in their system, and therefore she couldn’t license it. “Can’t you just add it to your system? You know they’re signed to your company.” “No. You won’t be able to use the song.”

Oh, really? A song cannot be licensed simply because someone at that company can’t think outside the box and figure out a way to effect the deal before the usual ingestion process is complete? That explanation doesn’t work for me. EMI will forego a license fee if the song isn’t used, which is fine, as their employee is the one not allowing it. Also, standing to forego revenue? Pharrell and Chad, who rely on EMI to make the deals for their music so they can get paid.

I called the Jive executive who paired Pharrell and Chad with Britney and told him EMI’s stance. He called Pharrell and/or Chad. Pharrell and/or Chad called EMI. On Thursday I got EMI’s approval to proceed. Don’t tell me something can’t be done.

Producer/Songwriter/NERD Pharrell Williams turns 47 today. In his honor I present to you this playlist of thirty songs Pharrell, often with Chad Hugo, had a hand in writing and/or producing and/or performing. You may be surprised at how many of these you know.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter.

Follow me on Instagram.

Throwback Thursday: 1988

Nineteen eighty eight was, on the US pop music chart, one of those in-between years. The “New Wave” British invasion had greatly subsided and England wasn’t as much of a presence on the charts as it was a few years earlier. Rap was increasing in popularity and hitting the top 40 more frequently, though it was still a far cry from the dominant position it holds today. Of the hip hop song’s on today’s playlist, only two made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 – LL Cool J’s “Goin’ Back to Cali,” which peaked at #31, despite selling a million copies, and Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two,” which peaked at #36, despite selling two million copies. Alternative music lived up to its genre name as an alternative to the music on the pop chart, so if you wanted to hear Sonic Youth or The Dead Milkmen or The Primitives, you had to tune into college radio or the stations on the left side of your FM dial. Those artists, alongside U2, R.E.M. and INXS, could be found on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart, which premiered in September of 1988. New Jack Swing tracks from artists such as Keith Sweat remained popular on Black radio and crossed over, while Black artists such as Tracy Chapman and Living Colour failed to make much of an impression on Black radio. So-called Hair Metal was a presence on the pop chart; grunge would help fix that in a few years. Configuration-wise, CDs outsold vinyl LPs for the first time in 1988, though cassettes outsold both.

Here are thirty of 1988’s finest:

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter.

Follow me on Instagram.

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (7-11-20)

Inspired by the July 11 birthdays of Suzanne Vega, Lil’ Kim, The Paragons’ John Holt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff Hanna, Peter Brown, Red Peters, Bonnie Pointer, Thurston Harris, Peter Murphy, Andrew Bird, the Murmurs’ Leisha Hailey, and Mel & Kim’s Mel Appleby; and the July 10 birthdays of Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, Mavis Staples, Arlo Guthrie, John Whitehead and Eileen Rodgers.

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (7-3-20)

Inspired by the July 3 birthdays of Erasure’s/Yaz’s Vince Clarke, Laura Branigan, Heatwave’s Johnny Wilder Jr., Elle King, Fontella Bass, Johnny Lee, Betty Buckley and The Seekers’ Judith Durham, and the July 2 birthdays of The Temptations’ Paul Williams, Vince Staples, Justice’s Xavier de Rosnay, Monie Love, Saweetie, Burna Boy and Michelle Branch.

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (6-5-20)

Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, the June 5 birthdays of The Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler, Badfinger’s Tom Evans, Ronnie Dyson, Laurie Anderson, Aesop Rock, Marky Mark, and Cherish’s Felisha and Fallon King; and the June 4 birthdays of The Mamas and the Papas’ Michelle Phillips, Freddy Fender, Peter & Gordon’s Gordon Waller, El DeBarge and Devin the Dude.