Coachella: Pharrell Williams Rules With Hits, the Hat and Huge Guest Stars (Video)
A parade of guests could have outshone the moments when the 41-year-old was manning the stage alone, but the veteran producer handled the spotlight as if he was a well-seasoned solo performer.
Pharrell Williams continued his impossibly long hot streak during his performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, recruiting some of his most famous friends and grabbing his most infamous headwear to help deliver the key collaborations, recent summer smashes and, of course, his reigning Hot 100 chart-topper, "Happy."
In February, Pharrell brought a medley of his biggest hits and a crew of surprise guests to the NBA All-Star Game, where he performed during the player introductions. That performance had Nelly, Diddy, Busta Rhymes and Snoop Dogg, as well as parts of recent hits like Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"… but it only ran for about 15 minutes.
His Coachella performance was the elongation of that star-studded dance party, with the strongest tracks from Pharrell's new solo album, G I R L, thrown in to help round out the brisk hour. Wearing his now-signature Vivienne Westwood hat and a gray hoodie, Pharrell started with Daft Punk's "Lose Yourself To Dance" and his new Miley Cyrus collaboration "Come Get It Bae" before saying "Let's take it back" and quickly diving into his deep discography.
"Frontin'" followed, and before long, Nelly burst onstage to play the Neptunes-produced "Hot In Herre," Busta Rhymes and Puff Daddy combined with Pharrell for "Pass the Courvoisier Part II," and Snoop Dogg strolled into view for the one-two punch of "Drop It Like It's Hot" and "Beautiful." Tyler, The Creator also bounced around the stage at one point, and Pharrell even squeezed in a Diplo drive-by for the Major Lazer track "Aerosol Can." But the biggest shock came when Pharrell teased "some crazy shit" and an appearance from the "incredible, historical, most important … girl in the world," and the beat to "Hollaback Girl" was met with Gwen Stefani arriving and declaring, "Uh huh, this my shit!" Stefani's appearance ended with a huge embrace with Pharrell, who told the crowd, "Look how amazing the queen looks as she is making her arrival back to the music industry."
Pharrell's parade of guests could have outshone the moments when the 41-year-old was manning the stage alone, but the veteran producer handled the spotlight as if he was a well-seasoned solo performer. "Blurred Lines," "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" and "Get Lucky" kept the crowd moving, and G I R L material like "Hunter" and "Marilyn Monroe" featured imaginative stage setups with choreographed dance sequences behind Pharrell onstage. The producer griped about the "stupid f---ing wind" and the dust it was kicking up hindering his silky falsetto, but his complaints came from the understandable desire to ensure perfection for his big Coachella moment.
Although Pharrell could barely warble when his show closed with "Happy," everyone in attendance was able to sing along anyway. It was a performance that felt like a career highlights reel, and another W for a man whose recent history has included a slew of victories.
Pharrell's full Coachella setlist:
'Lose Yourself to Dance'
'Come Get It Bae'
'Hot in Herre' (with Nelly)
'I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)'
'Pass the Courvoisier, Part II' (with Busta Rhymes)
'Lapdance' (with Tyler, the Creator)
'She Wants to Move' (N*E*R*D song)
'Drop It Like It's Hot' (with Snoop Dogg)
'Beautiful' (with Snoop Dogg)
'Aerosol Can' (with Diplo)
'Hollaback Girl' (with Gwen Stefani)
This article first appeared on Billboard.com.
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