Pharrell Williams' 'Happy' Nearly Went to Cee Lo Green, Almost Joined 'Idol' (Audio)

"Not everybody's gonna have blonde hair and blue eyes and be waif thin," the "Voice" addition told Howard Stern of disagreeing with the Fox show's philosophy.
Associated Press
Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams is joining The Voice's seventh season -- a TV show post that was a long time coming, as the producer once nearly completed talks to become a judge on American Idol.

"[American Idol] interviewed me, but I think I turned them off pretty quickly," he said on Tuesday's The Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM, of potentially being part of the panel in 2012, alongside Mariah Carey. "Not to sling mud, because Ryan [Seacrest] has been very kind to me, but a lot of the philosophy behind the show, I just didn't get. Because I saw a lot of people not make it on the show, other people that did get on the show get voted off, and it just didn't feel right to me."

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Stern noted that Williams is someone who celebrates the quirkiness of different artists, and that on Idol, "they want everyone to fall into a mold." Williams agreed, saying, "Yeah, not everybody's gonna have blonde hair and blue eyes and be waif thin," citing Adele as an important example. "By the way, yes, she is beautiful, and she turned the world upside down, and that's what I was looking to do."

Of the decision to become a Voice coach, he said, "They interviewed me, and so I took the job because I saw it as a interesting platform … the advice that I could give some of the people on my team, I'm hoping could be useful to other people in TV land who are not necessarily on a television show, or maybe not even doing music. Maybe something that I may say may open the door or give someone else an epiphany to do something far greater than anything I ever could have done."

Another "almost" of his recent ubiquitous success? That "Happy" hit wasn't supposed to be his.

When asked if the producer ever envisioned another singer on the Oscar-nominated track, Williams revealed, "I actually did -- Cee Lo [Green]," the very Voice coach he'll replace this fall. "He did it, he did do it, but the -- how do I say this diplomatically? The powers that be at the time did not see it fit for him, and there was a much bigger agenda for him, he had bigger fish to fry, he had an album to put out … He wanted to do it, but I think some folks on his team just felt that the priority should've been on his album at the time, and so they elected not to do that song and went with another one instead."

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Still, Williams said Green "was one of the most gracious people about it -- when it came out, he congratulated me; when we got nominated, he congratulated me. He's a super standup guy … It's not his fault; he was totally down with it. And he sounded amazing on it. I mean, he burns my version. Totally."

Though the two will not be on a Voice season at the same time, they'll soon be carrying out another Voice tradition -- a collaborative track. "I love working with him -- in fact, we have a song together on his next album. He is a tremendous, tremendous talent."

The upcoming pairing follows "Medicine," Shakira's stab at country alongside Blake Shelton; the Shelton-Christina Aguilera duet "Just a Fool"; Aguilera's "Make the World Move" with Green; and Adam Levine's Maroon 5 track with Aguilera, "Moves Like Jagger." Coincidentally, Williams produced Voice coach Gwen Stefani's hit "Hollaback Girl," released in 2004.

Listen to the interview clips below:

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