2 December 2013

New Article: Top 50 Happy Moments from Pharrell Williams’s 24 Hours of Happiness

happy-pharrell.tiff

Pharrell Williams is “Happy” for 24 Hours.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even know who Pharrell Williams was if it weren’t for the fact that he kinda became the voice of Daft Punk in 2013; he does the lead vocals on both “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” But he’s a musician and producer in his own right (just not in the styles of music to which I normally listen).

But Pharrell did something innovative and exciting and, well, pretty awexome. A week before Thanksgiving he released a video for his new single, “Happy” (for the soundtrack of Despicable Me 2). Thing is, this is a very unusual video: it lasts 24 full hours. For reals. Here’s how it works:

The song “Happy” is just a couple seconds short of 4 minutes long. The whole video consists of a series different “sections,” each of which lasts exactly 4 minutes, over which the song is played. So there are 360 sections total. Most of the sections consist of someone dancing towards a camera that is slowly backing away from them. There are of course variations in number of people and movement of camera (and there are several sections that are all about motor vehicles). Each section usually features a different person than the previous section. Each section is done in one continuous, unbroken take. For the most part each section is linked geographically to the previous section, meaning that it takes up in the same location where the previous section ended. Over the course of the 24 hours of the video, about an 8-mile stretch of Los Angeles is shown. Periodically the video will enter a specific location and linger there for several sections (like a supermarket and a bowling alley, for example).

Also, Pharrell Williams himself shows up in the first section of each hour, so he appears 24 times total for 4 minutes each.

And, yes, I watched all 360 sections of the video. Full disclosure: I didn’t always watch all 4 minutes of each section. If it failed to catch my interest I used the on-screen controls to just skip to the next section. But I have chosen my “Top 50 Sections” of this 24-hour video, and I present them here for you in chronological order. Click on any of the screenshots below to be taken directly to that section. At the bottom of this article I’ll have some more thoughts for you.

  happy-guests.tiff             
                                                                                   

And there you have it, my Top 50 Moments. I promised some more thoughts, and here there are!

I think it is really cool that this thing exists. This is a for-real video that last for-real 24 hours. Nobody has ever done anything quite like this before.

I also really like how amateurish a lot of it feels. Many of these people are not professional dancers. They’re just people moving around and being happy. Since each section was done in just one take, there are some charming flubs as well. That doofus skateboarder who flubs all of his tricks comes instantly to mind, but there are many smaller instances. For example, in Pharrell Williams’s noon section he hands a flower to a little girl all smoove-like, but the little girl immediately drops it! The steadicam work isn’t always spot-on, either. Sometimes the subjects are too dark or out of focus. But this lack of gloss gives a really nice immediacy to the video and makes it all seem much more real.

I really loved the interactions with the innocent bystanders, too. The filmmakers obviously did not tell most of the people they passed what they were doing, so there are some really cool honest reactions from people on the street. Some of seem really into it, and some of them seem incredibly annoyed. This is Los Angeles after all, so people must be kinda used to random film crews running all over the place all the time.

I was rather surprised at the number of special guests who appear in the video. Steve Carell kinda makes sense, seeing as how this is a song from Despicable Me 2 (Steve Carell voices the main character of the movie). But there were a bunch more! If you click the “credits” button you can see who all made this video, and there’s a “Special Guests” section that includes a bunch of names with which I am completely unfamiliar:

happy-guests.tiff

Special Guests.

But I know what Sérgio Mendez and Kelly Osbourne look like and I don’t remember seeing either of them! If you find them, can you send me their timecodes? Thanks!

The whole experience of this video is infectious. The vast majority of the people involved look like they’re having the a great time, and it’s hard not to have your happiness increase while you’re watching them. And I really appreciate how inclusive this video is. There are people of all ages, races, sizes, and abilities in this video (there’s even someone in a wheelchair starring in one section). It seems like a very good cross-section of modern-day Los Angeles is represented in this video.

The song is relatively catchy, but it doesn’t have a lot of variety and is rather repetitive. I guess that kinda works for this video, though, in that it helps all the sections blend together a bit better.

But one of the main things I learned from watching this video is this:

  • Whoever chose the outfits for all the participants really, really, really loves late-1980s fashion.

The end.

Categories: Articles, Music, Videos.

32 thoughts on “New Article: Top 50 Happy Moments from Pharrell Williams’s 24 Hours of Happiness”

  1. Cassie says:

    YAY!

    My favorite Pharrell Williams moment was the one in the church with the choir. Thats the only one that I saw where he looked genuinely excited. I wish I could remember what time it was at.

    Thank you Chris! I didn’t see a lot of these, and now I get to catch up! I’m enjoying your favies!

    1. liz love says:

      If you haven’t found it, it’s the 3pm video

  2. julie says:

    Kelly Osborne is at the 2:51 mark of the 4 minute video.

  3. Manasli says:

    Guy that as you said “does some doofy boxing-like dance” is Urijah Faber (UFC fighter) with his sister.

      1. Steven says:

        You probably did not recognize Faber because he didn’t have cornrows.

      2. Brian says:

        Also worth noting in this segment is the lady to the right that manages to stay in the shot pretty much the whole time, from trying to dance along at first to taking cell phone video later.

