Following his set earlier this month at the Coachella festival, fans wondered if Pharrell Williams could possibly have any more surprises up his sleeve. After all, his hour on April 12 included sit-ins from Gwen Stefani (“Hollaback Girl”), Nelly (“Hot in Herre”) and Snoop Dogg (“Drop It Like It’s Hot”); others would either have called in all of their favors or have the same celebrities return in the second week.
Not so for Williams: his eminently likable set was propelled by a phalanx of multi-cultural dancers, a spot-on band, Williams’ winning, charming personality and another onslaught of special guests, with only one repeat: Busta Rhymes, who blasted his way once again through “Pass the Courvoisier Pt 2.”
But other than that, it was newness in the guest department. Rapper T.I. appeared first, reprising his role in this summer’s chart-topper, “Blurred Lines.” He was followed by Clipse frontman Pusha T (“Grindin’”), R&B hitman Usher, who sang the Pharrell Williams-written “U Don’t Have to Call,” and main man (and perennial Coachella attendee) Jay Z, who joined Williams for an extended cameo on “Frontin’,” “Excuse Me Miss,” “La La La (Excuse Me Miss Again)” and “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me).”
Though Williams didn’t “take it all the way back” as he promised (that would have meant breaking out the Wreckx-N-Effects classic “Rumpshaker”), the hitmaker parade was just a reminder of the scope of his work. His sets both weekends were packed with huge songs (including his collab with Daft Punk, “Get Lucky,” and his current megasmash, “Happy”), and didn’t even touch all of the corners of his catalog; his work with Justin Timberlake, for instance, went wholly unrecognized, as did his collaborations with Azealia Banks, and even much of his current solo record, “Girl.” It didn’t matter one bit: this was a variety show of the highest degree, with the best emcee the Coachella masses could hope for.
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