On a recent road trip to Atlantic City, my buddy Aaron and I heard the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams four times. We were only in the car for two hours.
It would be hard to argue with anyone who felt the song is overplayed. It was originally featured in a big budget mainstream kids movie (Despicable Me 2) and its popularity has only continued to skyrocket since then.
At the beginning of March, the song reached number one on the Billboard “Hot 100” list. It has remained there ever since. It has also ranked number one in 23 other countries, including New Zealand, Poland, Spain and Germany. It has the longest reign of any song in history on the Dutch Top 40. It has already been featured in an episode of Glee, used in both a Fiat and a Beats commercial and sung by contestants on both The Voice and The X Factor.
You can see soccer moms shaking their hips to it in the grocery store. At this point, it is clearly part of the public consciousness.
It would be so easy then to do the typical jaded blogger thing and attack the song. All I would need is a bit of hyperbole (“I’d rather listen to ‘It’s A Small World’ on an endless loop than hear it again”), a few lame jokes (“More like ‘Crappy,’ am I right, guys?”) and the obligatory wisecrack about Pharrell’s hat (“If his head gets any bigger, that thing won’t fit anymore”) and I could call it a day. But I’m not going to do that.
Why? Because I freakin’ love this song. Not only is it ridiculously catchy, but its so relentlessly pure and upbeat in its message that you would have to be a monster to hate it. This is the song Ebenezer Scrooge listened to on Christmas morning after deciding to change his life. I’m pretty sure it’s on Buddha’s iPod. And if Bruce Wayne ever heard it, I think he would let go of all the pain and anger over his parent’s deaths, quit the whole Batman thing and devote his life to building model trains.
Think that Bruce Wayne joke sounds far-fetched? A study last year conducted by the University of Missouri found that listening to happy music can improve your mood.
The study’s lead author Yuna Ferguson wrote in a press release:
Our work provides support for what many people already do—listen to music to improve their moods. Although pursuing personal happiness may be thought of as a self-centered venture, research suggests that happiness relates to a higher probability of socially beneficial behavior, better physical health, higher income and greater relationship satisfaction.
I’ve been doing my own informal study. I put “Happy” on a playlist on my iPhone and I listen to it two or three times a week. I can’t say that it has made me healthier or richer and I’m still single, but I do find that I’m less cranky overall (and more prone to dance around my house with a goofy smile on my face).
Pharrell was recently a guest on Oprah Prime (which, I was sad to discover, is not a show about an Oprah robot that transforms into a semi-truck, nor is it about an evil version of Oprah from the Earth Prime alternate dimension). During the interview, Oprah showed him a video featuring people across the globe dancing to “Happy.” It brought him to tears. As much as I like to pretend I’m dead inside, I was touched by the video.
So let’s all just enjoy this, okay? I know some part of many of you out there wants to destroy everyone else’s good time. Whenever something penetrates the mainstream to this extent, there is always a backlash. There’s an urge to hate things just because other people like them.
Certainly, I can’t stop you from hating on this song. But, in doing so, you are really missing out. It is so hard to express a moment of pure, unadulterated joy without coming across as cheesy or insincere, but this song does it. It taps into something primal in our brains, the sense of true happiness we felt as children before the jerks of the world made us second guess everything. It’s a gift, one that doesn’t come along that often in this world. So just shut up and enjoy it.
And, most importantly, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.