Pharrell Williams’s 24-Hour Music Video: Your Happiness May Vary
It is a cold, overcast, rainy day in Los Angeles today, so when Rembert Browne sent me a link to a website called 24hoursofhappy.com, which turned out to be “The world’s first 24 hour music video,” brought to us by none other than arguable 2013 pop-cultural MVP Pharrell Williams, I was like All right, let’s do this. I tuned in at about 10 a.m. PT to an elderly man cha-chaing for bemused onlookers outside Los Angeles’s Union Station on a blindingly sunny day in a steady tracking shot that was definitely not live. There were no cuts; it was clear we were just going to watch this guy get down. “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you,” sang Pharrell. “Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do.” I was not quite there yet, so I refrained, but I kept watching, intrigued, as the old man was soon replaced by a woman in sunglasses.
I like amateur dancing. I like pure, unrehearsed expressions of joy. I like walking and grooving to a good song. Sometimes I have to physically restrain myself from doing jazz hands when I’m on a hike. But as the song kept repeating and the dancers kept coming I started to feel a sense of claustrophobia creeping in. “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.” Funny you should say that, P, I think my walls are actually closing in around me like a trash compactor. “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” I mean, yes? No? The truth? I don’t know anymore! What am I being sold? Surely I am being sold something! I started to grow frustrated with myself as the minutes ticked by on the happiness clock. Why can’t I relax and bask in the Day-Glo optimism of Skateboard P’s audiovisual victory lap at the end of a year he clearly won? Why am I psshing at his hard-earned joy? Do I hate winners?
I think I hate winners. I think that’s it. I hate winners and I love John Goodman. ’Cause I just checked and … yeah, this still does the trick. I’m happy.