  4. Martin J. Flood says:

    I am looking to see if you know, can find out who the brunette woman at 12:24.
    Levi coat, green pants.
    I think she is an actress but have seen her on Youtube doing her dancing.

    1. She looks vaguely familiar, but kind of in a generic way. Sorry, I don’t recognize her.

  5. Derrick says:

    Hello! I’m waaaay late to the party but Kelly Osbourne is in the 1am hour. As are two dudes that come directly after her, I wanted to know about. One White, one Asian. They are GREAT!!! How could they not be on your Top 50 List??? Lol… There’s a girl in a yellow shirt directly after them that is good and another girl that comes after a roller skate lady w/ kids that is one of my favs. The 1am hours is one of the betters. They should’ve gave contact info for all involved. :)

    1. I totally did not recognize Kelly Osbourne with that purple hair! Here she is: http://24hoursofhappy.com/01h27AM

      The two guys after her are a hoot. I think they were about number 51 or 52 on my list (I originally had somewhere near 65 moments and had to whittle the list down). I especially like the bewildered Optimus Prime and Batman cameos: http://24hoursofhappy.com/01h32AM

  6. contest says:

    Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if
    that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    1. Thanks! Links to all my social media profiles are floating at the top-right of my site (at least they should be). I’m angrybeef on Twitter.

  7. Robert Nagle says:

    Wow, I’m putting together a rundown of the Happy Dancers too.

    I won’t claim to have watched all the dance scenes, but I’ve watched a fair number. Interestingly, I don’t think I have enjoyed any of the celeb dances yet, but the amateurs and dancers are all great.

    Hey: some standouts you have missed:
    That cool blonde chick at 9:56AM (my fave) and that short hand-jiving girl at 3:36AM (wow!) Also, I was a big fan of the Asian Gene Kelley at 1:28 PM and short guy in yellow reflective vest 9:32 PM

    1. Oh yeah! Wow, I just did not recognize him for some reason.

  8. Robert Nagle says:

    Another thing. Did you notice how often the glare of the sun interfered with the 3 PM vids? For example, I’m sure the 3:36 dancer is cute and good, but I can’t see her. So much for cinema verite….

    1. Yeah, I only included one segment from that entire hour because of that.

  9. Kay says:

    Thanks for doing this! Some of the dancers in the 12:00 PM hour are dancing in the North Highland area (I had a friend who lived in the neighborhood.)

    At 12:32:51, you can see Orisservice.com, which is at 1301 North Highland.

    The 12:36 PM segment is taking place around Lexington and Highland in Hollywood. At 12:36:33, you can see the dancer in front of the Perry Rubenstein (P/R) Gallery at 1215 North Highland.

    http://www.perryrubenstein.com/

    At 12:44:57, the gentleman is passing Crest Digital (1000 North Highland).

    Can anyone identify Asian Fred Astaire in Union Station? He’s a fabulous dancer, and I wonder how long it took to rehearse what’s obviously a highly choreographed segment between the dancer and the steadycam operator. It’s amazing that it’s a single take.

  10. Heather says:

    Thank you for including me “Snowflake” (roller dancer) and my friends Kathryn Burns (boxer/dancer), Monica Moskatow (Bollywood dancer), Minn Vo and Jonathan Redavid (two dancers in tuxedos)! That’s so cool!!! :)

  11. Monica Moskatow says:

    Thank you so much for including me in this! (Bollywood Dancer in Riverbed). I’m very “Happy” that you enjoyed all our dancing and appreciated the candidness of it all.

    Best,
    Monica Moskatow

    1. I’m very Happy that you found my li’l website! I really enjoyed that Bollywood routine.

  12. Ambrose says:

    The young guy at 3:52 PM is absolutely poetry in motion…fluid (almost boneless), incredible musicality to his movements, fun, energized and so elegant. And in a crematorium…vibrant life amongst the ashes of departed. This is a bit of brilliance!!! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to react and above all thank you Pharrell and thank you 3:52 PM guy.

  13. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the list! The goofy bald guy with his leg in a cast http://24hoursofhappy.com/11h18am is brilliant physical comedian Nathan Barnette, here doing his Trale Lewouse character. We were fans of his before we’d heard of Pharrell! https://www.youtube.com/user/nathanjbarnatt

  14. Shannon says:

    Ok, Nathan *Barnatt*. Guess if I bring him up, I should get his name right.

  15. Charles says:

    At 12 Noon and 28:06 there is a little girl that is Killer Good, I was wondering if she is a professional dancer as I think she appears onstage with Pharrell in his Oscar performance of the song in March. Also, the Gorgeous strawberry blond who appears at 36:02 kind of looks like an actress, but I am not sure. She is Breathtaking and I would love to know who she is. Thanks for any information you can find out, and thanks for the Article!

  16. Christina says:

    Of you hadn’t caught it yet the three boys you state “ride a broom” are odd future. The one in the middle is tyler the creator (that’s his rap name “Tyler The Creator”)

  17. Constance says:

    Late to the party. In the 10 AM hour, at about 41: 25 the dancer spies a guy with a cat on his head. He appears in most of the remaining hour watching the dancing.

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